25 Q&As: Someone out there cares

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Christine Brand, IT manager, Britax ChildCare, Sunshine, Victoria, shares her experiences with Lauren Thomen-Moore.

Q: How should Britax’ key technologies develop in relation to your business needs?

I’d like to see EDI capabilities fully on to the Internet, more wireless devices, the integration of technologies — into ‘can do anything’ devices, and self-diagnostic machines with automatic redundancy.

Q: How would such changes benefit your organisation?

Hardware maintenance is now a big spend, so using multifunction devices would mean fewer devices to buy and maintain. Also, our cabling costs (including the ongoing changes) would become obsolete with wireless devices. However, I’m sure that wireless devices would bring other management problems such as having to manage the security software. Self-diagnostic devices would save us taking a drive out to the manufacturing plant just because someone has pulled out a plug. With “smart” redundancy, a system could make the necessary decisions and advise the administrator. EDI capabilities on the ‘Net would be great because running the supply chain through value added networks (VANs) can be very expensive.

Q: What have the vendors promised in some of these areas?

EDI on the Internet is available, but not necessarily of required capability. Integration is a real issue, while tools are available, they can be a bit pricey for a medium sized company. We need to do a current costs analysis and compare that to long-term costs that associated with integrated solutions. In terms of wireless and mobile access, our infrastructure couldn’t cope at present and the upgrade costs are prohibitive.

Q: Do you think vendors will deliver on your wishlist?

Most vendors are aiming at even higher goals. There are a great deal of devices out there that we can’t use due to the fact that our backbone communications infrastructure is not capable of delivering. Many things are possible now — if we had the peripheral technology to run them, and the money.

Fast facts: Annual turnover: $30 million to 40 million. Employees: 150. IT users: 50. IT budget: $500,000 to $999,000. Key applications: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Project); MfgPro (ERP System; CAD — Pro Engineer; Lotus Notes; Reporting Tools — Cyberquery and Corvu and Zekana; Citrix Client server. Key infrastructure — hardware: IBM servers, desktops, thin clients and laptops; networking: 3 Com, Cisco; operating systems: Windows NT and 2000

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