Metro Modernization

Sony Group Corporation (SGC) won Global Finance’s Best Company in the World for Foreign Exchange Management award for the successful implementation of its Metro global treasury management system, which supports all SGC business segments—except financial services—worldwide.

With the help of treasury, risk and finance consultancy firm Zanders, SGC selected and began deployment of the SAP S/4HANA treasury system in May 2018. The company, with continued aid from Zanders, completed the Metro project by 2020, a span which included working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By standardizing treasury operations across all the treasury centers in Japan, the US, the UK and Singapore under Metro, it became more effective and efficient for each treasury center to provide financial supports and treasury services to the diverse businesses of the Sony Group with clear visibility in real time,” says Hiroyuki Ishiguro, general manager of Sony Group Corporation HQ Finance.

The diverse business segments housed under SGC consist of Game & Network Services, Music, Pictures and Electronics Products & Solutions and Imaging & Sensing Solutions.

Technology has always been a critical driver of the Japanese multinational conglomerate’s success, from the launch of its iconic Sony Walkman portable cassette player—which sold over 400 million units in the 40-plus years since its 1979 launch—to the innovative televisions, games consoles, digital cameras, phones and headphones that Sony makes today.

Ishiguro says SGC has improved FX operations with cutting-edge technologies in foreign exchange management.

“FX hedging operations are automated on the end-to-end processes, from the Sony Group companies to the partner banks,” he says. “With our group companies, it became much faster and more transparent because FX hedging requests can be executed with  the FX market almost immediately, and the FX hedging results can be shown clearly and settled with the treasury center on the in-house-bank function of Metro system.”

With FX-trading banks, SGC FX dealers can execute FX deals in a few minutes on the new platform, Ishiguro says. “Our back office can complete FX confirmation matching with the banks automatically within 20 minutes, whereas it took a few days in the past.”

Today, all the corporation’s treasury centers can view and monitor the treasury activities in each region on a real-time basis. “That gives greater transparency and accuracy to support the Sony Group’s global businesses,” he adds.

Because this was a truly global project for the Sony Group, Ishiguro says the value of close collaboration was the most important lesson learned from delivering a global treasury digital transformation project.

“We decided to involve key treasury members from all the regions,” he says. “Treasury teams are mainly located in Japan, the US, the UK and Singapore. As a result, the members of various nationalities have established a truly global project formation with a sense of diversity. All the project members worked together under the leadership of Sony Group Corp., HQ Finance and treasury section,  and collaborated with our IT teams, external consultants, all the partner banks, etc. Thanks to the close collaborations in the global project formation, we have completed the project successfully.”

 SGC  learned the importance of empowering younger generations across project activities. “It is very important to actively promote young and mid-career employees by providing a lot of opportunities for good experiences and good ‘learning’ through direct and active participation in the project tasks,” says Ishiguro. “With this, digital transformation becomes a true success because the younger generations will be able to lead and promote the next digital transformation in the finance and treasury fields for the Sony Group going forward.”

Other vital takeaways from the two-and-a-half-year project, according to Ishiguro, include selecting the best treasury management platform and consultancy partner, proactively adopting new technologies to develop internal skill sets further, collaborating well with external partners and utilizing the proper tools to ensure good communication with all who are involved with the project.