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BBC tells SAP-Informatica success story

Robert Westervelt, News Director

The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) is upgrading its SAP R/3 system to Enterprise this month, and the media company is touting a revamped business intelligence system for helping make the process a painless one.

The BBC will go live with its upgrade Monday. The company is upgrading from SAP R/3 4.0b, said Clive Seymour, business intelligence manager at the BBC.

Speaking to participants during a Web seminar hosted by SAP and BI software vendor Informatica Corp., Seymour described the immediate improvements the 81-year-old media giant will see with its new data-gathering and reporting tools, as well as the Enterprise upgrade.

Seymour is on a team that is modernizing the BBC's IT systems, beginning with automating its reporting processes, using Informatica software. Informatica's PowerCenter software is allowing the BBC to maintain a tremendous amount of stability during the upgrade, as well as position the company to allow far more analytics features, Seymour said.

"Our senior executives decided they needed a better quality of information and the ability to get their hands on information faster," Seymour said. "We needed one central source where there's no dispute over the values of the data, and we wanted to try to reduce the amount of time people were reporting across our systems, freeing up time to analyze the information."

Informatica's software links data from eight databases and then validates, cleanses and transforms the data. The

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data then goes to SAP's Business Warehouse (SAP BW) software suite.

"We recognized an immediate need for extraction, transaction, load (ETL) capabilities, and found that SAP BW met our needs," Seymour said.

"What the BBC is doing with PowerCenter is helping make the upgrade to Enterprise effortless," said Joshua Greenbaum, principal consultant at Daly City, Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting. "The upgrade is important, since they were on 4.0 version and that's a big leap [to Enterprise], which gives them ... access to a lot of functionality."

Using PowerCenter, data from audience, production, broadcast and scheduling systems are brought together nightly, and the data's available almost immediately.

The BBC's selection team evaluated a number of BI vendors before selecting Informatica, Seymour said. The decision was based on internal documentation, debugging and a preferred user interface, he said.

The implementation team had only minor technical problems connecting PowerCenter to SAP systems. At certain times, a router or switch box was blocking the ports that were needed to connect to a particular system, he said.


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To provide feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.


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