Thomson Reuters, which is rapidly eliminating legacy technology to save costs, has said it learned hard lessons from the accumulation of systems through acquisitions.

The business information firm, which was formed out of the £8.7 billion merger of Thomson and Reuters in April, said it was making “tough decisions” on ripping out unnecessary systems and duplicated content databases, following the merger.

The group is targeting £640 million efficiency gains by 2011.

Peter Moss, head of content, technology and operations at Thomson Reuters, said that the group is cutting down from five real time information networks to one. It is also reducing its 37 content databases to 22, after it identified overlaps in the information, but will not change the current mix of Oracle, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server technology.

“One of the things we’ve learned is that nothing can be perfect, but the most important thing is to make a decision and stick with it,” Moss said, explaining that the business was becoming more efficient. “We have in the past over-analysed things.”

The merger of Thomson and Reuters was “a catalyst to sort out” the overlaps, he said.

Thomson Reuters told investors last month that it had completed the group-wide rollout of a major SAP enterprise resource planning system, beyond its existing use in Thomson. “The rationale was that we needed to standardise accounting, billing and payment,” explained Moss.

An in-house back office system is being built, under a project called GCAP, to handle the group's entire selling process from sales pitches through to order processing and system provision. This stems from a project that began in Reuters before the merger.

The completion of the SAP and GCAP projects will allow Thomson Reuters to launch a 'common product platform' by the middle of next year. This means a standard entitlement system, desktop software run by users to access data, will be supplied instead of the 40 different systems being used at the moment.

The group will primarily run customer relationship management using Siebel software, after consolidating all customer data into one master file, and billing will be executed on systems.

The company employs 9,000 IT and back office staff, including those who maintain its databases, as well as software developers and operations staff. A further 2,000 are embedded within the business units, rather than in a specific back office department.

But over the next year it is due to cut 650 technology, content and back office operations jobs as part of its business overhaul. It also established an offshore location in India to handle some of the company’s finance functions.

A £500 million deal with Fujitsu, previously signed by Reuters, still stands for basic desktop management services in that part of the group.

The Thomson Reuters datacentres run IBM, HP and Sun servers, based around Microsoft Windows Server software and Intel architecture, as well as Sun Solaris with Intel and AMD x86 architecture.

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