Although the newspaper business evokes the sights and sound of the presses, more than the quiet hum of web servers, it has been Trinity Mirror CIO Tony Pusey's task over the last few years to gear up the company's technology so that it can compete in the fast moving digital media world.
He maintains that he has managed to change the company's corporate culture so that every one there appreciates how critical the IT element is to its survival.
“In fact we term it the technology-led operating model, and that new model is based around centralised, virtualised web services-based technology.”
In addition to established hardware and operating systems suppliers such as HP, IBM and Oracle, Pusey has been working with a number of other partners. Of these, the one with the highest profile is Google, which he is using for its hosted messaging and collaboration tools.
He is also working with Cable & Wireless to set up VoIP and unified communications and, in the back office, he has started to roll out a CRM package from Salesforce.com.
Providing the core editorial and publishing applications is a specialist content management system vendor called Mediaspectrum.
Pusey has been working with Mediaspectrum to fine-tune its hosted ContentWatch application, which enables editorial teams to channel content freely to multiple media formats, be it print, web or mobile.
It’s a broad transformation, he admits.
“We are reviewing and revamping the whole of our WAN and LAN, voice mobile communications facility, implementing VoIP, integrating it with mobile and alongside that introducing new collaborative solutions like Google apps to facilitate a much easier and better mobile working.”
Pusey notes that he came up against a great deal of hostility from journalists in his efforts to shift the company away from a print-media focus, but even they recognised the benefits of improved mobile communications.
As the pace of news-gathering has increased, it is critical that Trinity’s journalists are able to access editorial and publishing systems wherever they are in the world.
“To be fair if you look at what we’ve done just over the last month in Google apps, everybody was expecting huge resistance. In actual fact the whole journalist community accepted it on Day One. All the feedback was very positive about the way it was allowing them to collaborate.”
Pusey thinks that his colleagues’ increasing familiarity with the mobile devices and web services in use outside the workplace has made acceptance of this later stage of the transformation project a lot easier for staff to accept.
“I think that they also understand the pressures on traditional print business and they recognise things are going to have to change if they are going to survive in what is effectively becoming a digital world,” he states.
Flexible and secure
Pusey appears pretty confident that he has been able to divine the direction that the company needs to go in and that he has the IT in place to support the business strategy.
When asked what it was that keeps him up at night, he was sanguine in his response.
Nothing much overly concerned him about the IT delivery model, which he thinks is now mature enough to support enterprise business, but he is aware of the inherent risks.
Having core systems available remotely or over the web means security is an issue, but he recognises that it’s an issue that has to be balanced against the extra flexibility the business needs to be able to innovate at the speed at which the market is adopting new technologies.
Outside the UK, regions like India are opening up new consumer markets with mobile devices and Trinity Mirror is a global media player.
To ignore those realities would be to court decline.
“There is the speed of the change and the need to be able to provide a business with a platform that actually can change at the speed of the innovations, particularly around mobile devices. So security keeps me up at night: how do we ensure the flexibility within our security infrastructure to be able to cope with those demands and at the same time stay secure?”
Clearly, Pusey’s long tenure at Trinity Mirror, which began in 2000, has given him a comprehensive overview of the business that a CIO with less time at the company would struggle to achieve.
It has certainly helped him win over the sceptics when he has been out across the organisation selling the concept of a hosted IT strategy. Pusey is also lucky that he has the patience to play the long game so that he can reach the point where he is really excited by the changes taking place.