Competition in the entertainment industry has never been as intense as it is today. For decades, the movie business in the U.S. was dominated by a handful of entertainment conglomerates, known as “The Big Five”: Disney, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures. But these days, an ever-blossoming field of cable networks and streaming services – from Apple to Hulu to YouTubeTV – have gotten into the act and are not only featuring work created by the established Hollywood titans but producing high-quality content of their own.
What all this adds up to is a huge amount of content. Which means a huge amount of choice. Which means a huge amount of competition.
This is a brutal environment for content producers whose business depends on catching and holding the attention of viewers who have choices – so many choices. It’s never been more critical to an entertainment company’s success to function with maximum efficiency, especially when it comes to handling its data.
Sony Pictures Entertainment needed to up their game
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) had a problem. Their enormous volume of data was split between two separate SAP ERP systems, causing delays in data access and loading, creating gaps in historical reporting, and preventing them from using the latest accounting principles to manage their lead ledger. These inefficiencies affected everything from accounting to production planning.
SPE wanted to combine their rich reservoirs of data into a single, readily accessible, insights-driven platform that would provide a single source of truth, improving efficiency while reducing cost of ownership and removing redundancies.
Doubling down on risky business
When a large organization depends on a highly customized ERP system, any change invites a host of potential perils from go-live failures to endless testing cycles. The process is risky enough when upgrading a single legacy ERP – with two, the risks more than double. And when you’re proposing to implement change while the vehicle is already in motion, there’s no room for error.
In technical terms, SPE’s mission was to re-implement SAP S/4HANA from a combination of legacy SAP S/4HANA and SAP ERP Central Component systems, while making numerous value-added process improvements including standardizing document types, eliminating retired accounts, and improving overall data quality.
As with any perilous mission, success would depend on a combination of the right strategy and the right team.
The Strategy – ESOAR lets Sony roar
SPE adopted a five-phase strategy known as ESOAR, which stands for Eliminate, Standardize, Optimize, Automate, Robotize.
- Phase one, “Eliminate”, identifies and eliminates wasteful, inefficient and redundant business activities.
- Phase two, “Standardize”, seeks to implement business processes that are standardized in strict alignment with business priorities and goals – the key here is guidance and approval from key stakeholders to ensure that standards serve their needs, rather than standardization for its own stake.
- Phase three, “Optimize”, introduces technological solutions wherever machines can perform more effectively and efficiently than their human counterparts, freeing up people to devote their skills and energy to areas where the human factor is critical.
- Phase four, “Automate”, introduces new technologies, such as machine learning and AI, to increase intelligence or add new functionalities to existing solutions.
- Phase five, “Robotize”, builds on the previous phase by deploying robots to handle repetitive or simple tasks, further liberating people to focus on activities only human beings can perform.
All for one – one for all
A strategy is only as good as the people who carry it out. To ensure that they would accomplish their mission with maximal success and minimal disruption to the enterprise, Sony Pictures engaged SAP’s ActiveAttention services, which leverage not only SAP’s technology but its people. It is a program that establishes a Front Office, a Mission Control Center, and a Transformation Hub, bringing SAP experts into the organization to assist with all aspects of implementing SAP solutions in a complex system landscape.
SPE and SAP worked together as one change management team. Thanks to this partnership, the mission was a success, yielding a 60% reduction in finance systems operating costs, 80% data load improvement leading to continuous accounting optimization, and cutting the project timeline due to SAP enterprise services methodology by six months.
Bill Stellman, SPE’s Executive Vice President – Global Finance Operations, hailed the partnership approach: “The level of commitment, project management and collaboration across all teams was not just unprecedented but has raised the bar for all projects to come.”
To learn more about SPE’s amazing accomplishment that earned them an SAP Innovation Award for 2022, check out their award pitch deck.