In the unlikely event you have no idea who Next are, they're a UK retailer with over 650 stores, 55,000 employees, a turnover of £3.4bn and gross profit of £1bn.
Next are renowned for developing all their IT requirements in-house, and already had systems in place which overlapped with some of the functionality of the Matrix CMS, so it's no small feat to have gained them as a client.
Matrix CMS is being used to store and manage all the images and text that go into the Next Directory and subsequently onto their website, however the storage of information is only a small part of what the system is providing. There are two large sites involved in catalogue production, split between Leicester and Central London, a photography studio in North London, 3 reprographic houses in Bradford, Southend and Manchester and most of their designers are external contractors who work all over the UK. With this situation, the problems of job tracking and project management come to the fore. To tackle some of these issues we developed a completely new page viewing system which allows the live checking and analysis of production, coupled with automatic messaging of key personnel in the workflow chain. This provides each user with a work-list of what they need to action and more importantly a management overview coupled to reporting of what is actually taking place in real-time.
In the end it wasn't the number of people but the geography which provided the biggest challenge. With some designers working on just 2Mb ADSL connections and with massive InDesign and image files flying about, having a quick, flexible way of accessing the system became paramount. We already had the basis of a solution with our AJAX based browser interface, but this was further enhanced, so that virtually all core functionality was accessible through a browser. Most importantly we created a plug-in that works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox which allows the browser to control and manipulate InDesign. This provided all the same page creation functionality of the client software.
Overall the system has been a great success with ever increasing numbers of users, pages and assets being added every week. Next are the biggest and most prestigious client Matrix currently have.