Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

42 EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW Media’s massive opportunity Microsoft can help media and communications businesses improve their digital capabilities and better engage with audiences. We spoke with its corporate vice president for the industry, Francesco Venturini, to find out more BY ANDY CLAYTON-SMITH According to market research firm eMarketer, US consumers will spend over 500 minutes a day consuming digital media in 2023 That’s over eight hours, and increasing. This extraordinary level of engagement is clearly a massive opportunity, and challenge, for media and communications firms. We talk with Francesco Venturini about his role as corporate vice president of communications and media at Microsoft, the changes in the industry and what the future holds. Tell us about your professional background and why you chose to join Microsoft. I began my career in the automotive industry and private equity before discovering my passion for media at Accenture, where I gained 20 years of media and communications strategy consulting experience. Spearheading and scaling innovation has always been a key focus of my career. I built a TV station in Kuwait in the early 2000s, launched one of the first over-the-top platforms in the early 2010s, and consider myself lucky to have been involved in some of the most disruptive and transformative programs across the world. To practice what I preach, I embraced change and looked for a new chapter in my professional life. I was captivated by the amazing power, trust and equity that the Microsoft brand carries, in addition to the culture Satya Nadella has built, emphasising “learn it all" over “know it all.” I am inspired by Microsoft’s mission “to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more” as well as the immense engineering and research and development talent that leads the whole industry and continues to push boundaries. Consider for a moment the amazing things we are doing with OpenAI. I am curious and have a true passion for constructively challenging the status quo to position for long-term sustainability and success. My approach to business is to build an environment where people feel empowered to experiment and innovate, where learning is encouraged, failures are respected, and successes celebrated, and there is a sense that one-man shows are always suboptimal to effective team playing. The future is bright for media companies and Microsoft has a fantastic opportunity to help them as we support their ability to leverage the new technologies, operating models, and ecosystems essential to serving demanding customers in an all-digital sector, converging telecoms, media and entertainment. You took up the role at a pivotal time, when the industry has been particularly dynamic. What are the most significant changes and how is Microsoft positioned to deal with them? There have been several factors that have impacted the media industry in recent years, including the rise of digital platforms, changes in consumer behaviour, and the Covid19 pandemic. These have created both challenges and opportunities for the industry. The rise of digital platforms, such as social media and streaming services, has disrupted traditional media outlets such as newspapers and TV networks. Consumers are increasingly turning to these platforms for news, entertainment and other forms of content. This shift has forced traditional media companies to adapt by developing their own digital strategies or partnering with existing digital platforms. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital platforms as people spent more time at home and relied on the internet for work, school and entertainment. This has led to a surge in demand for digital content and further highlighted the importance of digital platforms for the media industry. The economic impact has changed mindsets across the industry from