Aligning Property Information to Business at the BBC

  • KPI's Support BBC's Transformation to On-Demand Information Model
  • Shift Places Workplace in a Leadership Role
  • Info Platform Informs Senior Management and the Board

By Richard Kadzis*

Alignment is the Holy Grail of corporate real estate (CRE) for what asset manager doesn't aspire to calibrate workplace with the total business plan of the enterprise?

Public sector entities even see things in this manner. Witness the U.S. General Services Adminstration.

The British Broadcast Corporation is also tax-funded, and like the GSA, takes a keen interest in aligning its real estate and workplace operations with senior management's oversight of its extensive operations.

As seen in a growing number of corporations, key performance indicators (KPI's) are forming the heart and soul of the BBC's management of a new business model. The broadcast agency-cum-internet media giant is well into a transformation to being an on-demand provider of news and other content. It's a steep change from its traditional roots of simply providing pre-scheduled live and taped programming reflecting technological and demographics shifts linking to the iPod generation.

Tracking the progress of that transformation is central to the success of the new BBC model, almost as much as property is integral to its execution.

"Metrics that matter," is how program moderator Roy Cloudsdale termed the focus undertaken by BBC's property team. The methodology of those metrics was the central focus of the CoreNet Global European Summit panel on "Aligning Real Estate Information to Business at the BBC," and KPI's took center stage.
"The BBC has reinvented its business over the last five years,"
explained Cloudsdale, VP of Corporate Clients at Johnson Controls Inc.
"Innovation supports the business."

The innovation comes largely in the form of superb data management and its application to the business plan, resulting in decreases in cycle time, enhanced real estate portfolio decision making, streamlining and improved analysis, according to Cloudsdale.

Andy Thornton, Head of Portfolio Direction for BBC Workplace (the real estate and property arm of the agency) said that the $8.5-billion organization is run a lot like a corporate enterprise, starting with the breadth of 60-million viewers and listeners in the U.K. and extending to the enormity of a global audience totaling 250-million.

"Creative, digital, simple and open" are the characteristics that the BBC is remodeling by, Thornton offered. Within that mix, "property is an enabler of change."

Creating new ways of working are central to the shift, he added. For example, the BBC is beginning to tear down traditionally closed and assigned office space in favor open team space environments and flexible work environments. At the same time, it's downsizing its studios and editing suites largely in response to digital technology replacing former broadcast formats like tape.

"It's more than property," Thornton emphasized, citing the change of the real estate department's name from BBC Property to BBC Workplace. "It's people and place." As a result, change management is also part of the mix in what Thornton called "change reassurance" in the form of proactive communication and involvement by BBC staff in the new business and work models before they are actually implemented.

Working under the head of Workplace, Chris Kane, Thornton has helped oversee the addition of more than 20 new properties since 2004, along with the redesign or disposition of many more. For example, several new studios have opened in former warehouses in Wales. He describes the transition as an "internal culture change with outward physical changes."

One of BBC's alliance partners is Remit Consulting. The firm has guided the development of what amounts to a mutli-layered metrics-based knowledge-sharing platform. It serves as the key tool for senior management to communicate performance metrics to the BBC board, and for both leadership teams to either stay the course or adjust plan acc

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