Reimagining Audacy's Digital Future in the Age of Streaming
In this case study
As consumers shift from brand loyalty to experience loyalty, compelling digital experiences that work across devices, platforms and physical engagements are becoming crucial to success.
Audacy is a leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company with one of the world's biggest collections of local music, news and sports brands. As a premium podcast creator, major event producer and digital innovator, Audacy had to evolve as the music industry shifted from linear to digital delivery, consumer and music habits changed drastically, rendering its legacy streaming platform outdated.
Classically a radio company that had dabbled in digital, Audacy wanted to transform itself into a digital leader in the media industry by delivering the premium audio content its listeners love and trust with unprecedented personalization, control and flexibility.
"We needed to have a partner that could think outside of the box on how we could have audio listening be ubiquitous and seamless," said Sarah Foss, Audacy's chief technology officer. "All of that requires cloud based solutions, personalization and AI, frictionless data, massive security and incredible metadata management in a way that also is not heavy. So it is fast, high quality, and frankly something that every time you sign in, it feels like you're going back to a place just made for you."
The ambitious project would require Audacy to think differently across its entire operation, from business model and revenue strategies to how their teams engage with technology and interact with consumers and partners.
In the end, WWT and Audacy worked collaboratively to build a robust, data-centric technology platform capable of enabling IT and business leaders to drive deeper connections with listeners while unlocking a new business model to monetize content across consumption channels.
When we first started working with Audacy, they were at a crossroads. Audacy was a media company — masters at developing great content — with little experience navigating the complex journey required to design and build such a sophisticated platform.
"We had top-tier marketing and consulting firms telling us what listeners wanted," Foss said. "What we didn't have is a technology roadmap of how we were going to do it, and we knew we had to do it fast, super-fast."
Audacy turned to WWT for a practical, actionable way forward. As experts at bridging business and technology objectives to drive real digital transformation, we brought outside expertise in developing and deploying large scale applications that helped Audacy's teams think differently about how technology could shape their business.
As we began to work backwards from the desired outcomes — to drive loyalty with a game-changing experience across all channels — a clearer view of what would be needed from a technology perspective began to unfold.
Audacy needed to scale quickly and meet aggressive timelines. We stood up an initial team of over 100 specialists across nearly a dozen teams in a matter of weeks to start developing their next-generation digital platform.
Recognizing experiences are only as good as the systems and technologies that power them, we developed a flexible platform from the ground up that could serve as the engine behind the scenes — a centralized hub to operate the dozens of third-party tools and point offerings that needed to work together to enable a cutting-edge streaming service.
We helped Audacy's development team map personas to best understand what listeners wanted to see in an app or how they wanted to be presented content. We helped assess and make sense of a crowded vendor marketplace and how those vendors could integrate into the platform we were building. We provided DevOps expertise to incorporate best practices in terms of automation and optimization.
We created a flexible architecture that allowed Audacy to deploy small sets of code quickly, which allows them to upgrade particular services to either increase a capability or add a new feature or set of data. And we developed sophisticated APIs and SDKs to make sure all groups — from Audacy's digital and development teams to its business and strategy leaders — had easy access to the right tools, resources and features needed to optimize productivity.
"The platform is enabling us to do things that we weren't able to do with our previous solution," said Diana Cano, Audacy's senior vice president of technology PMO and DevOps. "The work that WWT helped us really execute on is being able to create this platform upon which we can build new features, where new technologies around AI and ML will help us personalize and experience for our end users. Really looking at how the content not only is stored, but accessed and understood to help us really create a really rich experience for our listeners."
Continuous modernization and ultimate agility: Audacy can now seamlessly upgrade its new platform without disrupting the end-user experience as new, more capable tools enter the market. With an easy path to modernization, Audacy can update or introduce new features while avoiding future technical debt and remaining adaptive to the needs of the business.
Unparalleled data insights: For the first time ever, Audacy has a complete profile of its listeners — down to the individual — across channels, allowing for personalized content and advertisements. Audacy's new platform also allows them to deliver a more delightful experience via next-best action recommendations or intelligent push notifications.
Increased loyalty and happy partners: Great experiences increase loyalty, which in turn can spur growth and enable continued investment in technology that unlocks new experiences or allows for refocused attention to other strategic areas of the business.
New, sustainable revenue models: With the ability to tailor content based on individual rather than group profiles, Audacy can now develop and offer subscription-based services to listeners that represent new revenue streams for the business.
- Sarah Foss, Audacy CTO
Transformation isn't limited to technology. Such undertakings demand the right mix of expertise across people, processes and various integrated technology environments. To illustrate the breadth of expertise needed to develop this type of next-generation platform, the following list includes the some of the disparate teams and work that went into delivering this solution:
- Business and digital consulting
- Data analytics and data maturity
- Big data consulting
- Application development and services
- Persona mapping
- API and SDK design and development
- Back-end integration
- Cloud strategy
- Cloud deployment
- Cloud optimization
- Strategic resourcing
- UX design
With more than 30 years of experience helping the world's largest companies and government entities, we've learned digital transformation and IT modernization thrive in the space between:
Our deep domain expertise cuts across business and technology. Our ability to extensively test solutions and deploy them at scale allows us to both advise and execute to create new realities for our customers.
Like any good radio lover, we listened. Having worked with one of the world's leading consulting agencies to establish an end-state vision — a platform to enable all of its distribution platforms including web, desktop, smart speakers, connected TVs, etc. But Audacy was stuck on where and how to start. We listened to key stakeholders about the challenges they were experiencing and used those insights to inform our strategy, and work backwards from desired outcomes into technology solutions that made sense.
We turned up the volume. Communication is key in any large-scale transformation program. We hosted town halls and sent regular newsletters to keep information flowing to both business and technology stakeholders. The tight-knit alignment led to a more efficient and effective partnership across the board and resulted in the faster release of deliverables and accelerated ROI.
We made the platform as pivotal as the experience. We developed a platform that could serve as the workhorse behind the scenes to make sure the customer's digital experience was as seamless and efficient as possible. We made sure the experience was tightly integrated with the physical infrastructure it was running on so that adding or replacing a system or feature would be easy and go unnoticed by end users.
In the end, ideas for digital transformation must eventually come to fruition as proven, scalable, profitable and tangible outcomes that live and breathe in the real world. To make the kind of impact that matters to consumers as well as the bottom line, ideas can't be just developed, they must be implemented by experts who understand the full lifecycle of these types of transformation journeys.
At WWT, we have the thinking power and delivery power to seamlessly unite technology and business. You won't find another partner who combines the research, analysis, modeling and strategy development of a traditional consulting firm with the proven ability to deploy, integrate and operate complex infrastructure solutions at scale around the world.
If you're interested in learning more about our capabilities related to digital transformation, check out some of our case studies to see how we align business and technology, advise and execute, and blur the lines between physical and digital to simplify and accelerate the transformation journey.