May 24, 2006 (03:05 PM EDT)
Marketing Company Taps Microsoft For Collaboration Tools

Read the Original Article at InformationWeek

McCann Worldgroup says it is working with Microsoft to create a platform to satisfy the increasing appetite for digital media and need for tighter collaboration worldwide.

The global marketing conglomerate, which serves more than 3,000 clients in 100 countries that speak dozens of languages and dialects, has tapped Microsoft Corp.'s Connected Services Framework to help collaborate among its network of offices and customers, such as Microsoft Corp. and Viacom. Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server will support the platform.

The project will house the media, provide an active directory to view content and deliver media in any digital or physical form. When the first phase of the project is complete later this year, it will let employees publish, browse, search and access assets from the media repository, as well as securely transfer large high-resolution files from one location to another across the globe.

The project, a joint venture with Microsoft, will cost between $500,000 and $700,000, according to McCann. It includes the media content repository and getting the firm's New York office running on the platform. "If we successfully complete even 80 percent of the project, I'll be over the moon," said Greg Smith, chief information officer (CIO) at McCann Worldgroup. "I'm confident we'll build the infrastructure. It remains to be seen if we can make the required culture change from e-mail to a collaborate system."

The goal to transition from shipping files through e-mail and parcel post will produce a self-service workflow platform and provide a consistent approach to print and broadcast production. If someone in London wants a finished piece of media created for a client in New York, they can access the SharePoint portal, view available media spots in a low resolution format, and pick the files they want delivered in any format.

The platform will eliminate e-mails, create accountability for projects, produce schedules, and tie into the financial operations. It could also eliminate shipping when the content is distributed digitally. The ability to track digital management royalties will also link into the platform.

Less than 200 people will access the system to start. As the project expands, more than half of the 18,000 employees who move media content, work in billing or accounts payable, monitor broadcast rights management, schedule advertising placement, or serve customers in other ways will use the platform.

"The biggest obstacles have been cost, getting our hands around the entire spectrum of the workflow for broadcast, and setting up the infrastructure to support the project," Smith said. "We've made about four passes to make this work. Trying to move a company and agency this size toward a standards-based system is a difficult task."

Microsoft is one of McCann's largest clients, the agency said. Other major global clients include General Motors, L'Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Intel, MasterCard, UPS, Unilever and Verizon.