Premier 100 IT Leader: Lincoln Wallen

The move to digital movie distribution improves both efficiency and quality

Movie studio DreamWorks Animation is in the business of fantasy. And CTO Lincoln Wallen is responsible for making sure that the team has the tools needed to turn fantasy into reality.

Lincoln Wallen

Wallen, 52, joined DreamWorks in 2008 after five years at video game developers Criterion and Electronic Arts. At DreamWorks, he has overseen the move to digital distribution not only to consumers, but also within the Glendale, Calif., studio itself, which produces films at multiple sites. The company has become a model of efficiency, thanks to Wallen's ability to reach across the aisle to the production team.

"When you're driving for efficiency, it has these downstream implications that make people nervous," says Wallen. "Building those partnerships with the production side of the business is the payoff of technological change."

Kate Swanborg, head of enterprise marketing, wasn't surprised when her former peer became CTO in October. "He has such fantastic aspirational goals to take us the next step, to really highlight and leverage the technological [intellectual property] here at DreamWorks to new businesses," she says.

That strategy will be key to the studio's future. Processes that it has developed to manage vast amounts of data -- a single movie, such as the recent Rise of the Guardians, can consist of half a billion digital files -- could benefit other areas of the business.

"We don't think of it as an improvement in efficiency," says Wallen. "Let's talk about it as an improvement in capability: Half of that goes on the bottom line, half of it goes on the screen."

Gagné is a former Computerworld online editor.

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