ABC calls in L.E.K. Consulting to support overhaul of TV division

17 May 2016

ABC recently announced a big overhaul of its TV division, following the rapid changes to demand as new technologies and tastes begin to transform the television space. To support the restructure the company has called in L.E.K. Consulting to advise on strategic options, for a fee of $750,000.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia’s state-owned and funded national public broadcaster. Formed in 1929, ABC has in the intervening years played a key role in the development of Australia’s media landscape.

Similar to other TV and media production firms globally, ABC is facing changing environment. One of the major trends the media house is facing is a change in demand, in particular among the so-called millennial generation. According to a recent report from L.E.K. Consulting, the millennial generation is shifting its interest away from the TV and is in turn much more likely to consume video based content through digital subscription or free online through services such as google – the result is that the market share of TV within the wider media mix has dropped dramatically. 

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) too recently studied the changing landscape for the traditional television market, finding that new TV subscriptions are trending downwards as new streaming subscription-based video on demand services, such as Netflix, are set to take off among consumers. The consultancy firm also found that the kinds of content in demand are also being transformed by changing consumer behaviours. Exclusive and top-rated programming is becoming much more valuable in terms of viewer numbers, while mid-range filler content is losing out as people balance wider entertainment agendas against other quality propositions. Cult and other nice markets are expected to see a boom from the new behaviour as the related programmes become more widely available. 

ABC calls in LEK Consulting

According to Crikey, an Australian website, the management of ABC has brought in L.E.K. Consulting to support the company with drafting a strategy and restructuring plan, aimed at navigating the company through the changing landscape. The consultants came, according to insiders close to the matter, with a hefty price tag: $750,000. L.E.K. was selected mainly for its expertise in the field – the international consulting firm has a strong track record in the media industry, the consultancy is in addition a regular advisor at ABC — the consultants have, in recent years, among others, looked at a possible merger of ABC and SBS and drafted plans for ABC to boost viewing levels by 10%.

The plan includes an overhaul of the organisational structure of ABC, reshuffling several management positions, which is being rolled out to prepare the organisation for changes to demographics as well as technological developments. The plan further details the aim to focus on high quality, original content production and ensure a “platform-agnostic approach to reaching audiences”.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.