When choosing a vendor to work with, take the time to really establish if they fit your business, says Brett Hobbs, group information technology manager at BCS Group.
“This is a really strong [point] for me,” Hobbs says. “I would encourage sitting down with the provider to find out what their vision is; how flexible they are; what drives them to go to work in the morning; and why they deserve your business – to make sure it aligns with your culture.”
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, he says. “No one is above reproach.”
Auckland-based BCS is a global company with over 30 offices and 350 staff. The automation company provides baggage handling systems for airports and sortation systems for freight companies. It does engineering, manufacturing and software development in-house and provides 24-hour support to customers worldwide.
BCS has a global employee strategy, which means any employee can work from any office – company offices, a customer’s office or their own home, says Hobbs.
“They can work on any project, whether in their own country or another country. And they can work for any department.”
This culture of global communication and collaboration posed some challenges for IT. BCS had a traditional WAN throughout its offices that was “very expensive to set up, very expensive to maintain and extremely inflexible”, says Hobbs.
It simply didn’t fit the needs of the business anymore. The company started vendor discussions, which meant sitting down with senior level executives from those companies to find the right partner. BCS chose California-based network provider Aerohive for the job of setting up a wired and wireless network that would be able to scale with company growth, he says.
“On the first day [Aerohive] took us through the product. The second day they started the rollout. Two days later the new system was fully up and running across all offices.”
Three years ago, BCS embarked on a cloud initiative, but struggled to find anyone other than Amazon that had the innovation and capability required, Hobbs says. But it didn’t suit the company to use a cloud provider on the other side of the world. So, BCS made the decision to be its own cloud provider, as long as it’s more cost-effective for the company to own it rather than outsource, Hobbs says. BCS has three datacentres in the Asia-Pacific region.
Today, the company’s internal cloud delivers a platform for testing, virtual commissioning, company IT services and delivering SaaS to customers, he said. The strategy is to offer “anything and everything that we do” to customers on demand, he said.
“We are now starting to look at offering mechanical systems, such as a robotic arm, as a service.”