Going global in the

 
 
By Lynn Haber  |  Posted 2006-05-22 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


digital age"> "The digital challenge is increasingly global in our day-to-day business, which drives the need for greater collaboration within EMI," said Andrew Hickey, EMI Musics chief technology officer, who is responsible for capital investments in new technology globally.

To help launch its IT initiatives, EMI Music worked hand in hand with MTSS, which helped the company understand and align its business challenges with its IT strategy, according to Hickey.

"We worked with EMI Music executives on the strategic piece of getting the company and the technology from A to B and creating a road map," said Michael Vermeersh, enterprise strategy consultant with MTSS and an expert in the media industry as well as Microsoft solutions, based in London.

The music companys next move was to talk about its new business challenges. To morph into a music-business leader in the digital age, EMI Music first had to assess what it was up against. In the 2002-2003 time frame, it convened company executives worldwide, including the CEO and chairman, vice chairman, managing directors, and others.

EMI Music also formed an IT investment committee that included the companys chief financial officer and head strategist.

"Its easier to look at the broad dimension of the challenge and know where you need to go than it is to know how fast you can reach your final destination," especially when it means making investments in IT, Anderson said.

"We looked at the consumer angle first because thats where the music world is going," he said.

Company officials examined EMI Musics core capabilities and asked what it could do faster, better and cheaper and also looked at the capabilities the company needed to acquire to succeed in the digital age.

EMI Music had a common approach embedded in everything from strategy to execution, and language linked to both management processes, that is, reviewing and approving investments, and management attention, commensurate to importance.

Functionally, EMI Music developed two spheres: one representing the strategy around direction and execution, the other around global technology investment, according to Anderson.

Along with partners, EMI Music formulated its technology objectives by identifying the key strategic criteria for transformation—the need to consolidate business processes by developing centralized and standardized IT in order to capitalize on investments and operations, according to Hickey. This concept of standardization spread across the four work streams that the company had identified as critical: digital storage, transaction management, management processes and the marketing hub.

"Standardization," said Hickey, "is key to creating global efficiency and speed."

Another core transformation initiative that went hand in hand with the four IT work streams was the creation of a new GTA (Global Technology Architecture) that involved processes and technology, according to Vermeersh. For example, the GTA defines the context, support, processes and approach to how each project stream should be carried out.

"We brought in ThoughtWorks, a certified Microsoft technology partner, to support GTA integration objectives and help keep the projects on track," Vermeersh said.

One of EMI Musics biggest IT challenges was system consolidation, according to Vermeersh.

"EMI Music has grown through acquisition, which has led to IT complexity," such as inheriting a variety of legacy systems and the need for great amounts of integration, he said.

Historically, for example, EMI Musics local operating companies used individual ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. Today, working with MTSS and Accenture, EMI Music is moving to a single global platform: SAPs MySAP ERP software running Microsofts SQL Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 and BizTalk Server 2004. Accenture provides the manpower to help EMI Music with new system deployment, according to Vermeersh.

More than halfway through the multiyear project, the transaction management system—which handles finances and sales—is now live in two of EMI Musics biggest markets, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is scheduled to go live in Japan by the fall. The companys third-largest market, North America, is slated to go live next year, followed shortly thereafter by continental Europe (primarily France and Germany), according to the company.

EMI Music also created a centralized repository with a single global view of the companys artists, music releases and products. The database sits on a single SQL server with Microsofts Active Directory. The digital storage solution went live at the end of 2004.

EMI Musics new marketing hub gives its marketing managers worldwide a coordinated environment for communication. Tapping a Web-based interface, users can access the portal, submitting plans or sharing ideas on the latest version of documents. The hub replaces sending Microsoft Word marketing documents worldwide to multiple parties via e-mail.

With projects still under way, Vermeersh continues to work daily with the GTA team and to meet at least quarterly with Hickey and EMI Musics CIO.

Long term, EMI Musics goal is to lower IT operations costs and create global efficiencies. "Our goal is to innovate one time versus 10 times," said Hickey. Standardization and consistency, he said, will ultimately enable EMI Music to deliver its product across partners, geographies and markets with the agility and speed demanded by the digital age.

Lynn Haber is a freelance writer based in Norwell, Mass. Contact her at lthaber@comcast.net.

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