Product Transformation Christian Idiodi

Sling TV’s Need for Speed

By Christian Idiodi

Sling TV is an American streaming television service and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dish Network.  Back in mid-2015, Sling recognized the shift to cloud services and mobile technology and launched as the first OTT service provider. OTT services bypass cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms to provide consumers with a less expensive but higher quality entertainment experience.

For Paddy Rao, Sling’s SVP for Strategy & Technology, transformation is nothing new for the company.  Instead, it’s something that had become standard practice throughout the organization.  

“Sling has a tradition of reinventing itself. We invented the first pay-television market. Then we invented Sling TV, and now we’re inventing the 5G entertainment network. The rule of thumb for us is that if you stop transforming, you stop growing. Transformation is part of the journey. It’s the process by which we’re able to continually improve not only our company but our ability to serve the customer.   For us, transformation is not a one-off that just happens. Transformation is part of our DNA.”

Speed Was the Motivator

Today’s world moves so fast that it isn’t enough to simply meet customer expectations. If Sling wants to provide the best possible service, then it has to anticipate expectations and run ahead of them.

For an engineering organization, this translates into the need for speed.  Even though they were fast before, they have to continually get faster.   Speed allows Sling to iterate, to test, and to learn from its mistakes.  “On average, we are now about 50 to 100 times faster than we were two years ago,” says Paddy Rao. “Today, we’re able to meet our customers’ needs literally on demand, on a daily basis, sometimes on an hourly basis.  

One area that benefits directly from Sling TV’s commitment to speed is Site Reliability Engineering. This defines how an engineering organization should run its business. For most people, television is not just entertainment. It’s an essential service. It’s how they stay connected with what happens around the world. It’s a critical part of their lives. This means that Sling TV has to be up and running and instantly available 24 x7.

A Speed-Driven Culture

For Sling TV, transformation is not just about speed.  Speed is the outcome.  The real driver is culture.  To support and promote its culture, Sling created an acronym: CPAW.  This stands for curiosity, pride, adventure, and winning.  Alignment with these core values is something Sling looks for in every employee. Sling wants people who are curious about their customers; about their preferences and problems and their ever-changing needs.  They also want their people to be willing to take chances and try new things.

According to Paddy Rao: “The journey is the challenge. It never ends. You can never stop transforming yourselfSling TV is a growing enterprise.  The transformation is in force all the time.  Which is why we’re hiring all the time.   We’re constantly looking to improve.  We’re not the folks we were even a year ago, and a year from now we won’t be who we are today.  That’s how fast things change. And it’s all for the better.”

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