Time Warner Cable EVP and COO Shares Secrets of Great CX

Connecting with Bill Sobel

Mention Joan Hogan Gillman, and people in media and advertising tend to listen. Gillman is executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer, media services, for Time Warner Cable, where she leads the effort to deliver advanced advertising, data and interactive solutions for advertisers and network partners.

Gillman joined TWC in May 2005 as vice president of interactive TV and advanced advertising. But she's been on the cutting edge of new technology in media and advertising since 1995.

From 1995 to1997, she served as vice president of marketing for Physicians’ Online, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for the healthcare industry. From there, she made the jump into digital TV when she moved to the UK to head the business development, regulatory and legal teams for British Interactive Broadcasting, the digital and interactive TV joint venture between BSkyB, BT, HSBC and Matsushita. After returning to the US in 2001, Ms. Gillman served as president of Static2358 when it was an interactive TV, games and production subsidiary of OpenTV.

Build from the Customer's Perspective


Gillman said consumer-centric organizations build processes from the customer’s perspective. It’s the key to delivering the most positive customer experience, she said. She elaborated on that and much more during a recent interview with CMSWire.

Sobel: You've been described as someone who “has been on the cutting edge of new technology in media and advertising" since 1995, and have experience in both Internet and cable television. Beyond the obvious, what differentiates cable from online?

Gillman: Cable and the Internet have always been closely connected and interdependent. Internet 1.0 was ISPs with dial up software. Do you remember the discs? While at Physician’s Online, we went from mailing ISP discs to building our portal in HTML with clients logging in via DSL and browsers.

It was not until cable decided to disrupt DSL with significant investment in broadband did we see the surge in websites, as well as established publishers moving to the web and the birth of Internet brands that are part of our everyday life. Whether it's cable, publishers or Internet tech companies, each wants to see the Internet flourish. The healthier the network, the better the consumer experience.

Sobel: Before your work in technology, you worked in politics for former Democratic US Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Can you tell us how and why you made the move from politics and into the Internet side of the health care industry?

Gillman: In 1995, the Internet was the new thing. AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, Physician’s Online, Netscape … these companies were opening up a new world for content distribution, communications and community. While the consumer was at the center of the innovations, what interested me most was the coming together or convergence of industries — health care and communications, publishing and communications and so on.

In my years working in DC, especially as a legislative director, it always came down to communication and an industry/policy issue. It was never enough to just know the subject matter. Learning how to communicate the importance of a subject and learning how to build a community of support for an issue was critical to an issue advancing through the process. In 1995, I could see that the Internet was going to change industry and politics across the board and was excited to be a part of the change.

Sobel: Companies like Time Warner Cable are being challenged from all over with technologies such as satellite TV, IPTV, YouTube and the like. Can you talk a bit about that?

Gillman: Wow. What I love about what I do is that there is and will always be change and challenges for a business to stay relevant with consumers. Every day, consumers make choices. They change the toothpaste they use or pick a new place to vacation. Or they hear about a new show and stop watching an old favorite. Or they sit with their finances and make tradeoffs to save for a house or a college education or retirement.

Consumers have fixed amounts of time. Their discretionary spending has not increased materially and they love to try new things. Layer on top of the steady state of consumer behavior the pace of innovation in technology. Cable’s success today is tied to consumers wanting to spend time on devices, connected to Wi-Fi or the Internet or watching TV.

Cable moved very quickly to bring TV to mobile and IP-based devices in the home. Cable is connecting the home for the Internet of Things. Cable has a bright future if it continues to stay ahead and also remains the first call when consumers are navigating the challenge of an average today of seven devices in the home.

Sobel: Data enables advertisers and agencies to connect with their customers with the right message, at the right time, in the right place. Cable is innovating, too. Can you talk a bit about some of your plans that the typical cable television viewer might not know about, but should?

Gillman: Often the ideas come before the technology is readily available or scalable. Cable is committed to continuing to innovate on behalf of consumers, from connecting more devices in the home-to-home security to new UIs for accessing content. In each of these opportunities, consumers will seek more information about products and services and, if we do it right, we will make the information valuable and target it to the right places and interests. There is a great opportunity to help consumers manage their media and information across multiple devices and the same time improve their experience with and the relevance and helpfulness of marketing and advertising.

Sobel: In a recent interview you were quoted as saying: “The best way to juggle a busy day is to anticipate as much in advance as possible. Your guess, if informed, is as good as anyone’s. Then, align the team on common goals and filters, agree on roles and responsibilities, delegate appropriately, and focus your time on eliminating the obstacles that stand in the way of the team achieving the goals.” Can you elaborate?

Gillman: The foundation for information management, digital customer experience management and social business tools is a strong workflow, communication and clear priorities. As leaders, we need to manage and empower our teams to frame a vision and deliver on their goals.

In a consumer-centric organization, build the processes from the customer’s perspective to ensure a positive customer experience. Always ask what it means for the customer. Empower the team to share information freely. Develop a solid game plan with measurable check-in points for the leadership team to manage. Stay apprised of the marketplace while remaining nimble. Foster teamwork and build a culture that is focused on achieving the end goal together. Today, leaders need to motivate, advocate and delegate.