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DMG Media CIO Steve Homan interview - Building a modern media IT team

Mark Chillingworth | June 23, 2016
Media giants DMG Media and its CIO Steve Homan have focused on developing a skilled workforce to meet omnichannel demands

DMG Media is better known for its brands than the holding company, and these don't get much bigger than those under CIO Steve Homan's business technology leadership watch. It publishes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers, as well as its increasingly successful online brands.

We meet at the imposing DMG headquarters on Kensington High Stree. The 1930s Art Deco building is a testament to the wealth and power the media industry formerly possessed. Once through security, you rise to the media pantheon on an escalator to a blend of 1930s grace and a 21st century collaborative working environment, with coffee shops and lounges. To your right a classical architectural portico takes you through to the Editors Hallway where black and white portraits of every editor of the DMG newspapers grace the walls.

Homan's office is neither Art Deco or classical; it is surrounded by huge whiteboard walls where the CIO and his team have been bashing out ideas moments before we meet. He talks about his team, recruitment and training a great deal, and it develops into one of the major themes of our discussion. Two-and-a-half years in the media has enthused the CIO about the challenges of omnichannel publishing.

Global reach

"Newspapers are our UK product, while online is a global product, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney and here. We also manage the technology estate for the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers," Homan says of the quality publication and free London titles that sublet office space and services from DMG in Kensington.

 The arrangement stems from Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev's purchase of 75.1% of the Evening Standard from DMGT for £1 in 2009, buying the Independent titles for the same price the following year and basing his newspapers out of the same west London building.

"A lot of what I do here is getting the talent and people right," Homan explains of the role of a CIO in an international media business.

"We have business analysts that do the scrum meetings, as well as traditional requirements gathering, and they can also provide support for most of our products. We have poly-skilled people, who can do a multiple set of roles," he reveals of how he has trained and engendered skills diversity across his team.

"IT is a meritocracy and people are performance based in their assessment. What that has meant is that there is not a legacy team here. The guys running our legacy systems are also supporting the latest customer technology," Homan says of how he is challenging the Bimodal IT model sold by some vendors and analyst houses.

Support operations

"My first 12 months was about maximising our support operations," the CIO says, which then allowed him to focus on skills to ensure IT and the organisation moved forwards. "We've worked with our HR team and they are really good at getting the story of what we are doing out there into the market," he says, bucking a challenge many CIOs have reported to me of challenges of working with HR.

 

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