Ogilvy Keynoter Cites Human Challenge

People are a bigger hassle than technology in major projects, warns Ogilvy & Mather CTO

October 27, 2005

3 Min Read
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Storage Networking World -- People, not technology, present the biggest challenge when rolling out major storage projects, warned Yuri Aguiar, chief technology officer of advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather, during his keynote speech here today.

People affect change more than technology does,” Aguiar said, highlighting the pressure of rolling out projects across Ogilvy’s diverse IT infrastructure. The advertising firm has offices in 497 locations around the world and handles ads in 50 different languages for 2,700 clients, which include IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Unilever.

Once upon a time, the advertising business required a continuous trafficking in physical photonegatives and other ad production materials. Now, it's all electronic: “One of the biggest issues we face is storage and moving all these digital assets around the globe at high speed and accurately,” said Aguiar. “If there’s a shade of green that’s used by a certain client in New York, it better be the same shade in Brazil.”

In 1999, Ogilvy set up what Aguiar calls a Secure File Transfer Project, specifically to address the issue of how best to coordinate the flow of data worldwide. But with other initiatives also underway, the scheme was never high priority. The result: confusion.

”What happened was that, as in any organization, silos and byproducts were being put into offices around the globe to address the issue. We were not getting the standards we wanted, and some clients were starting to scream.”So in 2003 Aguiar and his team turned their attentions to standardizing file sharing companywide. “I was traveling through Asia, and I heard from one of our production managers there that we were missing deadlines and losing revenue because of this. So we decided to make it mainstream.”

The actual technology, according to the CTO, was fairly simple, with Ogilvy using an open Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and a series of peering points to share files. But the people issues at six pilot sites spread across three continents made adoption a challenge.

Among the hurdles faced were time differences, regional data privacy laws, and a plethora of standing systems. “We had to reduce about 60 solutions around the world to one,” said the CTO this morning.

Aguiar had to rely on all his political skills to get user buy-in for the new LDAP system, taking 40 trips in two years to make it a reality. “We took ideas from everybody. We didn’t wait for consensus -- sometimes it’s better to go with 'the majority wins.' ” This, he adds, is preferable to the “paralysis of analysis.”

To help things along, Aguiar helped launch a series of regional locations to handle the coordination and education effort. These were dubbed “centers of excellence." “Everyone in Europe turns to London and Frankfurt for help, and everyone in Asia turns to Singapore and Hong Kong."With the network now up and running, Aguiar says he's learned a few things. Having made a major shift with lots of effort, his eye is always open for IT professionals who can meet this type of challenge. ”One of the big things we look for in people when we hire them is how well they adapt to change,” he said.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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