No BYOD for BBC as it shies away from 'the bleeding edge’ of technology

By Peter Gothard
22 Nov 2012 View Comments
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"Generally, [at Shell], when you've put a business case together, the first question is ‘What revenue can we get out of that?' The first question at the BBC is ‘what cost can we save out of it?'.

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"So that actually makes investment more difficult, because in a commercial organisation people are normally far happier if you're increasing revenue than if you're shortcutting costs. [At the BBC] you always know that, even if you're going to save 20 per cent, you're still going to fall short, because it's difficult to cut costs," said Griffiths. 

"So at the BBC, the drive and the justification is different, and also the BBC doesn't see systems and finance as their key product – because it's programmes." 

With BYOD specifically, Griffiths' other reservations concern endpoint security; a mobile device management solution that he feels still eludes the industry as a whole. 

"[It's] a puzzle, and no one's cracked the business case yet," said Griffiths. "You need another layer of technology, whatever that means. The BBC is very protective of its environment because of what it is." 

As a result, admitted Griffiths, the BBC is consciously slow to react to changes in technology, preferring to hang back and let progress establish itself before taking any risks. 

"The BBC does not like to be at the bleeding edge of things," summarised Griffiths. But this leads to a degree of difficulty in managing projects. 

"From a technologist's point of view, sometimes it's frustrating," said Griffiths. "Because you want to be out there using SAP Hana or whatever, but the BBC doesn't make decisions that quickly. But it's right to be cautious; it doesn't want to cause upsets." 

Especially now, with the BBC still grappling with the fallout from its recent troubles involving serious allegations against former members of staff, as well as questions over its journalistic integrity. So how has this unrest affected Griffiths' world, already under fire from cost-cutting measures and slow-to-react step-change culture?

"99 per cent of the people don't get touched by that sort of thing anyway," said Griffiths.

"It's like any big corporation – there's things that happen in it that become high profile, but most people don't touch anything to do with it, and just want to get on and do their job. That's the way people are approaching it – we've still got programmes to produce."

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