Entering the second phase of its so-called “3.0” initiative to transform the modern media services agency model via technology and innovative information management, Interpublic’s UM unit is banking on a new proprietary network for collaborating and sharing information and insights worldwide. The new system, aptly named the Knowledge Bank, is built on top of Microsoft’s SharePoint platform, which ensures it works seamlessly with all of Microsoft’s Office suite, including programs like Excel, Word and Powerpoint, which are still major tools in media planning and buying.
Microsoft also happens to be a major UM client, but that was not the primary reason the agency opted to use SharePoint to develop its new Knowledge Bank. It was the flexibility and integration of the software that was the primary factor, says Kristi Argyilan, Chief Transformation Officer at UM.
“The idea for Knowledge Bank came from this observation we had in terms of the way people were accessing information from each other and sharing it,” she explains, noting, “The super, old-school way, for example, was that whenever you had a project gearing up, it usually started with an all-office email going out and asking who had any ideas for it. And we thought, ‘There just has to be an easier way for people to share information.’”
Argyilan said UM explored building the Knowledge Bank on top of a wiki platform or via a “shared” computer drive, but said those options were quickly rejected, because they tend to end up becoming “dumping grounds that aren’t useful, and always ended up reverting back to the “company-wide emails.”
The most important factor Argyilan says, was finding a platform the enabled groups, teams and individuals to “curate” information in a way that is relevant to specific projects, not just “dump it.”
She says the Knowledge Bank is being deployed throughout North America now, and would be rolled out into UM’s English-speaking markets first. She says language is still an issue UM is trying to crack, and that the agency is testing various translation programs to see if technology might also be a solution for exchanging, sharing and collaborating via multilingual information.
UM’s Knowledge Bank is the second major intranet-based information-sharing program launched recently by an Interpublic media unit. UM parent Mediabrands recently opened the IPG Lab, including a “virtual lab” that serves as a global information network testing, vetting and sharing developments and insights about cutting edge, and next-generation media technologies and platforms.