• Most Effective Use of IT in Professional Services
• Most Effective Use of Information
Winner: Lowe & Partners
Project: KM Portal
Business goal: To facilitate knowledge capture and exchange across an ideas-driven business.
Project partner: VYRE
Professional services businesses such as management or engineering consulting, professional recruitment and global advertising are intrinsically dependent on the knowledge and expertise of the professional staff that they employ. Often, however, as organisations grow and their operations become more diverse and widely dispersed, this vital in-house expertise becomes difficult to track and exploit to the full.
Lowe & Partners Worldwide have addressed this problem by creating a globally available knowledge portal. It is an information technology strategy that has radically improved the business, and was deemed a deserved winner of two trophies at this year’s Effective IT Awards.
Lowe is one of the world’s premier advertising agencies – a company whose commitment to the “power of the high value idea” has seen it win the business of such well-known global brands as Electrolux, Nokia, Nestlé, Stella Artois and Unilever.
However, around the turn of the decade Lowe’s success began to be a source of problems. After a decade of aggressive merger and acquisition activity, the company had grown to encompass 100 different agencies, operating in 80 countries around the world. Many of these agencies used different and incompatible information technology systems.
This posed “threats” to the efficiency of the group, said Drew Murdoch, Lowe’s knowledge management portal project manager. These included the creation of barriers to effective information sharing; obstacles to knowledge retention when key personnel left or retired; and the dilution of group cohesion and identity. The diversity of systems also made it difficult to design and automate consistent business processes and to quickly construct and reconstruct the best creative teams to win and retain business.
Murdoch and his teams’ response to this daunting set of problems was the ‘Lowe Go’ knowledge portal – a virtual desktop that provides the company's staff with fast and secure access to all the information, people and businesses tools they need to work together seamlessly and effectively regardless of where they are, or what they are trying to achieve.
Like most good ideas, Lowe Go sounds beguilingly simple, but it is actually an extraordinarily sophisticated and powerful business tool that has streamlined Lowe’s business processes at a number of levels.
The key element of Lowe Go is its knowledge management capabilities, which allow staff from different disciplines (management, finance, creatives and planners) to show and view common information in the way that best suits them. But that is not all Lowe Go does.
With access to all information now centrally managed, Lowe Go has also provided a platform for delivering better strategic planning tools, and a digital asset management system that has made it far easier for staff to collectively view and manage the company’s portfolio of 90,000 TV commercials.
This alone has provided Lowe with a compelling return on its Lowe Go investment, enabling the company to reduce the annualised cost of its show reel production process by £4.9 million – a return on investment of 62.4% in just one year.
Murdoch and his technology partners from VYRE believe that there will be many more benefits to come. This year for instance, now that Lowe Go is in place and proven, Lowe is preparing to dispense with expensive specialist tape decks and monitors. This will free up capacity on the company’s network, and should produce savings associated with the procurement and management of tapes of another £3.7 million.
It is no wonder that with such obvious benefits to show case, Lowe’s Lowe-Go project has proven to be an Effective IT winner. As one judge summed it up “great innovation that really aligns IT with business”.
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Most Effective Use of Information
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