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Sky’s Head of Technology Simon Greening on the journey from PDF spreadsheets to one system for all things brand and resource management

Simon Greening, former Head of Technology at Sky Creative – the largest European in-house agency for the iconic UK television broadcaster – has worked through many evolutions in their creative production approach over the last eight years. In his most recent role as Head of Technology, before his May 2023 departure, he has consolidated Sky Creative's numerous tech platforms into one system with Storyteq (formerly CanopyCloud of ITG). What did that journey look like for Sky Creative?

With 600+ employees, Sky Creative is one of the biggest in-house creative agencies in Europe. Changes to their technology mix were necessary when a lack of clarity and visibility emerged from the variety of communication channels, isolated departments working independently of each other and several possible destinations for grabbing content, assets and guidelines.

You’ve been working on Storyteq’s platform for two years – how many people are using it?

Every one of our creative staff uses the platform to record their time through the Resource part the Storyteq Creative Marketing Operations platform. But the ambition is for Storyteq to be the one source of truth to manage resources and projects in Sky Creative.
 
At Sky Creative before, departments often worked quite independently of one another. And what we needed to do was collate their assets in one place and standardise these workflows wherever possible so we could report properly as a business – in terms of resource management, content reporting, time recording and such.  
 
Sky Creative creates a vast amount of valuable assets that in the past have not be freely available to the business to access and use. Storyteq will provide a platform to manage and present the content produced without burdening creative teams with extra work.

What challenges were you facing that prompted you to make a change?

The challenge that we have in Sky Creative is that we work across three mediums – agency, creative studio and a traditional creative services department, which services our broadcast channels. We previously had various DAM solutions that were poorly maintained. These did not serve the latest assets produced from brands, those which are continually evolving. 

So Brand Portals were the first major component we went live with, in order to get our guidelines, assets etc in place to present to the rest of the business and our external partners.  
 
But it went beyond that with Brand Portals, becoming our brand site. Combined with the DAM, it has glued together those three mediums I mentioned (agency, creative studio and creative services), and their functions. That was the initial big attraction: one system. Also, Storyteq understood an agency brand as well as your traditional asset management system.

What were the first benefits you noticed in terms of the day to day for the creative and marketing teams at Sky Creative?

Our initial approach was to look for a DAM and a rich, very presentable brand site solution – which is exactly what the Brand Portals offered. And then at the same time, there were significant changes happening within the business. There was a requirement to replace the existing two platforms we had previously because there was quite a lot of manual spreadsheet processes when managing teams and projects at the time.  
 
The idea was to have one platform that rules them all. When we implemented the time-recording functionality, it really got people engaged with using the system. From that point onwards we built out the workflows and the other components to the system, and we now have a much richer set of data. 

What has been the real gamechanger so far?

We’re still in the earlier stages of implementing some of the modules across all of Sky Creative, but what really surprised me just last week was the sheer number of assets being downloaded from the Brand Portal and DAM. We’re talking tens of thousands. I think we have over 4,000 users and that’s growing at a rapid pace, so you can see that it’s becoming a critical platform for Sky as a business.

In relation to Brand Portals, how would’ve you dealt with, for example, brand guidelines before?

They were PDFs sent around to partners. But the brand team within Sky Creative have translated those PDFs onto the Storyteq platform. Which is much better than a flat document because you can access the assets and view, download and share them. There’s been a lot of excitement from other departments who are keen to adopt it into their workflows. But I expect once people truly understand the capabilities of the platform, which is happening more and more each day, there will be even greater potential for what we can do with Brand Portals.

Like hosting dynamic templates which can be customised right there in the Brand Portal! Were there any learning curves to using particular aspects of the platform?

Before when we had similar but separate systems, we found we were using about 20% of their capabilities. Whereas that percentage is far higher now with Storyteq, with a real ambition to do a lot more – especially seeing as we can tailor it so flexibly to our specific requirements. I thought we would have to conform a lot more than we have done. But Storyteq and ITG take on board what you need in the platform and they create it with you, so it really does feel like it’s ours, rather than a third-party piece of tech.

Can you tell me a bit more about the Resource aspect of the platform?  

Well, we never had that 100% user adoption for platforms before, where all the data was in one place and where the system wasn’t supplemented by spreadsheets. Meaning the reporting before was, in truth, never particularly accurate. Now though, we have an up-to-date current view of the state of the business.   

Does that help you make more informed decisions on Resource?

One example is our design team, which is 70+ people who have a variety of skills across motion, stills and graphics that can work on broadcast or marketing projects. Storyteq will help reduce silos and allow Sky Creative to access the best talent available. So, for instance, you may have a motion graphics designer who works in Sky Sports News who actually has a skillset that could be used on a project in brand. But a resource manager who works in brand may previously not have been aware of that availability or skillset from the Sports News side.  
 
Another way we’re streamlining processes using the platform is through approvals. A significant part of our business is the promo production teams. We produce a significant amount of promos across Sicily, Germany and the UK. These teams have about 200 people and the Storyteq platform is going to help their turnaround time significantly, by making creative reviews as quick and easy as possible. Whether it’s a very complex promo project that’s part of a tier-one campaign or whether it’s a standard promo that they show advertising the sports fixture at the weekend – they’ll find that with robust internal processes, they share the same stages. We can reflect that in the platform. 

So, what’s next in Sky’s journey with  Storyteq?

We want to start looking at the very cool stuff, like how we can be more efficient in our content creation. We are starting to see the data back on how our assets are being used and how they’re being produced. And having that one place to view your resource from, that’s also a great start. But there certainly is an ambition to push this more into the world of automation, where we can version and deliver our assets in a way that removes the repetitive, mundane tasks for our creative team – saving us time and money in the long run. Watch this space!

Thank you to Simon Greening for taking the time to chat to us. If you’re interested in using both our Creative Automation and Creative Marketing Operations platforms to deliver creative production efficiencies across your business (saving you time and money), get in touch. 

May 19, 2023

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