The goal to integrate several properties across the company will move advertising, circulation, distribution, invoicing and online onto one common platform. The overhaul will replace many semi-custom systems across the businesses, many no longer supported.
The platforms vary in age. "In New York, the advertising system is between 15 and 20 years old," said Chris Mayer, CIO for the New England Media Group at The New York Times Co. "The advertising system in New England, which was written internally, is about 15 years old. The circulation system recently installed gave us some integration, but isn't big enough to support what we want to accomplish with the SAP solution."
The New York Times Co., with 2005 revenues of $3.4 billion, publishes The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, and has properties in radio, online content, specialty products and direct mail.
There are multiple modules for advertising and circulation, Mayer said, as well as numerous publications and locations that will tie together.
The project design began in January. Installation will get underway in the third quarter of 2007. Some new infrastructure is being added. Mayer expects to retire the existing systems as the application comes on line and users get acquainted with the technology.
Although SAP NetWeaver standardizes processes for reporting and analytics, it also will assist to integrate older systems with new. "NetWeaver already knows how to talk to SAP," said Bruce Benson, entertainment & media principal at SAP America Inc. "It can map your exiting legacy systems to the SAP platform without you having to figure it out."
Integrating systems and processes will give The New York Times Co. a better understanding of its customer base. Having access to the information could identify opportunities for circulation department representatives to upgrade subscriptions, for example, or sales employees to add online advertising to print contracts.
"We're looking at this as a business transformation," Mayer said. "The goal is to align the business across the company to gain a consistent view of our customers and have the ability to support future initiatives like new products."