Citigroup to stream media to corporate desktops

Citigroup's latest IT project allows live or archived digital content to be streamed to about 300,000 desktop PCs and other...

Citigroup's latest IT project allows live or archived digital content to be streamed to about 300,000 desktop PCs and other devices such as ATMs and televisions worldwide to deliver market updates, training or corporate announcements.

Citigroup began rolling out the technology in January as part of an integrated set of products from IBM called Digital Media for Banking. The content delivery system was announced last week.

Digital Media for Banking includes IBM's Intel-based xSeries servers, Cisco Systems routers and Cisco's Application and Content Networking System, a software package that runs on network-integrated appliances or router-integrated network modules.

The software gives enterprises and service providers an integrated local caching and content-delivery platform for network services.

The package also includes rich media automation software from Media Publisher.

Tony Raimundo, senior vice-president of digital media technology at Citigroup, said the company started the design of the internal media systems about two years ago.

He now expected to roll out Digital Media software to 150,000 PCs in 52 offices by the end of the year and to another 150,000 systems in 2005.

Citigroup concluded that uncontrolled media "was dangerous for our infrastructure", said Raimundo, adding that video on demand will help improve productivity by allowing bankers, brokers and other employees to watch training or corporate information videos when it is convenient for them.

IBM's digital content management package is focused on four areas in financial services: video communications for banking, digital merchandising for plasma-screen televisions, digital content management for packaging and publishing video media, and digital video surveillance for indexing video scenes based on movement.

"Management of digital video surveillance, that alone is a significant cost savings," said Keith Myer, a marketing management executive for the digital media group at IBM. "The ability to accurately retrieve information on a tape at a specific time is invaluable."

IBM's repository works by placing metadata with the streaming video, which allows it to be searched more easily. The software also lets administrators determine what to save.

Guillermo Kopp, an analyst at TowerGroup, said that while there is nothing new about associating metadata with streaming video, audio or graphic files for data mining and distribution purposes, IBM has structured it in a way that links the video with other digital records.

"Because of this semantic structure, it is linking [the media] to other records that the bank keeps in storage: customer records, product records, marketing information, customer analytics. It's about the structured linkage that's embedded into IBM's model that makes it different," Kopp said.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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