Lonely Planet to shift off SAP, Salesforce

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Lonely Planet to shift off SAP, Salesforce

Consolidates IT systems.

Travel publisher Lonely Planet is about to begin shifting away from SAP R/3 and Salesforce as part of a broader initiative that is driving the company towards a more "nimble, simplified" IT operating model.

Chief technology officer Gus Balbontin said the publisher would begin planning the transition off SAP and Salesforce "next week or the week after", and expects to wrap up the rollout of a replacement platform — NetSuite's hosted OneWorld suite — in July 2014.

The finer details of the migration — such as how it is to be staged — are yet to be determined. 

"We haven't yet decided exactly how we're going to do it, but the idea is to do the bandaid approach [rip-and-replace] as quickly as we can," Balbontin said.

"Ideally we want to get through the whole thing relatively quickly."

Lonely Planet currently hosts its own instances of SAP enterprise resource planning — using R/3 version 4.7 — for its various worldwide operations, including for back-up and disaster recovery.

Balbontin indicated he was not particularly attached to having equipment and systems housed internally, and that Lonely Planet had a strategy to "release ourselves from physical dependencies and infrastructure" - which he said was costly "not necessarily in dollars but in effort, time and mindset".

"Every time you need to move an office or every time someone needs to go to work from an other place, it's always painful," he said.

Balbontin said he was more interested in "the outcome, not the means".

The replacement of SAP and Salesforce instances is the tip of the iceberg in a sweeping consolidation of systems currently underway.

While Lonely Planet's technology stack was already "fairly consolidated", there was room for further consolidation, Balbontin said.

"We're consolidating a bunch of ordering systems too, and even payroll systems," he told iTnews. "At the moment we're doing the due diligence to consider moving to Google Apps as well, so we'll be moving away from Exchange."

Balbontin also said the company is looking to reinvent its e-commerce strategy, and is exploring what role NetSuite hosted software might play in that reinvention.

Lonely Planet is under new ownership after being sold by the commercial arm of the BBC in March this year.

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