“MGM as a company, I would love to call us a 100-year-old startup,” Manoj Parakkal, Senior Architect at the storied film and television studio, said during his session on how IT is transforming MGM Studios at Workato’s recent user conference.
Just a week later, news broke that Amazon would be acquiring the company for $8.45 billion to continue increasing the quality of offerings on Prime Video, especially as studios create platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max to host their own offerings and don’t license the content to be shown elsewhere.
After hearing from Parakkal about the internal efforts to bring MGM into the 21st century through a lofty goal to automate business processes at scale, the marriage between the companies feels particularly apt.
Parakkal, who has been working in the IT industry for over 22 years, began the hefty task of auditing the company’s business processes back in 2018. He identified two main issues: siloed data throughout the organization and tedious approval processes.
With thousands of excel sheets and emails floating around, data throughout the company was difficult to access, only shared within a small group of people, and not readily available for use. The first step in transforming this bottleneck was to take the company onto the cloud. Parakkal describes a “lift and shift” approach in which they replaced their decades-old legacy systems with new cloud-based applications.
Once those applications were in place, and all of the siloed data transitioned onto the cloud, Parakkal employed Workato to connect their new apps and further integrate their data. He knew that “there should be an easy way to connect these systems,” so an iPaaS was top of mind when figuring out how to ensure the data he finally freed from the dark was accessible.
Once new, best-of-breed technology was introduced, Parakkal tackled three different projects, some of which are ongoing efforts to transform the business.
His first and most critical project was to improve the company’s digital supply chain (DSC) management. As a production studio, MGM deals with an unimaginable amount of digital files and content. “Our goal is to have an end-to-end data flow across all systems that includes content acquisition, metadata enrichment, production, sales, content management, content delivery, and programming and traffic.” In other words, Parakkal wanted to create a flawless data transfer across the various systems and also implement an error-handling process that would ensure everything was as accurate as possible.
Although the DSC automation effort is ongoing, Parakkal has successfully transformed MGM’s visibility into 360 degree title performance as well as back-to-office compliance checks through automation. The latter implementation, from concept to rollout, took just one week using MGM’s new technology.
In order to get a better sense of how movies are performing across regions, streaming services, movie theaters, and on television, Parakkal created a process that collected, parsed through, and organized revenue data that came from multiple different sources. While the total impact of titles was difficult to determine before this implementation, MGM now has a more holistic view of performance.
“I am passionate about using technology to design innovative solutions that drive business outcomes,” Parakkal said at the beginning of the session. Though the automation journey at MGM is young, the impact of these changes has already been felt throughout the business.