Sony has prepared for next spring's launch of its most important product in six years by standardising on a single middleware platform across Europe to meet retailers' orders.
It is close to completing the European roll-out of the Sterling Commerce platform to help manage orders for its Playstation 3 games console, which is set to be among 2007's most significant product launches in any market, with millions expected to be sold across the world.
To manage sales in Europe, Sony is using Sterling's Gentran Integration Suite 4.0 tool to take orders from more than 250 European retailers, after rolling it out over the past 12 months. Only Greece and Turkey have yet to go live.
Graham Hill, application integration manager at Sony Europe, said, "We have made sure our infrastructure can support the launch of the Playstation 3. The driver is to improve the process flow across the supply chain."
The Sterling Commerce tool has been integrated with the company's Europe-wide implementation of SAP enterprise resource planning software, which Sony has been rolling out over the past few years.
Hill said the SAP deployment had enabled Sony Europe to standardise its interface with retailers, rather than continue to use country-specific systems.
An added advantage of the move is that it has been easier to find developers with experience of working with the Sterling tool than with many of the older tools Sony was using.
Hill said, "We have already got benefits from moving to one platform although, to begin with, some developers suggested that since how we communicated with retailers wasn't broken, we shouldn't fix it."
When Sony implemented the Sterling Commerce tool, many retailers were connected to the application at a country level, but a significant number have since expanded their e-commerce businesses to cover every country in Europe.
This has resulted in Sony building a central hub to interface with retailers' systems at a Europe-wide level - something made possible by standardising on Gentran Integration Suite.
Sony Europe is also using the application to send procurement, sales, inventory and demand forecasting information to Sony Japan.Comment on this article: email@example.com