Ziff Davis Enterprise plucks new CTO Magnotta from RBI-US

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Earlier this month, Brian Magnotta joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as chief technology officer, a new position. Previously, Magnotta was CTO for Reed Business Information-US, which divested or closed its controlled circulation brands earlier this year. Magnotta has more than 20 years of experience in information technology management, including stints at Monster Worldwide, McKinsey & Co. and Coopers & Lybrand. At Ziff Davis Enterprise, Magnotta reports to CFO-General Manager Michael Caruso.

Digital Directions: What are your primary responsibilities as CTO?

Magnotta: I am responsible for all aspects of information technology, including strategy, development, implementation, infrastructure and support. I have a team of about 10 people, as well as external providers who help us provide high-quality, cost-effective services in areas such as infrastructure and development.

DD: What are your priorities in the near term?

Magnotta: I'll be working with the senior management team to enhance and build some new capabilities for the company's portfolio of digital products. We'll be looking at new technologies [for the content management system], as well as recommendation engines, personalization, semantic search and so forth in order to increase the functionality of our editorial websites and further drive integration between our audience marketing database and our websites.

DD: That integration will facilitate lead generation and behaviorally targeted advertising, right?

Magnotta: Those are primary objectives in the near term.

DD: Tell us more about your plans for the CMS?

Magnotta: In order to meet the goals I've described, we will need new functionality and capabilities within the CMS, but we haven't decided whether we will be upgrading the existing system or implementing a new solution. The CMS we primarily use now is open-source, but I'm not going to get into which one it is.

DD: How long do you think it will take to implement this first set of priorities?

Magnotta: We have started already and are fully committed to this. It will probably take until the first or second quarter of next year.

DD: How do you think your experience at RBI-US will help you in your new job?

Magnotta: Ziff Davis Enterprise has many of the same opportunities in e-media that existed at Reed, so I plan to leverage what I learned there from both a business and a technology perspective. ZDE probably made the shift from a print to an online mindset sooner and more quickly than Reed did. This is not only because [ZDE's properties focus on IT]; it's also because of the people here and the commitment of the senior team. Having the right technology is important, but you have to have the support of top management along with that. I think this will allow us to get to the next level at a more accelerated pace.

Over the course of my career, I've had roles overseeing all aspects of technology, which has given me a very broad background. By that I mean development—building solutions, coding and programming—as well as managing the infrastructure to support all of that. The philosophy I have used is to take what I know about technology and work with the business units to understand how it can be applied to solve business problems and further grow the company.

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