Remaking Paramount Pictures

By Kim S. Nash  |  Posted 2006-01-06 Print this article Print

Companies will be cautious with their technology budgets in 2006, and many will allocate dollars on a case-by-case basis.

COMPANY Paramount Pictures: a $2.2 billion movie company in Los Angeles.
CIO: Ed Trainor
2006 TECH SPENDING: about $68 million, down 10 percent from 2005's $75 million.
TOP PROJECTS FOR 2006:(Trainor and his technology staff will design and install basic infrastructure as Paramount breaks off from Viacom):

  • Establish Paramount's own television business by using software custom-developed for it last year by Sophoi Inc., a vendor that specializes in IP (intellectual property) rights management applications. Sophoi's programmers in Pune, India, built the software with Java tools and an Oracle Corp. database.
  • Focus on business intelligence tools to understand retail sales trends in the home entertainment business—DVDs and tapes. Trainor is working with a contractor to build a Microsoft .Net application for customer and sales analysis.

    He is evaluating responses to a request for proposal for a product planning and forecasting project, including one from InfoSys Technologies Ltd., based in Bangalore, India. A decision is expected early this year.

  • Dissolve Paramount's joint venture with Viacom to distribute movies internationally, and take on the job itself.

    To avoid implementation problems while so much else is happening, Trainor is simply cloning the joint venture's distribution system, a mix of custom and packaged software on IBM's AS/400 minicomputer. Trainor will review options for replacing the aged software after the dust settles, he said.

    Trainor on longevity: "I've been here 12 years as CIO, and I don't know whether it's through dumb luck or what that I'm still standing."

    COMPANY SuperShuttle International: a $100 million door-to-door airport van service based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    CIO: Mike Hogan
    2006 TECH SPENDING: $1 million

  • Finish deploying a cell phone application to manage the company's 1,000 blue-and-yellow vans, which run between homes, offices and airports across the country.

    Written with software from Vettro Corp. in New York, the reservations, payments and financial reporting system replaces customized taxi dispatch software installed in 2000, supplemented with drivers' pagers and clipboards of paper forms. The application runs on Java-enabled Nextel phones.

  • Install an IVR (interactive voice recognition) system for phone reservations. Of the 10,000 daily reservations, 3 to 4 percent come through an existing touch-tone telephone system, 25 percent come via the Internet, and the rest are made through live phone conversations or done in person at airports.

    The goal is to get IVR reservations to 25 percent of the total. The company hasn't chosen a vendor yet.

    Hogan on going centralized:"Ten years ago, we had five [office] locations. Every time we started [doing business at] a new site, I'd go out and spend a couple of weeks and install all the applications. I would customize our applications for that location.

    "Now, we've gotten to where we have a central [data center and] application. We can add another location and it's a matter of a [phone] circuit, enough PCs for people there to use and a router, and we're done.

    "Ten years ago, the I.T. staff was six people. Now, we're half the staff and three times the revenue."

Senior Writer
Kim has covered the business of technology for 14 years, doing investigative work and writing about legal issues in the industry, including Microsoft Corp.'s antitrust trial. She has won numerous awards and has a B.S. degree in journalism from Boston University.

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