ESPN is on a digital transformation journey, according to Wanda Young, the company's SVP of marketing and consumer engagement, who took the stage Monday at the Adobe Summit Partner Day event in Las Vegas. She was interviewed by Ann Lewnes, Adobe's CMO.
"ESPN's strategy is simple," Young told attendees. "We are going to follow the fans. ... People want to consume content on their own terms, and we are going to be as flexible and creative as possible."
The sports media giant’s mission is to respond quickly and creatively in a climate in which people are consuming content where and when they want to. This is one of the main reasons ESPN "leaned into mobile early," said Young, and is focusing its efforts on personalizing the customer experience.
Personalization is a priority for ESPN because, quite simply, consumers expect it, she added. Currently, most companies allow app users and site visitors to set preferences for more personalized experiences. But, Young said, that's going away.
"We need to implicitly understand what people want and serve that to them," Young said.
Young and Lewnes agreed that every organization needs to be very focused on experience and becoming an "experience business." Young observed there is a lot of talk about data and analytics these days, and, while important, companies need to think about "making experiences human and compelling."
A big part of digital transformation, she explained, involves changing the culture within an organization. Tech comes first, then culture. "Talent," Young said, "is key."
"I think a lot of marketers are looking for people who look like them," she added. "But you need something different. You need people with different skill sets ... and companies need to think about retaining employees as their business problem."
According to Young, a lot is changing these days, and there are better tools to handle it all on the landscape. The next evolution, she believes, is automation.
"There's a lot of experimentation happening [at ESPN], and, hopefully, that will make our experiences better," she said.
Lewnes and Young ended the chat with some banter about the NCAA Men’s Basketball tourney taking place. Young picked the Kansas Jayhawks as champions, while Lewnes said she is backing Arizona.