ITN Source is one of the most recent manifestations of one of the most recognisable brands in the UK. ITN has been providing news bulletins for the ITV network and Channel 4 for decades. Over the years it has inevitably built up an amazing archive of moving image content – estimated at over 700,000 hours of footage, the accumulated treasures of ITN, Channel 4, Granada, British Pathé, Reuters, Fox News and Fox Movietone and other specialist collections.
These cover historical events – such as the Falklands War, the space shuttle disaster and the horror of 9/11 – through to music, entertainment and film clips. Formerly known as ITN Archive, the operation was rebranded last year as ITN Source, given a £1 million injection of investment and charged with putting the archive on to a more commercial and lucrative footing through deals, such the one struck with Google to provide video content to the online giant’s video store.
“Changing our name to ITN Source more accurately reflects what we do and communicates the diverse range of content we have to offer customers,” says ITN Source’s managing director Sue Thexton. “As a business, we have already been living the Right Content, Right Now concept, and the new investment will allow us to do so with even better efficiency. The new corporate vision confirms that ITN isn’t just a news company but a dynamic and creative innovator.”
ITN Source is the gateway to the largest collection of moving image libraries in the world, housing over 800,000 hours of iconic footage. The explosion in multimedia broadcasting has led to a significant growth in demand for archive material worldwide. Until recently, ITN Source was using a rudimentary system to receive, track, and manage customer orders. But with archive demand now growing at a rate of up to 40 per cent annually, the company realised the system lacked the scalability and functionality needed to manage an increasing volume of sales opportunities. As ITN Source expanded into more international territories and acquired more customers, it needed a new sales management system which was flexible, easy to use, and quick and cost-effective to deploy.
With headquarters in London, ITN Source has sales offices across the globe in New York, Los Angeles, Canada, Berlin, Paris, Johannesburg, Sydney and Tokyo, all of which need to be unified into one sales system. That is where a SaaS implementation came into play. To begin with, ITN Source used a rudimentary system to receive, track, and manage customer orders but this simply was not going to be able to cope with growth rates of up to – and beyond – 40 per cent per annum. “Content is very popular right now and our customer base is expanding dramatically, not just among the traditional broadcast sector but also the corporate sector, advertising agencies, education and so on. The ability to track our customers and know what they’re buying is absolutely imperative,” says Thexton.
“We had two different systems for financial management and use Virtual Office to track customer transactions. These had very different processes. We have nine offices globally. We identified that we wanted a CRM system that could be integrated with financial management. We wanted one system, not two.
“We needed something that would be very scalable. We have an ambitious five-year growth plan and we needed something that would scale. We wanted something that our IT department could work with but we didn’t want to have something that needed months of extra professional services work, as has been the case with other CRM projects I’ve worked on in the past.” There was no inherent conviction that a SaaS system was what the division needed. All paths were explored – both on-demand and on-premise – with the assistance of a third-party in the form of Deloitte Consulting.
“We did not have inherent CRM skills or knowledge inhouse, so we went to a number of advisers,” says Thexton. “We used Deloitte to help us through the RFP process and make sure we were asking the right questions.” In the event, a shortlist of one on-demand and one onpremise was drawn up, with Salesforce.com being chosen. “We had a deadline to deploy the end-to-end sales management system worldwide in only three months – and for that reason we shied away from a complex, time-consuming, on-premise CRM solution,” says Thexton.
"The management team can now accurately analyse real-time reports on sales enquiries, orders, fulfilment and financials"
Sue Thexton, managing director, ITN Source
“It took three months to get up and running. I was gobsmacked when it was delivered on time and on budget, especially when you consider that we were using professional services.” Initially ITN Source rolled out Salesforce.com’s sales force automation (SFA) application to 80 sales professionals worldwide. The goal was to create a single, comprehensive view of all sales contacts, including their profile, archive purchase history and relationship with ITN Source. When a customer contacts the company to request archive material – using their preferred channel of communication – all of the details concerning the order are recorded in Salesforce.com. This can be shared among all the relevant members of staff to ensure the order is properly managed, processed, delivered and invoiced according to the customer’s needs. ITN Source also did a lot of customisation. “There was no way any other system was capable of dealing with our business model,” says Thexton.
“We had a lot of customisation at the same time we integrated it with Integra. But that was the first stage, then about six months after that we needed to hook it up to our website with e-commerce functionality. Whenever anyone makes an enquiry or wants to buy something, all the data is fed straight through into the CRM system. After that we also hooked it up to a big asset management system, where all of the video content has unique identifiers and again it is then accessed through Salesforce.com as well. All told, we have had three different stages of integration. Personalised dashboards provide comprehensive management reporting and analytic insights into any situation, from revenue forecasts and demand for particular archives, to customers’ trends and buying behaviour.
“It makes a real difference to what we know about our customers. For every member of staff, it is now significantly quicker and easier to produce quotations, record research results, place and track orders, manage the production process and track shipments,” says Thexton.
“The management team can now accurately analyse real-time reports on sales enquiries, orders, fulfilment and financials. Our marketing team is able to concentrate efforts on the right customer segments and target audiences. We now have a fantastic handle on who our customers are, how much they bought,if it was more or less than last year. My life has changed because I can see any aspect of reporting anywhere in the world at any time.” The end user take-up is a valuable win: “I am not an IT person but I have always worked alongside IT departments,” says Thexton.
“Trying to get any level of responsiveness to my business needs has always been a real challenge in that there has always been a technical reason or a priority setting that they have that’s not about my business requirements.
“From a user’s perspective and that of a customer of the IT department, I have historically found it very challenging. I have been in a number of different companies and user take-up and rollout is something that I have had to deal with any number of times. A lot of it is about the company’s commitment to making the training happen. You can have the best IT system in the world but if the managers don’t take the responsibility for ensuring people are trained and using it, then the data that’s in there isn’t going to be viable.” With offices around the globe, ITN Source was aware of the need to have robust security. “We did discuss the issue of customer data being held elsewhere, as customer security is important,” says Thexton, “but we were happy with Salesforce.com’s security measures. We also talked extensively to other customers and not just those ones that they gave us as references. We talked to them explicitly about security and downtime. So far, we have had one downtime for about 20 minutes.” So would Thexton take the same decisions again? “The only thing I would do slightly differently is, in terms of getting the buy in, actually training people more. I bought into the belief that you could train people for half a day and off you go. Actually it took about a month. But I didn’t set out in the first place with any preconceived idea about whether it would be inhouse or not. There was no reason for me to plump for that decision, it’s just that Salesforce.com provided the systems that we wanted. The decision is always about what is right for the business.
“ One of the things I liked about this model is the focus on getting the services worked on as quickly as possible and moving on. Which is the complete opposite to other service suppliers, where it’s about how many services can they sell in and for how long can they extend it. Actually it was a very painless experience.”