01 Sep 2011
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Building a partnership

Back in 2007 Canon New Zealand ran an IT infrastructure typical of many mid-sized companies. An internal IT team of eight staff, supplemented by external contractors, managed a desktop and server network, with 300 desktop users at branches around the country. A mix of Microsoft applications were augmented by custom built customer service and financial management applications.Canon New Zealand’s country manager, Mike Johnston, says costs were relatively high, not just in managing the existing hardware and software infrastructure, but particularly in managing the implementation of new software and related hardware as the business needs changed.Internal staff lacked depth of specialist skills, there were variable service levels from external contractors, and there was an IP retention risk, with reliance on a few key individuals with IP around Canon’s key systems and applications.Canon was dissatisfied with service levels and dissatisfied with its ability to quickly change its IT infrastructure to meet changing business needs. In short Canon was looking for more value, more security, more flexibility and more speed from its IT investment.Choosing a partnerThe solution became to implement an outsourced Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform, which allows the IT department to respond to business needs more quickly, in a cost effective manner.Johnston describes their new system as flexible, agile and resilient, and says Canon New Zealand today has more reliable systems with few incidents. Operational costs are lower with change projects delivering better business value, through the chosen infrastructure contract with their provider, Datacom.With core systems ‘re-architected’ and hosted at Datacom’s Orbit data centre, there is higher system resilience and security. With no day-to-day IT operational issues, Canon has been able to work closely with their outsourcing provider to achieve a much more strategic approach to IT."Back in 2008 we hadn’t done any outsourcing whatsoever,” Johnston recalls. "It was a new concept for us. We started with desktop support and server support and extended it to firewalls.”As trust was built up between supplier and client, all Canon’s servers were eventually moved to the Orbit data centre."We don’t have to own our own infrastructure, and we can crank it up or down according to our business needs at any time. We have achieved significant cost improvement, but we’ve also achieved a remarkable improvement in our service levels,” Johnston says.Call centre improvementsA major part of the value add from the outsourcing contract has been the outsourcing of Canon customer contact centres across New Zealand and Australia."Call centres in both New Zealand and Australia were reducing in size with the advances in technology. We took the step to bring our call centres together because we could trust our provider to deliver the quality of service our customers expect."We wanted a partner who could provide contact centre experience, flexibility and accountability to improve both customer satisfaction and staff morale, while reducing contact centre infrastructure and maintenance costs.”The choice of provider, Johnston says, was made for reasons including the provision of a cost effective service and their proven track record in this type of contact centre and business process activity.The new contact centre was established from the ground up within 11 weeks. This required the fit out of a new contact centre along with the recruitment of 90 staff.Today, Datacom is responsible for the customer care service to Canon’s Australian and New Zealand customers, supporting over 750,000 calls and 65,000 emails per year. Canon’s telephone receptionist services are also based out of Datacom’s Auckland contact centre for all Canon’s Australasian offices."What I like about our arrangement is that in addition to being a local company, our provider has the breadth of services we need to take care of virtually all our IT requirements – from a fully outsourced IT infrastructure to running our call centre across Australia and New Zealand,” Johnston says.As an important reason why the two companies have forged such a strong and successful relationship, Johnston cites company culture."Canon’s philosophy is summed up by the [Japanese] word ‘Kyosei’ – living and working together for the common good. We aim to make a positive difference to all we come into contact with and, through our behaviour, contribute to positive change. I think both companies, both cultures, share the values and behaviours of Kyosei.” 

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