Sony Playstation and Oracle
“We were able to achieve our goal of creating an outsourcing center of excellence due to Oracle’s willingness to take a long-term view of the relationship and the exceptional efforts of my business application team.”
Sreedhar Vaidyanathan, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Playstation Business Unit
When Sreedhar Vaidyanathan joined Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) three years ago, the IT organization was firing on all cylinders, facing major projects from multiple angles. While a colleague handled a campus move, including detailed relocation planning and business planners worked to make the PS4 release top previous successful launches, Vaidyanathan was charged with developing an all encompassing cloud strategy for core and non-core IT functions.
Vaidyanathan knew from the start he had lofty orders and expectations from the executive management team. Luckily, he also knew he had the support of a strong, talented team who would apply not only their IT skills but be willing to build new relationships both internally and externally to improve IT’s impact on the business. The Sony Playstation unit had been experiencing strong growth with recent product releases, but this success exposed some shortcomings in back office processes and point of sale. Additionally, IT found it challenging to find and retain people with Oracle E-Business Suite skills. Recognizing this as an opportunity, Vaidyanathan made a critical decision to shift sales and operations planning to the cloud, selecting to rearchitect key business processes rather than migrate data that would leave business leaders without improved intelligence. Data from PS1 to PS3 would be part of the solution, allowing business units to see the “big picture” including trends, POS results and post sale behavior.
Finding a partner willing to take a long term view
As the business case and sourcing process evolved, in stepped the Oracle Managed Cloud Services (OMCS) team. Taking a long-term view, they recognized the SCEA IT team needed a full software and hardware platform refresh to accomplish their objective of improving the stability and performance of Oracle Siebel Master Data Management (MDM), Oracle Hyperion and Oracle E-Business Suite to support historical product launches. So rather than approaching this opportunity as a sales pitch, OMCS helped SCEA open up new avenues to pursue their goal of a Business Intelligence (BI) strategy in cloud. Their solution allowed SCEA’s IT team to view data from a Unified Data Layer (UDL), a layer containing data from Sony’s Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds.
Phased approach pays off
Not many IT projects achieve zero priority 1 issues during the go-live and stabilization period – but this team did. “By defining a four step process that started with reengineering key business processes, we had absolutely no priority 1 issues during the cutover,” explained Vaidyanathan. “Another reason for the successful cutover was the willingness of both partners to spend time together explaining business processes in detail and building a plan that matched milestones to testing analytics and measured real business benefits.”
Vaidyanathan and his team ended up extending the initial documentation of existing business processes but cites this as time well spent. Mapping out new processes, linking to ERP, supply chain and other systems, business leaders are now confident they have the intelligence to make better business decisions. Oracle takes care of the e-business while Sony Playstation business and IT groups focus on expanding their core business.
By creating a single sign-on, SCEA seamlessly connects to other internal and external partners and can stay focused on launching new Sony products. In less than three months, dispersed user records were migrated to the cloud and integrated with on-site Oracle Siebel systems. With over 95 million users, business leaders gained the ability to see everything they wanted to know about each user in one place. Customer care center call times were reduced—saving millions of dollars.
Cutting customization costs was another huge advantage the IT team achieved. “We’ve seen custom order reports drop from 3000 to 300 and customization reduced by 70%,” Vaidyanathan said. Operations costs have also dropped as common information across business units can be accessed, thereby minimizing the need for customized reporting.
The outsourcing relationship has also enabled SCEA management to sharpen its focus on key business priorities to boost efficiency and drive innovation. “Sharing our best-in-class solution and building an outsourcing center of excellence is an extra benefit that spreads beyond our business unit,” says Vaidyanathan. Using Fusion middleware, today 70-80 million records are loaded daily, allowing other Sony entities to share in the business benefits experienced by the Playstation unit. More units are likely to leverage the resources put in place within this center of excellence over the next few years fueling a competitive advantage for numerous Sony business units.
Creating a different type of partnership
What makes this relationship a winner? One of the reasons Vaidyanathan and his team selected Oracle Managed Cloud Services was not just their experience and expertise in providing the application platform but their ability to bring appropriate support and product teams to resolve the issue as needed.
Adding “skin in the game” created a collaborative, responsive—even proactive partnership. There were many occasions OMCS brought senior technical team members from their eco systems to resolve performance or applications challenges for a rapid resolution while keeping the sanity of applications and lining up with SCEA principles to use out-of-the-box functionality. OMCS also worked in good faith to bring additional services on-line while contract changes were being finalized. This flexibility and trust between the two partners enabled SCEA to meet aggressive deadlines and may be just what’s needed as the contract renewal deadline approaches in May 2014.
As for areas to improve, Vaidyanathan revealed that he would have spent more time documenting and fine tuning the governance model before proceeding with outsourcing. Complications encountered early on were due to lack of understanding all the interconnections between existing systems and providers.
To keep this partnership running smoothly and ensure an open channel of communication, OMCS and SCEA hold regular weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with leadership. SCEA is also a member of the Oracle Managed Cloud Services Customer Advisory Board. As a board member, SCEA interacts directly with senior OMCS personnel to provide feedback on Oracle’s future plans and recommend areas where improvements are warranted.
By taking a long-term view, providing extra support, and understanding SCEA’s IT and business goals, the Oracle Managed Cloud Services team is viewed and accepted as an extension of the SCEA team. Together they are delivering services that provide a competitive differentiator for Sony Playstation.