Music firm overhauls information systems to keep up with soaring digital sales
EMI Music last month posted a 13 per cent rise in pre-tax profits, partly attributed to a doubling of digital music sales.
The announcement is further evidence that the music industry is in the throes of a digital revolution, with downloads increasing and sales of recorded music declining. Technology is a key part of strategies intended to capitalise on the digital market while combating a growth in piracy.EMI has recently overhauled its systems and improved its business intelligence and management information. Previously the company’s data warehouse used business intelligence tools from Hyperion, and contained only sales data.
‘We collected data in a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database and exported information into a Microsoft Excel document,’ said global programme director Richard Piercy.
‘From there, employees had to build pivot tables manually to organise that information, create slides presenting the trends and then send them out. The whole process took two days.’
The growth in digital business meant EMI needed automated reporting to provide up-to-date information and to make local information available globally.
Working with IM Group, EMI has installed a data warehouse and front-end applications, including business intelligence, analytics and reporting, collaboration, document management and a portal.
It brings together the Microsoft business intelligence framework and uses SQL Server, Analysis Services, Reporting Services and SharePoint Server.
‘It was part of an overall change that began three years ago,’ said Piercy. ‘We needed a management information capability that could support and respond to new market pressures.’
The platform, called Pulse, delivers information on market and consumer research, sales figures, airplay details, charts and financial performance.
EMI employees can use the sales analysis functions to access detailed sales data from around the world and run customised reports. For example, all 6,000 corporate intranet users can compare physical and digital sales performance data from individual acts such as Robbie Williams or Coldplay. This can be broken down by geography, retailer, artist or by release.
The near real-time view of the information allows EMI to monitor the performance of campaigns worldwide.
This in turn allows EMI to meet release date deadlines, optimise sales and save management and analytical time.
Piercy says staff have welcomed the system, primarily because it is easy to use and requires no training. Pulse also unites structured and unstructured management information.
‘There is now a lot of management information rich text. It is not all just grids and numbers, so we needed a single portal that presented all data in a consistent manner,’ said Piercy. ‘A lot of people are talking about it, but no one is actually doing it.’
EMI digital… in 30 seconds
* EMI represents more than 1,000 artists, operates in 50 countries and licenses its music in a further 20 countries.
* Digital music sales have more than doubled in the past year, generating more than £112m compared with £46.9m last year. The strong demand for downloads helped EMI boost pre-tax profits by 13 per cent.
* Previously, its data warehouse contained only sales data and reporting on the status of the supply chain was semi-manual. It could take up to two days to access critical information on sales and performance.
* EMI has implemented Pulse, a management information and business intelligence system. Everything from airplay to sales data and chart position can be accessed by 6,000 corporate intranet users.
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