“To continually improve is what drives us”
Interview with Marc Westphal, IT department manager
GVL has undergone a fundamental change during the past years: Today, IT systems are an integral part of the value creation and digital data processing is the core of the business model. We spoke with Marc Westphal, IT department manager, about this development.
The "digital transformation" characterised and redefined GVL throughout the past years. What did this change process look like at our end?
For a functioning digital transformation, it takes more than just new IT systems. It is rather about a changed way of working. For us as GVL this meant that we had to design efficient and well thought out processes, to develop sustainable data and organisational structures and construct an expandable technical infrastructure. Digital transformation is such a far-reaching process that it affects our entire corporate culture. Within just a few years, GVL has been transformed into a digital service provider in the neighbouring rights management sector.
Could you give us some specifics on the increased importance of the IT section within GVL?
The fact that GVL changed its focus on IT and data processing is particularly mirrored in our staff make-up: While only a small part of GVL staff was focussed on IT ten years ago, nearly half of the GVL employees now have their backgrounds in this sector. It is self-evident that this is leaving a mark on the entire corporate culture.
How has working for GVL therefore changed?
Our work is based on a concept which focusses on modern and sustainable IT solutions influenced by international standards and best practices. It envisages that our teams develop and optimise GVL services.
All of the complex and interdependent systems which we have must be maintained and developed further. We strive to be able to react swiftly to new developments and to keep the systems at an up-to-date technical level. Behind this is the principle of the continual improvement process (CIP). We use it as a basis for our work and it spurs us on.
Many people underestimate the data volume that GVL is processing nowadays. Could you give us a few examples?
We represent the global repertoire of more than 160,000 rights holders. As such, there is a huge volume of data behind each distribution. Each year, we process around 40 million broadcast minutes and the quality they reach us in varies greatly. On the performers’ side, we captured more than 20 million contribution notifications. Here, we see more than two million new notifications reach us every year. In our databases, we hold way more than 30 million sound recording productions, plus film and TV productions, music video clips and radio play productions.
All of this data reaches GVL by day and by night and must be processed for the distributions. While we needed about 30 TB of hard disk space in 2017, we required more than 400 TB at the beginning of 2021.
The rights holders hardly notice anything when it comes to these millions of datasets which are processed by GVL. Which improvements can rights holders perceive directly?
Rights holders can feel the impact of improvements of our IT systems particularly because distributions have been carried out on time since 2020. The portals are also optimised on a regular basis and enhanced with new features. Moreover, making the data available has become measurably faster due to the various automation processes. For many years, a major point of criticism has been the data quality which has been significantly improved, particularly with regards to the last few initial distributions.
What is the focus of GVL with regards to its systems over the coming years?
It is our objective to apply the now proven IT architecture and performance to all data connections and media types at national and international level. Another focus lies on the automated processing and matching of the usage data with GVL repertoire provided by the broadcasters. On top of that, some systems will be replaced by more efficient successors over the coming months. So, you can remain excited.