McCann is the charter client for an alliance of IBM and AdWare Systems, which are targeting global marketing communications companies with a package of tech products and services.
IBM and AdWare will announce the McCann venture this week, but they already are pursuing deals with other major agencies, including IBM shop Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.
Within five years, AdWare President Don Fitzpatrick said, IBM and AdWare anticipate revenues of $500 million to $1 billion annually from providing services and products to marketing communications companies.
IDC/Link, a tech market researcher, estimates the current market for ad agency technology at $4 billion to $5 billion a year.
AdWare, a developer of ad management software, is starting with a close relation: McCann and AdWare both are owned by Interpublic Group of Cos.
WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
The IBM/AdWare contract with McCann is expected to run in the tens of millions of dollars.
McCann isn't alone in building a new global agency network. Euro RSCG, for example, is developing one with urging from client Intel Corp. (AA, June 16).
McCann over the past 10 years has nearly doubled its geographic presence to 117 countries, leaving it with as many as 70 separate computer systems that the agency now wants to mesh into a single system.
McCann Exec VP Art Tauder said the agency's expansion into other areas, such as new media, heightens the need for an agencywide system.
But McCann also is responding to client demands. As marketers manage more brands globally, Mr. Tauder said, they expect agencies to have global data available immediately. He said clients also are pressing McCann on how it will deal with the arrival of the year 2000, which is wreaking havoc with computer systems that misinterpret '00 as the year 1900, and the arrival of Europe's new euro currency.
In addition, Messrs. Tauder and Fitzpatrick said new-business prospects increasingly ask about agencies' computer systems during reviews.
Over the next three to five years, McCann expects to "outsource" most of its computer operations, an increasingly common practice at companies outside the ad agency business. As envisioned, IBM will own and, with AdWare, manage the bulk of McCann's hardware, software and computer networks, including about 10,000 PCs.
IBM and AdWare are supplying McCann with a custom version of SAP AG's R/3 business management software, giving the agency the same basic SAP software used by McCann clients General Motors Corp., Coca-Cola Co., Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever. McCann also will digitally archive print ads, TV spots and other material.
NOT A MONEY SAVER
Mr. Tauder said McCann's shift to outsourcing computers won't save money, but he added the new global system over time should mean better service for clients and better, newer technology for staffers.
Doug Dreyer, the IBM business unit executive responsible for advertising and publishing markets, said IBM and AdWare will manage McCann's existing computers and gradually upgrade with equipment from IBM and other companies as needed.
McCann already mainly uses Windows PCs, and Mr. Fitzpatrick expects most of the Apple Macintoshes in the creative department to be replaced by Windows within