Media & Entertainment: Media Outlets Go After Efficiency

Businesses consolidate systems and improve collaboration.
If there are two forces driving IT decisions at media and entertainment companies, they're homogeneity and efficiency. Companies ranging from newspaper publishers and game makers to printers and digital-media firms want enterprise-standardized technology, lower costs, or both.

For printer Banta Corp., that's meant consolidating four disparate enterprise-resource-planning systems into one PeopleSoft Inc. platform and increasing EDI connections to customers. At game-maker Electronic Arts Inc., the focus has been on launching an Oracle-on-Linux environment designed to lower costs, improve reliability, and reduce customer churn, all related to its subscription-based Sims Online virtual-world game.

In the newspaper business, companies such as the New York Times Co. and Knight Ridder Inc. have approached the problem of IT fragmentation in a variety of ways. The Times is rolling out a state-of-the-art publishing system at its flagship daily as well as at the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette, setting the company up to compete more effectively with simplified editorial and production processes. It also launched a partner portal that lets the newspapers and their business partners collaborate constantly on routing, delivery changes, and customer-complaint resolution, replacing a process that had become error prone because of its manual nature and the complex transfers of information between transactions systems.

But Knight Ridder has perhaps been more ambitious. The publisher of 32 daily newspapers, including the Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and San Jose Mercury News, has been standardizing its circulation, advertising, editorial, and payroll systems to create a more-centralized infrastructure and thus more efficiency throughout the chain, VP of technology Steve Hannah says. The benefits are expected to be numerous: sharing of best practices among publications, improved flexibility in selling multinewspaper ad packages, and simplified IT upkeep, to name a few.

Improved visibility into all aspects of the business may be the greatest payoff. The new systems, Hannah says, will "allow for consistent reporting across the organization."

Rank Company Revenue in millions Income (loss)
in millions
92 Electronic Arts Inc. $2,482 $317 330
167 New York Times Co. $3,079 $300 200
217 Banta Corp. $1,367 $44 239
222 Knight Ridder Inc. $2,842 $257 542
237 Dow Jones & Co. $1,559 $202 840
254 Advo Inc. $1,130 $42 162
259 Harrah's Entertainment Inc. $4,136 $235 481
352 Cablevision Systems Corp. $4,003 $90 421
467 Quad/Graphics Inc. -- -- 335
482 AMC Entertainment Inc. $1,792 ($20) 54
Financial data is from public sources and company supplied.
Revenue is for latest fiscal year.
Employee data is from InformationWeek 500 qualifying survey.

Average portion of revenue spent on IT 3%
Average percentage of industry applications and business processes that have Web-based front ends 35%
Companies with real-time business processes in place 90%
Hardware purchases 18%
Services or outsourcing 15%
Research and development 1%
Salaries and benefits 32%
Applications 19%
Everything else 15%
Average year-over-year revenue change 20%
Average year-over-year net-income change 30%
See year-over-year shifts in business-technology practices for this industry. Compare and contrast this year's data with last year's.

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