WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

Tony Kontzer, Freelance Journalist | 8/16/2013 | 34 comments

Tony Kontzer
Add Boston public broadcasting powerhouse WGBH to the growing list of companies that are discovering the benefits of cloud computing.

Like many organizations, WGBH, which produces 30 percent of PBS's prime-time television content, has long relied on traditional ERP, HR, and financial systems that require users to log onto a VPN to access clumsy interfaces. Also, like many organizations, WGBH has never been able to get broad adoption of these systems from the employee ranks, instead relying on a small number of gatekeepers to generate reports and give management data it could use.

Then, about four years ago, CFO Vinay Mehra said enough is enough.

"I needed to deal with the adoption issue," Mehra said during a phone interview. "My people are creative people who want to deal with systems that are intuitive."

He wanted systems that would be used by the bulk of WGBH's 1,200 employees, most of whom were increasingly working away from their desks and wanted to access their applications of choice via mobile devices. He was convinced that by spurring wider adoption of systems and applications, WGBH would drive significant additional value from the data it's increasingly collecting.

Rather than do something drastic, Mehra opted to test a few software-as-a-service applications for specific, user-facing processes like expense reporting and timesheet management. As he suspected, the convenient access and ease of use of tools like Concur and Replicon spurred a healthy increase in adoption over WGBH's legacy alternatives.

That said, WGBH tried other SaaS apps that didn't work out so well. In those cases, said Mehra, "I was unable to drive adoption because the user interface [stunk]."

Those first experiences with SaaS solidified Mehra's sense that convenient access and usability were the key attributes of a cloud-based app that would actually take hold within an organization. Mehra said he was struck by the fact that so many software vendors seem to think that only half of that -- making existing applications more convenient and accessible -- is enough. He said that ERP vendors are especially guilty of taking their old code bases and making them cloud-friendly, an approach that's devoid of innovation.

"They forget that the experience is the most important thing," said Mehra.

Having zeroed in on what he believed would make a cloud-based system a good investment, and with the success of the earlier Concur and Replicon implementations, Mehra set out a couple of years later to up the ante by finding a cloud-based platform that would serve broader enterprise needs. Eventually, he settled on Workday's entire suite of business management SaaS applications, which WGBH started deploying earlier this year.

The new environment will be rolled out to no fewer than 800 employees by Jan. 1, Mehra said, and once live, it will replace Concur and Replicon and a number of legacy systems to become the center of employees' daily work experience. Mehra said he's looking forward to seeing how the widespread adoption of Workday affects the business.

"What I don't know is, when I do put the power of data in the hands of the employees, what is the bottom line impact I will see?" he asked. "Will I see more financial efficiency? Will they ask more questions? Will they do more data analysis?"

Regardless of what happens, such bold moves are increasingly necessary for media companies like WGBH, which in the past had to worry only about TV and DVDs. Today, WGBH distributes its content through a much wider array of channels, from web sites and social networks to streaming services and mobile applications.

"Most innovative media companies are flexing with the changes in content consumption," said Mehra. "Most of us are reinventing ourselves."

Isn't that what cloud computing, at its essence, is all about?

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tjgkg   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/4/2013 5:29:32 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption
@eethtworkz: Ah if we only listened to our parents when we were young! I didn't either. Remember kids know it all! But yes power brings money which brings corruption.
eethtworkz   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/3/2013 11:41:57 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

A longtime back when I was an Idealistic Fool;My Dad used to tell me that there is Corruption all over the World(and I never believed him);Now that I have seen a Great deal of the World I know his Massive-Massive Words of Wisdom are so True.

Wherever there is Power and Money Involved there will be Corruption.

Its a Given.
tjgkg   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/3/2013 5:21:29 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption
@eethtworkz: And dont forget Maxine Waters' and her husband who magically avoided indictment. Congress is loaded with these types.
eethtworkz   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/2/2013 12:14:54 PM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

Limo Liberals???

The person who fits the most is Sitting in Congress-Nancy Pelosi!!!

