Cyrus Saihan heads up the digital partnerships team at the BBC. Cyrus is responsible for developing and managing the BBC’s relationships with digital partners, ranging from global technology companies, to new start-ups, digital production companies, and digital agencies. By collaborating with the industry the BBC is able to create and distribute new digital content, products, and services and bring third party innovation into this global media organisation.
Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this April 27-28 in London, we sat down with Cyrus to discuss digital development at one of the UK's proudest publishers.
How did you get started in your career?
After qualifying as a lawyer in the City, I worked at the international record label Ministry of Sound, negotiating content licensing and digital distribution deals to capitalise on the explosion of mobile ringtones and digital downloads at a time when services such as iTunes were launching.
What, in your view, are the key digital trends to look out for in 2017?
Artificial intelligence and voice interfaces have the potential to change the way that audiences interact with media and it is an area that I’ll be keeping a close eye on this year.
Are you personalising your customer engagement? If so how? If not, why not?
Personalisation is a major priority for the BBC. By finding out more about our audiences and what they like, we can make better, more relevant content and bring it to them in the most effective way.
How do you maintain brand loyalty and meaningful engagement in the over-crowded digital space?
The BBC is a strong global brand and BBC iPlayer is consistently ranked in the top 5 brands in the UK. In the digital space, we are always looking to constantly innovate and bring new products and experiences to our audiences. Over the next few years we have an ambition to reinvent public service broadcasting for a new generation which should help position us well in the digital space.
Would you say that all new business ventures should be digital-first or even digital-only?
At the BBC, we are very much riding two horses: delivering outstanding content and experiences on our existing services, but also innovating in the digital space. In some areas this means moving to digital-first / digital-only, for example, it has now been just over a year that we moved our BBC Three service to be digital-only, becoming the first television channel in the world to make the switch from linear broadcast to online-only.
What can the audience expect from your session at the Chief Digital Officer Forum?
We are going to be looking at how digital innovation might change the world around us in the next 5 to 10 years, looking across a variety of industries to see what key digital trends are likely to influence different sectors in the coming years and to see if we can identify some common themes.
You can hear more Cyrus, along with other industry-leading digital executives, at the Chief Digital Officer Forum in London this April 27-28. To see the full schedule, click here.