MERP: Glues all your Business

MERP: Glues all your Business

30 May 2011

Media Enterprise Resources Planning: Concept and Application Framework.

Abstract: General introduction and implementation process about the upgrade to a software based solution in media industry is described in this paper, followed by the analysis of the importance of building an integrated information system for media companies. The concept of MERP, which is the ERP-oriented solution for media information systems, would be put forward in this paper as an integrating solution.

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The Media industry has in most part moved from tape to file-based workflows, this means they are also moving from dedicated video projects to software solutions, which involve the design and development of all categories of application systems, which caters to the needs of media enterprises. What was once an evolutionary, piece-by-piece development should now be considered holistically, that is, a single large-scale integrated information system implemented as the total solution.
However, to be easily understood, during the analysis of this new information system, we will still divide the integrated system into independent functional systems and discuss them respectively. These systems should not be treated as small-scale, independent and disparate applications provided by different manufacturers with no uniform standard, but rather as sub functional modules of the whole, the integrated media information system.
In recent years, powerful digital technology and related high speed information technologies are influencing the whole workflow of television program production, and re-inventing the traditional philosophy of production management and the workflow itself.
This reform has had a great impact on all aspects of medium-to-large-scale television stations, especially in the area of the business management and back-office activities. As traditional broadcasters ‘morph’ into broad reaching file based multimedia information providers their demand for business management and back-office activities rapidly becomes complicated as their operational and engineering system gradually becomes completed, and new workflows developed. In actual operation, these new workflows will certainly lead to the appearance of an integrated information management platform, an integrated business workflow incorporating both production and broadcast workflows and more.
The multi-functional domains, various administrative levels and rights together with different requirements of separate departments in the operational workflow and their varying depth of information processing made it impracticable to develop numerous, isolated application systems and combine them with a multitude of interfaces. A product that caters to the practical requirements of the entire station could only be implemented by planning and designing a new breed of integrated information system model. Traditionally, TV stations often develop or deploy isolated systems applications, with little room for growth and expansion, following particular requirements of various departments, such as traffic, sales production, accounts etc. Moreover, these systems are usually inherited directly from the products of earlier developers. These products do not always fulfill the actual requirements in today’s daily work, and their core foundations and database structure often cannot be unified, which creates difficulty with their interoperability. These interoperability problems limit automatic and intelligent management of the business flow of TV stations. Therefore, it is necessary and vital to scheme out a whole solution to meet the requirements of internal information management of media companies now and as they move to the future.
With the file-based IT television platform in place, we now need to introduce the concept of “Media Enterprise Resource Planning”, or MERP. ERP is a concept of modern enterprise information management which has been widely applied in manufacturing industry etc and brought a much higher level` of production efficiency. The fundamental idea of ERP is to plan and implement information-based enterprise management and production processes from the aspect of a supply chain and its surrounding resources as the core. ERP caters to the administrative requirements of enterprises as they confront local and global market competition, and process information in conjunction with the supply chain, in order to understand its weakness and improve its performance. The core purpose of ERP is to manage all the resources of the enterprise, documenting, reporting and forecasting them clearly, so as to provide the enterprise with greater strength, performance and confidence as they face severe market competition. Through ERP, the production process of an enterprise is managed upon the basis of the supply chain and resource management. This is different from traditional Management Information Systems, where the management process is split into several vaguely-related, statically-implemented subsystems merely from the view of human-computer interaction. Moreover, with the development of Internet e-business and new media target ERP inside the enterprises will no longer work independently. New media leads enterprises into reconsidering their customers and markets, pushing them to reform traditional management model and business operation methods. Activities of enterprises will no longer be local but distributed and even global, and the internal management of enterprises will turn from production-oriented mode to customer-and-market oriented mode, and transit from centralized administration to self service, while the everyday affair management will also be transformed into intelligent management, the independent business of enterprises will also be replaced by business-network business. The integration of ERP with e-business requires ERP to adapt to the characteristics of e-business in terms of architecture, technology and function. ERP is the foundation of e-business: it both supports and guides the latter. The foreground and background applications should be clearly divided in service function, seamlessly connected in workflow, and closely integrated with each other so as to ensure the smoothness of data exchange. The architecture of the business applications should be streamlined and clean because the integration with other components has to be considered. And the interface technology should be standardized. These ERP comments have been made with the manufacturing industry in mind. Let us now layer them on the broadcast or MEDIA industry. Manufacturing characteristics could be obviously seen in the business model of media industry. For example, the core business process of media content providers is to produce or purchase certain original materials, namely, media materials and sources, process them into end products, namely, programs for broadcast, and put them into marketing or broadcasting. The manufacturing-like characteristics of media industry’s business model lends itself to the integrated information management application platform that contains, in certain sense, the properties of ERP. To that effect, ERP has been transformed into MERP!
The combination of the concept of ERP and the information management in media industry leads to the concept of MERP. MERP is a large-scale information management system based on the supply chain of media industry and directing towards the management of resources and financing. Different to conventional ERP systems, MERP exhibits important characteristics of multimedia, that is, the management and exchange of mass multimedia information is involved throughout the whole-of-business flow.
The multimedia-related processes of MERP are detailed as the following list:
• Multimedia Resource Management
• Media Assessment Management (MAM)
• Multimedia File Exchanging Management
• Video-and-audio-based Business Operation
• Resource Management and Planning
• Sales and Customers Relationship Management
• Purchasing and Producing

