Bloomberg Media’s M. Scott Havens on digital transformation

M. Scott Havens is Global Head of Digital at Bloomberg Media, and oversees the company’s global consumer digital initiatives. 

He’ll be speaking about digital transformation and disruption at ClickZ New York in April, but we caught up with him to get a taste of the event in advance.

Tell us a little bit about your role at Bloomberg Media and some of the priorities in your role.

As the Head of Global Digital for Bloomberg Media, my key mandate is to define and execute a cross-functional international digital strategy that grows our influence around the world, drives our media business, and supports our core terminal business.

Some of our key priorities include:

  • Helping navigate the increasingly “distributed Web”
  • Implementing solutions to the issues and changes we face in digital advertising
  • Repackaging traditional media – print, TV, radio – into engaging and monetizable digital assets
  • Supporting multiple global sites and platforms
  • Thinking through areas of digital growth that also support our core terminal business

What makes this job interesting every day is the speed at which the digital landscape is shifting. With everything constantly changing, we have no choice but to adapt quickly — and as a result, there is no down time, lulls, or quiet weeks.

My team is always moving forward: we try new ways of doing things, host conversations about how to thrive on new platforms, and partner with new innovative companies.

For me, the global nature of Bloomberg and my daily collaboration with our international teams make this role much different than anything I’ve done in the past.

In your opinion, what are the characteristics of digital agility?

They key ones that come to mind are having native domain (digital) expertise in house and truly embracing a digital (and mobile) first mindset.

Talent is at the center of all successful companies, and having truly “native” digital members on the team allows us to move forward more swiftly with confidence, and ultimately, to be more successful.

It is also important to establish a flat, non-hierarchal, lean team and to develop and follow “agile” processes – certainly in product development, but across all lines of decision making.

Finally, I would say embracing risk and accepting failure is critical. Regularly testing and trying new products, features and platforms will create a culture of innovation and ultimately should lead to more successful products, audience scale, and revenue growth.

Smaller brands tend to be more agile and responsive; what characteristics do bigger brands need to stay on top of digital transformation?

The traits that I outlined in question #2 apply here, but I’d also submit that heritage brands must develop an organization, with appropriate funding and freedom, that can both “explore” and “execute” – because you cannot be successful doing both with the same team.

In my view, this is one of the biggest hurdles stifling innovation within legacy companies.

For example, at Bloomberg, our digital team holds “hack days” each month during which our product and engineering teams go off script and experiment with ideas that are not yet green-lit, but may help us achieve our digital goals.

Recent “hack days” have led to the development of a truly unique editorial CMS dashboard and the current testing of a slick new video experience.

Your session at ClickZ Live New York is titled “To Disrupt or to be Disrupted” – can you give any examples of brands that in your opinion are great innovators/’disruptors’?

In my mind, the greatest innovators and disruptors are the companies that are fundamentally altering how we work and live, but also have created a scalable business model.

While there are plenty of companies that may fit that bill, here are my favorite 10 old and new companies:

  1. Amazon
  2. AirBNB
  3. Ebay
  4. Uber
  5. Dropbox
  6. Facebook
  7. Google
  8. Netflix
  9. Tesla
  10. And, of course, Bloomberg

As a sneak-peek to your session, tell us about one of the main takeaways you will be discussing.

That talent and organization matter more than leaders think.

It’s been three months since you joined Bloomberg. What has surprised you the most

Definitely the culture. You never know what to expect when you are new to an organization and Bloomberg has exceeded my expectations across the board.

Since joining, I’ve found the company to be a high-energy, talented, collaborative, risk-taking, progressive, hard-working, globalized, and youthful organization.

This culture, paired with the assets and resources of the organization, create an ideal environment to build and launch amazing products and businesses.

Are you looking to build your team? What are you looking for?

We are always looking for smart talent. I’m consistently meeting with “digital rockstars” across all functions and levels, and whether or not we have an opening, we are always looking to recruit the best people for our team.

Scott, anything else you’d like to answer?

Not now, I’m saving the rest for the ClickZ conference!

You can see Scott at ClickZ Live New York on April 13. 

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