Trust, cooperation and trust: Verizon Media SVP EMEA Kristiana Carlet’s Reasons to be Cheerful

As the coronavirus pandemic has quickly become the new normal, NDA wants to celebrate the positives of our current situation.

We spoke to Kristiana Carlet, VP EMEA at Verizon Media, to ask what she was so cheerful about.

 What, if any, positive long-term impact on the digital industry will coronavirus have?

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, there’s been a vast acceleration in a lot of the trends we were starting to see emerging prior to the global lockdown situation – particularly the way connectivity and digital platforms and experiences are shifting the way we work, live and play.

From a business perspective, we’ve seen this most prominently with the likes of virtual team meetings, but also at a greater scale with things like virtual training sessions and international conferences or summits going digital – potentially meaning that even more people can gain access to the expertise and insights that these events bring.

This is something we can expect to continue as we head into a post-Covid-19 world. While on a lesser scale than we’re seeing currently, people have seen the value these digital practices and platforms can bring to a business – from reduced travel, improved time efficiencies and even helping to reduce the carbon footprint. There will be an appetite amongst business leaders to incorporate them more strategically into their operations moving forward.

On a consumer level more broadly, we’ve also seen the likes of virtual exhibitions hosted by museums and galleries as well as virtual concerts, quiz nights and comedy gigs. Take the virtual Fortnite concert with Travis Scott for instance – this saw more than 12 million players logging on to take part, which is almost a fifth of the UK population!

Experimentation in new formats to bring things like movies, music and other entertainment into virtual experiences is already accelerating and we could see some really interesting and new ways these will be brought to life – especially as 5G allows them to be held in real-time. 

As consumers and businesses have become more accustomed to these online and virtual platforms, those operating in these spaces across the digital industry will be in a strong position not only in the near future, but for many years to come.

What positive impacts on long term consumer behaviour shifts will it have?

One of the main shifts that I’ve really witnessed first-hand is people becoming more humble and finding greater joy in the simple things. From writing each other notes of encouragement to sending our friends, family members or neighbours tokens of appreciation like flowers or candles, the rise in these small gestures has been heartwarming to see – and the impact that they can have on people who are struggling is truly remarkable.

I think this experience has also put a spotlight on trust even more for consumers, particularly when thinking about the type of news and content they’re consuming. There has been an unparalleled amount of information at our fingertips in recent months about the Covid-19 crisis, but this has not always been from trusted and reputable sources and I think people have become increasingly aware of the importance of high quality, honest journalism.

This focus on quality and honest reporting is at the heart of our editorial teams across the likes of HuffPost and Yahoo and I believe these values will continue to resonate with consumers as the world moves forward. 

What positive impacts have you seen on how your business operates?

Cooperation and collaboration has always been an integral part of our DNA at Verizon Media – it’s one of the differentiating factors that really sets us apart as a business. With the team already working well in this area, it’s been fantastic to see further improvements here that will help to support our business operations and those of our customers both now and in the future.

In particular, our teams have been sharing valuable knowledge and insights across their global counterparts more than ever before to support colleagues and friends on a professional and personal level – offering learnings from customer feedback and consumer trends, as well as analysis across markets, and sometimes even just a friendly face and ear when needed. 

As well as increased collaboration, we’ve also seen a host of innovative and creative new ideas borne out of the current lockdown situation. For example, our RYOT team is pivoting to create virtual solutions through AR, VR and 3D experiences for our customers outside of our new 5G Studio due to open in our London office. 

As well as generating these creative solutions, we’ve also seen a deeper focus on the high-level, strategic conversations we’ve been having with our customers. Over the last couple of months, we’ve been committed to listening to our customers about the challenges they’re currently facing and sharing guidance and consultancy that can address their immediate business needs, as well as how we can continue to support their business in the long term once we move back towards a more typical way of working.

These open and strategic conversations have helped us to further strengthen our relationships with customers – and show them how much we value these long term relationships and the trust they place in our business.

What have you been most heartened about in how your staff, partners, customers or clients have reacted to the new normal?

Our CEO, Guru Gowrappan, has been incredibly visible and transparent during the lockdown period, ensuring that our colleagues are kept informed, reassured and motivated. I think our teams around the world have really appreciated and felt supported through this open communication.

It’s expected of course for senior leaders to give strong and clear direction and guidance at times like this, but I’ve found it very reassuring how much our CEO and all of our leaders really care about the mental and physical wellbeing of all our staff.  

As well as being employees and colleagues, many people within the Verizon Media team are also mothers, fathers and even carers. It’s therefore been a huge priority for the business to support these individuals as they navigate working remotely and the challenges that can often come with balancing work and family life.

Our Culture Committee have also been doing a fantastic job organising activities to help our employees connect, have fun and unwind – from weekly online quiz nights, yoga and mindfulness sessions to a series of virtual cooking classes. It’s also been really great to see so many people across the business putting themselves forward to help each other; drawing upon their own talents and interests.

For example, one of our leaders in France is a DJ in their spare time and has been putting on regular music nights to bring people together – we’ve seen over 600 people joining in to enjoy his sessions! On a smaller scale, our teams have also been enjoying virtual breakfasts and lunches to keep each other company. Seeing this drive and passion amongst our teams to stay connected and support one another has been really wonderful and encapsulates the people-first approach we live by as a business.

What technologies have you been most impressed with during this new situation?

Given the nature of our global business, we’ve always ensured that we use our technologies to their fullest potential in order to allow as much of our work as possible to be done from anywhere. With that said, one of the things that I found particularly impressive was the speed and efficiency in which we transitioned all of our offices across the globe to a company-wide work from home set-up. As well as supporting a quick and efficient turnaround, we were also able to ensure we did so in a way that did not impact the quality of the content and services we deliver to our customers.

I think for many businesses the ways they’ve been able to transition and adapt to remote working will pose some interesting questions in terms of how they will operate in the future and potentially adopt more of a digital focus.

The topic of 5G was also starting to become more prevalent prior to the Covid-19 crisis and businesses and operators alike were talking a lot about the experiences and benefits 5G could bring to everyday life in the future.

The global lockdown situation has accelerated these conversations around connectivity and the creation and adoption of a lot of these virtual and mixed-reality experiences, with many people and businesses now recognising the potential of the technology through virtual concerts, gaming, gallery tours and more.

The value that people have seen recently in digital working platforms and how the use of technologies like these will become more streamlined, feature-rich and simple as 5G becomes more prevalent will certainly encourage an uptake in their adoption sooner than we may have originally expected.

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