MERP represents a total solution for the management of the whole media industry since the development of an MERP system is a large-scale system engineering project. As the media industry evolves and broadly adopts MERP, development of independent applications will still exist. But the development of such kinds of application systems should base on standardized architecture, and pursue tighter system planning, analysis and design, so that these independently developed applications could become the functional subsystems of the integrated MERP system in the future. Consistency of information description and the interoperability of subsystems and modules is paramount to integration at a high level can be realized.
It is known that the introduction of a well implemented ERP system brings considerable benefit to many industries. There is no doubt the advanced concept of MERP has and will continue to bring improvements within the entire flow of the media enterprise management. The concept of MERP is changing the media industry as it embraces the digital age, it will improve efficiency, performance, and quality of service, forecasting and planning, and all the rest of features necessary in this highly competitive market place. Adopting the MERP approach is surely a big compromise since it involves all actual operations of the company, but it will make you take your first steps to a competitive edge and thus achieve a distinct advantage over any competitor.
Introduction
The Media industry has in most part moved from tape to file-based workflows, this means they are also moving from dedicated video projects to software solutions, which involve the design and development of all categories of application systems, which caters to the needs of media enterprises. What was once an evolutionary, piece-by-piece development should now be considered holistically, that is, a single large-scale integrated information system implemented as the total solution. However, to be easily understood, during the analysis of this new information system, we will still divide the integrated system into independent functional systems and discuss them respectively. These systems should not be treated as small-scale, independent and disparate applications provided by different manufacturers with no uniform standard, but rather as sub functional modules of the whole, the integrated media information system.
The Entire evolution of the Media Industry
In recent years, powerful digital technology and related high speed information technologies are influencing the whole workflow of television program production, and re-inventing the traditional philosophy of production management and the workflow itself. This reform has had a great impact on all aspects of medium-to-large-scale television stations, especially in the area of the business management and back-office activities. As traditional broadcasters ‘morph’ into broad reaching file based multimedia information providers their demand for business management and back-office activities rapidly becomes complicated as their operational and engineering system gradually becomes completed, and new workflows developed. In actual operation, these new workflows will certainly lead to the appearance of an integrated information management platform, an integrated business workflow incorporating both production and broadcast workflows and more. The multi-functional domains, various administrative levels and rights together with different requirements of separate departments in the operational workflow and their varying depth of information processing made it impracticable to develop numerous, isolated application systems and combine them with a multitude of interfaces. A product that caters to the practical requirements of the entire station could only be implemented by planning and designing a new breed of integrated information system model. Traditionally, TV stations often develop or deploy isolated systems applications, with little room for growth and expansion, following particular requirements of various departments, such as traffic, sales production, accounts etc. Moreover, these systems are usually inherited directly from the products of earlier developers. These products do not always fulfill the actual requirements in today’s daily work, and their core foundations and database structure often cannot be unified, which creates difficulty with their interoperability. These interoperability problems limit automatic and intelligent management of the business flow of TV stations. Therefore, it is necessary and vital to scheme out a whole solution to meet the requirements of internal information management of media companies now and as they move to the future.
Media Enterprise Resource Planning (MERP)