Have you seen how much she has benefitted Financially by being a Member of Congress?


She claims its because of the "Hard-work" of her Husband but if you look at all the Deals hes made;its clear he had Insider Information in advance.

tjgkg   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/2/2013 6:14:25 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption
@eethtworkz: Asymmetric warfare has been around for a long time. The NY Times just felt it with their servers being hacked. I think China also hacked thme sometime back.

A lot of people don't like Apple's attitude. I think a lot of that will change now that Jobs is no longer on the job and his supplicants are leaving Apple.

There was an interesting article in yesterday's NY Times buisness section about the hypocracy of Silicon Valley. How they went from being socially concious to limosine liberals. I thought that a bit rich coming from the NYT but who knows, it could have been written by the Syrians!
eethtworkz   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/1/2013 12:25:25 PM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

This is everything to do with what they Technically call as -Assymetric Warfare.

Smaller Nations are able to coordinate and focus on Targets much easier than larger nations here.

Frankly I don't really like Apple's attitude .

Anyways while we are looking at Mobile OSes now;Have you seen this Blogpost?


I highly recommend you download and read the Whole report-Lot of fascinating data there(especially which companies deliver terrible Service and Security on the Apps front today).

tjgkg   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   9/1/2013 8:29:46 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption
@eethtworkz: When you are dealing with the government and spying, there is always smoke and mirrors. You are right to consider the Iranians could be behind the hacking attacks attributed to the SEA. It seems we are back to the proxy wars again. Only this time it is with the Iranians instead of the USSR. I thought we had "crippling" sanctions against them. Doesn't seem to be working.


The inability to remove the battery on the iPhone I don't believe is sinister. All the Apple i devices are like that whether they are connected to the cell system or internet or nothing. That was part of the stubborness of Jobs.
eethtworkz   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   8/31/2013 10:58:59 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

I have been doing some thinking/Research on this very issue today.

It seems like the NSA can turn the Microphone on a phone On even if Phone is switched off(as long as Battery is loaded in the Cellphone);if the Battery is'nt there then They Can't Turn any part of the Device On[Is'nt that why the Folks at Cupertino made it so hard to remove The Battery from the iPhone????].

Even Google does'nt do such Sleazy stuff!

As far as Websites are concerned most Websites are simply outsourced to 3rd party Providers which May/May not put optimum resources behind the Site.

Since I have personally done a lot of work on Web Development Globally it never ceases to amaze me how little /non-existent the Resources Companies put into their Websites today and especially when they go with really pathetic Hosting Companies !!!!

One never really knows if its the Syrians or was it the Iranians(who are allied with the Syrians) who did this Hacking today.

As I said,there is a lot of Smoke and Mirrors involved here.

tjgkg   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   8/31/2013 8:37:43 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption
@eethtworkz: I don't know how Location Services function when the phone is off other than it might never really go off. And you might not really ever be able to turn LS off. And there might be other hidden software in all phones which nobody knows about which feed this information to Big Brother.

I'm not sure anyone's information is safe from hackers at this point. If the "Syrian Electronic Army" can hack the NYT and really cripple it, I can only imagine whatelse is out there. China is one thing, but Syria?
eethtworkz   WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption   8/30/2013 10:22:55 AM
Re: Re : WGBH Turns to Cloud to Spur End-User Adoption

Actually its a little too late for that.

NSA has the Technology to track a Cellphone EVEN IF The Cellphone is switched off.

No Idea how they do it(Possibly Triangulating Coordinates to determine last few Call locations made) ;it really does'nt matter what happens to the GPS on the phone.

Or maybe they have the Tech to turn on the GPS on a Phone even if its switched off?

What I do is they have the Tech in place today.

Some very fascinating developments on the Little Data front here


I have a feeling this is how we will have to protect our Privacy now(in form of User IDs which have our distinct INformation Details).

Only question is what happens if that ID gets hacked/is under constant Big Brother Surveillance in the first place???

So 1984!!!
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