WPP is one of the world’s largest communications services groups. It comprises a range of different businesses operating in the same industry sectors and although they are separate and compete with each other, they are all part of the WPP group. Obviously this throws up interesting technology issues for WPP’s CIO David Nicoll. “Historically the technology has been kept separate across the competing brands,” he says.
“Each business operates separate silos of IT and beginning to pull some of it together was a key project last year. For example, we are installing an outbound call aggregation facility with a central switchboard in the UK. The whole project will reduce our voice bill by 30 per cent.”
A common WPP initiative is the global procurement of as much of its IT as possible. Changes in the last two to three years in IT procurement are saving more and offering all the companies an example of best practice. Nicoll, who has been at WPP for 12 years, says the company’s turbulent history and decentralised structure has become one of its strengths. “The whole organisation is very used to change and because we are open to different ideas, we can look at all the companies and how they are doing things, and take the best practice from each.”
Because of the nature of WPP’s organisation and the client confidentiality between different companies, there will never be completely shared IT according to Nicoll. “But as time goes by more of the supporting IT functions will be centralised.”