With the file-based IT television platform in place, we now need to introduce the concept of “Media Enterprise Resource Planning”, or MERP. ERP is a concept of modern enterprise information management which has been widely applied in manufacturing industry etc and brought a much higher level` of production efficiency. The fundamental idea of ERP is to plan and implement information-based enterprise management and production processes from the aspect of a supply chain and its surrounding resources as the core. ERP caters to the administrative requirements of enterprises as they confront local and global market competition, and process information in conjunction with the supply chain, in order to understand its weakness and improve its performance. The core purpose of ERP is to manage all the resources of the enterprise, documenting, reporting and forecasting them clearly, so as to provide the enterprise with greater strength, performance and confidence as they face severe market competition. Through ERP, the production process of an enterprise is managed upon the basis of the supply chain and resource management. This is different from traditional Management Information Systems, where the management process is split into several vaguely-related, statically-implemented subsystems merely from the view of human-computer interaction. Moreover, with the development of Internet e-business and new media target ERP inside the enterprises will no longer work independently. New media leads enterprises into reconsidering their customers and markets, pushing them to reform traditional management model and business operation methods. Activities of enterprises will no longer be local but distributed and even global, and the internal management of enterprises will turn from production-oriented mode to customer-and-market oriented mode, and transit from centralized administration to self service, while the everyday affair management will also be transformed into intelligent management, the independent business of enterprises will also be replaced by business-network business. The integration of ERP with e-business requires ERP to adapt to the characteristics of e-business in terms of architecture, technology and function. ERP is the foundation of e-business: it both supports and guides the latter. The foreground and background applications should be clearly divided in service function, seamlessly connected in workflow, and closely integrated with each other so as to ensure the smoothness of data exchange. The architecture of the business applications should be streamlined and clean because the integration with other components has to be considered. And the interface technology should be standardized. These ERP comments have been made with the manufacturing industry in mind. Let us now layer them on the broadcast or MEDIA industry. Manufacturing characteristics could be obviously seen in the business model of media industry. For example, the core business process of media content providers is to produce or purchase certain original materials, namely, media materials and sources, process them into end products, namely, programs for broadcast, and put them into marketing or broadcasting. The manufacturing-like characteristics of media industry’s business model lends itself to the integrated information management application platform that contains, in certain sense, the properties of ERP. To that effect, ERP has been transformed into MERP! The combination of the concept of ERP and the information management in media industry leads to the concept of MERP. MERP is a large-scale information management system based on the supply chain of media industry and directing towards the management of resources and financing. Different to conventional ERP systems, MERP exhibits important characteristics of multimedia, that is, the management and exchange of mass multimedia information is involved throughout the whole-of-business flow. The multimedia-related processes of MERP are detailed as the following list: • Multimedia Resource Management • Media Assessment Management (MAM) • Multimedia File Exchanging Management • Video-and-audio-based Business Operation • Resource Management and Planning • Sales and Customers Relationship Management • Purchasing and Producing MERP represents a total solution for the management of the whole media industry since the development of an MERP system is a large-scale system engineering project. As the media industry evolves and broadly adopts MERP, development of independent applications will still exist. But the development of such kinds of application systems should base on standardized architecture, and pursue tighter system planning, analysis and design, so that these independently developed applications could become the functional subsystems of the integrated MERP system in the future. Consistency of information description and the interoperability of subsystems and modules is paramount to integration at a high level can be realized.
Conclusions
It is known that the introduction of a well implemented ERP system brings considerable benefit to many industries. There is no doubt the advanced concept of MERP has and will continue to bring improvements within the entire flow of the media enterprise management. The concept of MERP is changing the media industry as it embraces the digital age, it will improve efficiency, performance, and quality of service, forecasting and planning, and all the rest of features necessary in this highly competitive market place. Adopting the MERP approach is surely a big compromise since it involves all actual operations of the company, but it will make you take your first steps to a competitive edge and thus achieve a distinct advantage over any competitor.