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How Time Inc. innovates with tech to ignite current and new business

In 2014, Colin Bodell joined Time Inc. as CTO. After eight years at Amazon, Bodell set out to shape the legacy publisher’s overall strategic technology direction.

Bodell told attendees at yesterday's Digital Innovators' Summit that he saw a huge opportunity to enlarge the company's digital footprint and extend the reach of its high-quality content. “I jumped at the opportunity to play a role in the transformation of this iconic company. I love and respect the brands and journalistic excellence they represent," Bodell said.

Colin Bodell DIS 2016 ()

Capturing readers where they feel most comfortable

Since joining Time Inc., Bodell has worked hard to prove that media and technology are “two sides of the same coin”. He explained leveraging Time Inc.’s storytelling prowess and a new technology infrastructure and tools to deliver content to their consumers “when they want it and in the format that they most deeply enjoy and appreciate,” allowed them to reach new heights. It is at this precise point where the “cultural change happens and media companies start to reflect the speed and cadence of a technology giant,” explained Bodell.

The big tech itch

Bodell’s first priority was to change their data centre strategy and adopting the Amazon Web Services Cloud. Moving to the AWS Cloud supported them to gain new levels of performance and scalability to handle traffic spikes. As a result, their hosting costs dropped by 53 per cent, they saved over US$5m and reduced time-to-traffic to 15 minutes. It provided the editorial team with improved ways to tell stories. That’s where our business starts and ends each day," said Bodell. They have now moved all web, mobile, and corporate apps to the cloud bringing 100 per cent of UK brands, 76 per cent of US brands on AWS, and the virtual enterprise data centre on AWS.

The mobile itch

With their data centre strategy in place, Bodell sought to tackle their next challenge: significantly drive down the cost of native mobile app development. Bodell recounts difficulty finding an off-the-shelf solution that could meet the needs of the media industry. This paved the way for Time Inc.’s Toro, a content-feed-based reading app for iOS and Android. With Toro, editorial teams are able to aggregate the content they create and deliver it to a native mobile app. “Today, it takes just one week—sometimes even less time—to put together a mobile site," said Bodell. 

Igniting new business - TORO

Toro isn’t proprietary to Time Inc. and has allowed them to ignite their current and new business.

Earlier this year, Time Inc., and ASN. announced a wide-ranging partnership to develop a Sports Illustrated sports broadcasting and digital network across Asia. Time Inc. Under the deal, Time Inc. will provide the infrastructure technology for the SI networks websites and mobile apps expansion initiatives with ASN’s well-established presence and growing popularity in the region.

Paving the way - media and technology

Bodell concluded that large media companies have an obligation and responsibility towards small and medium sized business to invest in technology advancements to drive down the associated costs and complexity for the rest of the industry. “By extending this technology to other content creators, we help overcome a challenge we once shared," he said.

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