“I really value the ability of CodeBlue to work with me – in partnership – rather than just being technology hands and feet. CodeBlue shares our business vision, challenges me when they think I’m wrong, and helps me make the strategic technology decisions to ensure our IT infrastructure keeps pace withour growth into the future.”
Ross Vincent, Director of Special Projects, Retail Dimension
Technology Roadmap drives IT strategy as Retail Dimension manages explosive growth
Over the past eight years Retail Dimension’s annual revenue has grown tenfold – with a similar increase in growth forecast over the next five years.
The company – known as RD – has become a major force in high-end retail fit-outs, with large customers including Westpac, BP and Lotto. Around 150 staff work from locations in Auckland, Melbourne and Hong Kong. Designers use the latest VR workstations to give clients 3D walkthroughs of each project, then output the approved designs to CNC manufacturing systems, managing each step in the process from design to finished project. RD has a significant Auckland based manufacturing facility, supported by outsourcing through a strong management model, including local partners and manufacturing in China or wherever in the world the best quality can be achieved for the best price.
“The technology road-map is constantly keyed on tracking where we are going to be in two years and four years,’ Ross Vincent says. “Sure we need to have an IT infrastructure that works right now, but what I’m really focused on is avoiding problems in the future.”
RD’s director of special projects, Ross Vincent, owned his own IT managed services company before taking up a COO role at RD in 2017. Among his first challenges was to stabilize and rationalize an IT infrastructure that was no longer fit for purpose.
“Growing revenue from single digit millions to double digits in just eight years has to equate to some pain,” he says. “We got away with it at first but cracks become chasms. We had to jump from small business IT thinking to an Enterprise model appropriate for a large business. Most important, we had to look ahead and be much more strategic in our thinking.”
Working with CodeBlue North Shore branch manager Ross Fisher, RD began to implement immediate tactical IT decisions in the context of a long term IT Technology Roadmap, designed to evolve the company’s IT infrastructure in pace with forecast growth.
A close partnership that’s continuously developed
A managed services contract with CodeBlue takes care of day to day proactive IT infrastructure support. This includes service desk and cyber security with full disaster recovery with an in house backup server mirrored in the cloud. A number of strategic decisions are having a major impact on how the infrastructure is configured and evolved. A key decision was to move away from an expensive hybrid cloud to a full in house server strategy. CodeBlue’s disaster recovery service mirrors the in-house backup server.
Another key decision was to standardize on HP desktops, laptops, docking stations and servers. “I am a big fan of device standardization,” Ross Vincent says. “We selected HP for a number of reasons. It’s an advantage that HP can offer both desktops and laptops to suit our various categories of users. About half of our fleet of 100 desktops are laptops so HPs docking stations are great, particularly with staff moving between our four offices.
Whichever office they are in, they can plug in to a docking station and be immediately ready to work. HP spans the full range of devices we need from entry level PCs and laptops right up to high-end servers. HP also has probably the best device security on the market. This is very important, particularly as we grow our offshore offices. HP has cutting-edge endpoint security features, including multi-factor authentication and easy re imaging if laptops are lost or stolen. ‘All of these advantages play well with our strategy of replacing desktops every four years, with 25 percent of the fleet being replaced each year. Individual users know they’ll have a new system every four years, but I have the flexibility each year to ensure that people that need the latest devices get them as required.
“On this IT journey I really value the ability of CodeBlue to work with me – in partnership, rather than just being technology hands and feet. CodeBlue shares our business vision, challenges me when they think I’m wrong, and helps me make the strategic technology decisions to ensure our IT infrastructure keeps pace with our growth into the future”
A Technology Roadmap that creates strategic awareness
“A key part of our Technology Roadmap is the strategic awareness of what we are as a business and how we are likely to evolve,” Vincent says. ‘Fundamentally, we are not a commercial retail fit out company. Rather, we are an industrial design-driven project delivery company. We do not sell what we make. We only make what we have already sold. While that sounds ideal, the reality is that we’re always under the pump. The open date for each retail fit out is already set in concrete when each project gets underway. We’re always running and pushing. “In five years’ time it is entirely possible that retail fit out projects will only be part of our business. In that knowledge we absolutely need a highly secure, high performing and highly flexible IT infrastructure.
Working with CodeBlue we’ve made great progress towards that goal. “On this IT journey I really value the ability of CodeBlue to work with me – in partnership, rather than just being technology hands and feet. CodeBlue shares our business vision, challenges me when they think I’m wrong, and helps me make the strategic technology decisions to ensure our IT infrastructure keeps pace with our growth into the future,” Ross Vincent said.