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How product works at Orange Digital

Daniel James
Orange Digital Head of Product and Innovation Daniel James explains developing your offering in line with what users want, agile vs. waterfall approaches and how his unit ensures rapid launches and product development.

Daniel is one of the speakers at ‘Introducing a Product Culture’, on Wednesday 6 July at the Blue Fin. Also appearing: speakers from Guardian, BBC and BraveNewTalent.

Free places available for publisher members - book yourself a place.

Can you tell us a little bit about Orange Digital and the products you manage?

Orange Digital runs the Orange UK web and mobile sites and associated suite of digital products. The product team runs a range of products including content, social media and personalisation.

The website has 9m users per month, while the mobile site has 3.7m unique users per month which, according to Comscore’s GSMA data, ranks it as the fourth most-used mobile site in the UK and the largest of the UK mobile operators.

Where does the product management role sit at Orange Digital, and how do you define it?

We operate in a cross-functional, collaborative way, across content, product, commercial, design and development teams. We define content as a vertical channel, like news or sport, while products tend to span multiple services and screens.

What methods do you use to ensure that Orange develops its consumer offering in line with what users want?

In addition to the usual research and testing, we develop using the agile methodology with beta launches to enable qualitative and quantitative customer feedback and associated iterative development based on the insight gathered.

We are also working to develop long-term customer engagement and involvement in the ideation process beyond the normal project activity.

It’s been argued that agile is the way forward for publishers – what are the major issues for media owners adopting this approach, and do you think we will start to see more large organisations (media or otherwise) adopting these over more traditional (eg waterfall) methods?

We agree, which is why we use this approach across the whole business. The benefits from faster, better project delivery far outweigh the risks of changing a familiar process.

One recommendation I’d make, whatever project development method you use, is to ensure you empower not just product managers, but also other stakeholders, including middle management, with devolved authority to make decisions when you need them.

It’s been said, at one of our previous events, that rapid product development is “not something we’ve been traditionally good at” in media – do you have any tips in this area, or learnings from your previous experience of working in publishing?

That’s tended to be my experience in the past, and it’s the reason Orange Digital was set up, giving us an empowered, entrepreneurial self-contained unit with end-to-end development and management skills so we could focus on rapid development, delivery and in-life management.

Daniel is speaking at ‘Introducing a Product Culture’ on 6 July - book your place now
- free places available for publisher members.