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June 15, 2020

BBC Reveals Plans for £12 Million Digital Overhaul, Spanning DBs, Websites, Data Science

BBC seeking new databases, improved personalisation, more user data and an overhaul of its websites...

By CBR Staff Writer

The BBC has launched a £12 million hunt for partners to support it with a major digital overhaul: spanning database upgrades, website design, data science, UX improvements, hardware integration and more.

The move, announced in a new framework agreement, comes as the public service broadcaster plans a major push towards more personalised online services under its 2020-2021 annual plan, released this May.

The investment is being made as the corporation facing major financial challenges: it admitted in its annual plan that it has lost £125 million in income due to the coronavirus outbreak. Those losses come at a painful time: the BBC is already committed to making £800 million in “efficiency” savings in the first five years of a charter that was renewed in 2016.

BBC Technology Investment: What’s Needed?

The BBC requires a framework of suppliers to provide bespoke digital services and solutions for eight digital services categories.

These are “web development, mobile app development, back-end development, third party maintenance, emerging technologies, data science and machine learning, design and UX and host and operate.”

Realistically, the broadcaster expects to spend between £500,000 and £3 million yearly under the two-year framework, but it stretches to £12 million; factoring in the possibility of a two-year extension.

The framework notice reveals a need for services under 28 procurement categories, including database and operating software development services, website design services, system QA assessment and review, and more. 

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What’s the Plan?

The annual report hints at some of the transformation needed, and which this BBC technology investment will likely support.

Among its priorities: getting more users of BBC Online to sign-in, and tracking data across multiple platforms and applications, as the broadcaster aims to secure “the data we need to make our online products feel like they are part of a single, consistent and personalised whole.”

Its second strategic priority over the next 11 months is to take “a big step forward on making the BBC more personal and more engaging. This means improved recommendations across our online products that surface new programmes and stories, based not just on activity on one app…”

“Third”, the annual report adds, “we will make all our websites feel more uniform in style and format and automatically bring together all the BBC’s output on a given topic in one place.”

Across the back-end it also wants to make linear and on-demand products work together better. As the BBC noted in May: “The longer-term trends of global and technology-led disruption have not let up.

“If anything, this crisis is set to accelerate those trends. So the BBC’s strategy to respond to them must accelerate as well.”

Suppliers will need to be successfully awarded a minimum of three of these digital services categories in order to secure a place on the framework. Applications need to be in by July 16. Successful companies can expect to work closely with the BBC’s technology partner, Atos. 

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