BBC New Media’s iMP Consumer Trial
In 2004, the BBC conducted the development of a new application, the integrated Media Player (iMP) to enable users to download tv and radio programmes to their laptop from bbc.co.uk and watch/listen to them for up to seven days following transmission. The initial technical pilot trialled the use of peer-to-peer distribution technology to share the files and Digital Rights Management to prevent users from copying and forwarding content to others.
Following a successful trial of the technology, the BBC embarked on the second phase of the project which was to run a consumer trial with 5,000 volunteers to test a revised application and to gather research data on the use and viewing behaviours of, the technology.
The BBC initially approached CMI Synergy to provide an independent audit of the consumer trial programme and identify any significant risks with the development of the new iMP player and the supporting content infrastructure. Following a successful audit, CMI was retained to project manage the consumer trial involving the recruitment and selection of the volunteers, set-up of the support desk and, gathering the market research data.
The initial approach for the audit was to conduct one-to-one interviews with the programme team and workstream leads. In addition, we reviewed key documentation and processes to understand how the project was structured and to identify any emerging risks and issues. CMI used dependency modelling to structure the investigation and to visualise how risks and issues were impacting the programme. A final report was delivered with a series of recommendations to improve aspects of the delivery.
As a result of the report, CMI were asked to project manage the consumer trial to allow the technical project manager to focus on the iMP development and infrastructure. Our approach in this regard was to divide the trial into three specific areas of delivery:
- The registration and selection of the participants.
- The help desk and support arrangements, and
- The gathering and validation of the research data.
The research data was identified as the key output from the trial, so this aspect was prioritised. By developing the scope of the data needed from the trial, the team were able to design the data collection methods, the timing of them and also ensuring success by linking data collection to the terms and conditions for joining the trial.
The team developed the processes for managing the trial as well as running the support function and data collection.
The three-month trial was rolled out to 5,000 participants from over 30,000 applicants. This was later extended by a further month to obtain additional data following an upgrade to the player after the trial exposed bugs and technical issues. The trial was considered a success and provided all of the necessary data in support of the Public Value Test and scrutiny by Ofcom and the BBC Trust.
Jon Mulliner, myBBCPlayer programme manager said “We initially engaged CMI to conduct an independent audit of the iMP project to understand the delivery risks across the BBC team and our partners. Using the dependency modelling approach, they quickly demonstrated that they had a comprehensive understanding of the project and its complexities and we seized the opportunity to bring them on board to manage the consumer trial”.