Guinness World Records has gone digital

Record Breakers was a staple of British children’s television in the 1970s, with Roy Castle presenting alongside the McWhirter twin brothers, Norris and Ross. In total the show ran for almost three decades, and was canceled only in 2001. The brothers established the Guinness Book of Records in 1955, known as Guinness World Records (GWR) since 2000.

Italian television is currently playing Lo Show dei Record, in collaboration with Guinness World Records, on Canale 5.

In between, the publishing company behind the reference book, which is still the UK’s top Christmas gift, has undergone a business transformation. This ranges from publishing a book every year to consulting and digital content businesses.

Andy Wood, director of finance at Guinness World Records, spoke to Computer Weekly recently at Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteConnect event about how the company is transforming its business using, in part, software-as-a-service (SaaS) enterprise resource planning (ERP), in its finance function.

Wood joined the company in 2014, from Sainsbury’s, where he was a financial analyst. He remembers getting his first edition of the Guinness Book of Records in 1995, remembering that it featured Welsh and Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs.

What does the popular reference book mean to be a consultancy and a creator of digital content? For one thing, it means more offices. Not just London and New York, but Beijing, Tokyo and Dubai. It is a small company, employing around 190 people worldwide.

Wood says the fundamental change the business is making isn’t so much about continuing to expand: “The publishing industry is going through tough times. [around 2000]. We can’t sell as much as we used to with the book, but it’s always kept well. So, it’s not a case of changing to survive, but the business will decline if we don’t diversify.

The company offers consultancy to brands trying to market themselves with a record. GWR helps them understand if what they think is a record is a record – if not, potential clients should go elsewhere; if yes, then their in-house creative agency will work with clients.

An example given by Wood is MasterCard’s campaign for the 2022 World Cup, in which Portuguese former footballer Luis Figo participated in a zero-gravity football game in an airplane – the highest football game ever. which slipped at an altitude of 20,230 ft. Another deal is with Jaguar, which made the biggest loop in the loop ever made in a commercial vehicle, in 2015.

Recently, a Portuguese dog called Bobi was recognized as not only the oldest living dog, but as the oldest dog ever. It’s unclear if that record involved a commercial deal, but it got a lot of media pick ups, showing the potential of the GWR brand.

The digital content side of the business is much newer than consultancy, and there are new developments there, says Wood: “There is digital content based on [Italian] The TV show, but we also have a large following on social media. So, we always increase the amount of content we produce to serve the audience. And then the next step in this journey is to launch our own production house called GWR Studios. We know how to create great content around records that grab people’s attention.

The shift to consultancy arose largely from the traditional organizational settlement process. The company employs adjudicators who travel to a record test to verify this. They wear special adjudicator suits and great care is taken to ensure that their identities remain occluded while traveling.

Where does NetSuite software fit into this record breaking? Wood says: “NetSuite was a good fit because we needed a significant system change. The system we used to use was built when we were a publishing company. All of a sudden, we went from selling to a couple of products a year to the same retailers every year in the same type of locations to a complex organization with new teams, new organizational structures, closing hundreds of deal a year with hundreds of different customers.

“We needed a system that was flexible. We found that as we were learning about this new part of our business, we had to look at it in different ways. And we didn’t have the flexibility to do that every time. opportunity. Our leadership team wants the P&L [profit and loss] to be structured somewhat differently. Whenever they come to us asking for that, it’s a huge undertaking. It took a month to convert 100 spreadsheets.

“Now NetSuite allows us to do that more easily. It’s more flexible, making changes to our account structure or business unit hierarchy. If there is a new business area, which introduces a new revenue stream, we can do that. “

Woods recalls that they also looked at SageIntacct and Financial Force, the latter of which seemed like a better fit because they were already a Salesforce customer, and FinancialForce was built on Salesforce’s software architecture.

“Financial Force is an interesting one because we already have Salesforce. And so the two systems are getting closer. But NetSuite is more specialized in the field of finance for our needs,” said Wood.

Celigo is the cloud integration platform-as-a-service NetSuite partner GWR is working with on the project, joining NetSuite to Salesforce in 2020. GWR is still a Salesforce customer for customer resource management (CRM) and salesforce automation .

The next stage of the company’s roadmap is to do more analytics on its data, but it’s still early days for that, Wood said.

“We use information from Salesforce for NetSuite, but most of our analysis and many of our views are built in Excel. It becomes more challenging, because we want to understand more about our business, and as the amount of data increases from all our different data sources, it becomes more challenging to do what you need in Excel and serve your stakeholders with the analysis and insight they need.”

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