Finishing the Virgin Media infrastructure integration while supporting the continuing growth of the business are the twin challenges for Howard Watson, chief technology and information officer at Virgin Media, over the year ahead. The company, which was launched in February, encompasses ntl, Telewest, Virgin Mobile and Virgin.net, has obviously been undergoing a major integration project since the combined organisation was announced last year. Watson says there are three strategic pillars the company is working towards: synergy, growth and efficiency.
“The aim is to realise £250 million from annualised synergies,” says Watson. “This is a two year programme to bring everything together into a single IT infrastructure and we are about half the way through.”
There are several major parts to this including a critical billing migration programme, an ERP system, and an enterprise-wide datawarehouse.
The vision behind the strategic plan is to provide all the people in the business with a single integrated customer view, according to Watson. Currently the organisation has 4.9 million non-mobile customers. In product groups this breaks down into 3.1 million for broadband, 3.3 million for TV, 4.1 million fixed line telephone customers and 4.5 million mobile customers. Migrating them all to a single billing system is critical and involves incorporating four legacy systems into a single one. The ERP project is putting disparate and legacy systems onto the latest instance of Oracle, addressing all three strands of the company strategy.
“This is now about exploiting its power and we will be using the system’s online functionality to improve efficiency and support growth, as well as maximising synergies,” says Watson.
“A single point of truth” is how Watson describes the enterprise-wide datacentre. “It is a single engine and brings everything to life for our employees who are handling the customers,” he says. “We want to make life easier for our colleagues in the business by offering a single view, but allowing them to have the information they need at their fingertips.”
In addition the company has opened a new datacentre in Swindon and is half way through a workplace infrastructure rationalisation and consolidation using XP and Office 2003.
“We want to make life easier for our colleagues in the business by offering a single view, but allowing them to have the information they need at their fingertips”
– Howard Watson, CTO and CIO, Virgin Media