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Microsoft, Ascent Form Strategic Alliance to Build New Solutions to Serve Entertainment Industry Transition to Digital Supply Chain


Microsoft Dynamics AX-based solution to manage entire digital supply chain; Ascent to offer formatting, distribution and other services to media companies.

REDMOND, Wash., and SANTA MONICA, Calif. — April 2008 — This week at the NAB Show 2008, Microsoft Corp. and Ascent Media Group announced a new strategic alliance that will result in new solutions that will automate and streamline the supply chain for the media and entertainment industry and help them transition the digital age.

As part of the alliance, Microsoft will work with partners to create a new solution that Ascent Media Group will use to manage its business processes as well as offer new services to media and entertainment companies. Composed of new media and entertainment functionality built on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform, the new solution will integrate and streamline media production processes. Ascent will offer a hosted version of this solution along with integrated managed services to film studios, broadcasters, global media enterprises and advertising agencies, all of which are demanding capabilities that allow the immediate distribution of digital content to outlets around the world.

The new Microsoft Dynamics AX functions are tailored to address typical business processes in media and entertainment organizations including work order management, library management, resource scheduling, element tracking, digital ordering and distribution, among others. Ascent Media Group is uniquely positioned to be the preferred digital supply chain provider for Microsoft solutions for media companies, with its expertise in asset management, metadata tracking, billing and notifications and strong media industry relationships.

“The transformation to an all-digital world has completely redefined how the media industry creates, manages and delivers rich media content,” said Martha Béjar, corporate vice president for the Communications Sector at Microsoft. “However, the business processes that support the entire digital value chain have not necessarily kept pace, and currently hinder the effective monetization of that content. The partnership we have forged with Ascent draws on our companies’ respective strengths and expertise, and will result in new business management solutions and services that address the specific requirements of the media and entertainment industry.”

“The delivery of media over a wide range of devices has added tremendous complexity to the digital workflow process,” said Jose Royo, CEO of Ascent Media Group. “That complexity has given us an opportunity to develop new services that help alleviate the pains being felt by our customers. Our strategic alliance with Microsoft not only delivers a new business system backbone that will help streamline our own production workflows and order management, but also allows us to create additional revenue streams through new service offerings.”

Ascent Media Group selected Microsoft global services integrator partner, Avanade Inc., to implement the industry solution based on Microsoft Dynamics AX. At the heart of the solution is a production scheduling tool that will interact seamlessly with Ascent’s existing digital and physical asset management systems and general business systems such as inventory control, order management and general ledger, among others.

“Avanade’s partnership with Microsoft and Ascent offers media companies an opportunity to better monetize content and simplify the digital workflow process,” said Mike Pazak, vice president of Enterprise Business Solutions at Avanade. “We’re pleased to be part of this collaborative effort, enabling companies to adapt to emerging business models in a continuously changing industry.”

By more closely connecting the digital workflow process and business systems, the new solution will provide flexibility, scalability and efficiencies that reduce production time and costs, increase production volume, and enhance strategic business decision-making abilities through greater accuracy in business information and reporting.

The solution will also give Ascent a platform to grow its business without costly and disruptive IT system upgrades. The new implementation will complement and integrate with existing Microsoft solutions deployed at Ascent, including Microsoft Office Project Server, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and a service-oriented architecture based on BizTalk Server.


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