BBC Worldwide launches product master data management to boost revenue

BBC Worldwide has started a master data management programme focused on products. The first step was to define product as anything licensed or sold. Communicating with the business was crucial.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the broadcaster, is putting in place a product master data management framework to avoid overpayment or underpayment on royalties. Jacob du Toit, enterprise architect at the organisation, will tell the story of BBC Worldwide’s product master data management journey at a forthcoming MDM summit in London.

Du Toit is part of a five-person team that took its first step on that journey by defining what the organisation should mean by product. “Anything that we sell or license is a product,” he said. This deceptively simple definition took a great deal of brains-cudgelling. For example, an episode of Dr. Who could be productised in more than one way, and even du Toit confesses it is hard always to remember that.

For more on product master data management

Sony Pictures instantiates the old saw: The key to MDM success is sponsorship and business buy-in

Oracle and IBM lead product MDM pack

Discover how the BBC is evolving its approach to digital asset management

Delegates to IRM UK’s Master Data Management Summit will hear about BBC Worldwide’s product master data management programme, which began in October and is due to be completed in 2013.

The immediate trigger for the product master data management, or product MDM, activity was a “big programme of work around deal management between the BBC and third parties. This sparked the thought that while [staff speak of ] products managed by BBC Worldwide, they don’t all mean the same thing,” du Toit said.

His advice to others embarking on an MDM journey is not to speak of an MDM journey. “Avoid all techie talk. The first place to start is to define your terms: product, customer. What is a product? What is a customer? Then you need to build relationships in the business, gaining trust. The days of IT sitting in a dungeon are gone forever.”

BBC Worldwide reported a net profit of £160.2 million on revenue of £1.16 billion in the 12 months to the end of March last year. It plans to raise commercial income to £320 million by 2017 . It is organised in five operating businesses: content and production, sales and distribution, consumer products, “consumers and new ventures”, and channels and brands -- such as such as BBC America, UKTV,, Dr. Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear.

Du Toit explained that a board-level drive to expand the organisation’s business-to-consumer revenue lies, in part, behind the attempts his team is undertaking to make product management more transparent, across B2B as well as B2C. This dual customer focus makes doing product MDM a complicated business, he said.

The project team is starting with audio-visual products -- the programmes as broadcast -- but will extend to physical products, such as DVDs, Blu-Ray Discs, Teletubbies toys, necklaces from Cornwall (“popular in America”) and so on. There is also a sweep of digital products, such as subscriptions to the global version of the BBC iPlayer, video on demand, download to own: all are things licensed or sold. The main benefit is to ensure better reporting for royalties to contributors, so the organisation doesn’t overpay or underpay.

While MDM vendors like to speak of multi-domain, the BBC Worldwide enterprise architect team does “not want to merge the concept of product management into sales. We want a framework that ensures the products are managed regardless of how they are sold. Our focus is on product. The B2B business might be a candidate for customer master data management, but with B2C you just have too many consumers,” du Toit said.

The organisation’s main ERP system is SAP. It uses SAP Business Information Warehouse for finance reporting, HR and sales reporting. It also uses MicroStrategy for business intelligence reporting, du Toit said. But he confirmed that no technology choices have yet been made on the product master data management programme.

Read more on Master data management (MDM) and integration