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How Unified Communications Is Helping Dr Martens’ Expansion

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Dr Martens says ShoreTel system is saving money and making communication easier

In 2008, Dr Martens was so strapped for cash that it couldn’t afford to update its aging telephony system.

Fast forward seven years and unified communications are not only saving the famous footwear company money, but helping to support a business undergoing rapid expansion now it’s in ruder financial health.

Nigel Harris, European network director, says his role encompasses just about everything that isn’t related to SQL development or mainframe. It involves WAN, LAN, back up devices, VMware and software.

He says the company’s current IT philosophy centres on the reduction of complexity and the flexibility to support changing demands as the firm continues to grow.

Financial constraints

Dr Martens“We are a highly expanding business. In 2008, we almost closed the doors because we were so financially strapped,”he explained. “We are now a £250 million turnover company with growth plans for £400 million within the next three to five years. So we needed a software and communications package that would support us not only today but was also futureproof.

“Before we started this project, we had a Nortel-BT system in our environment. It was inflexible and didn’t give us the ability to move as the business wanted. The reason we didn’t change it before is we weren’t financially able to. Dr Martens went through a rough period in 2008 so it was basically ‘keep it singing, keep it working,’ but don’t make any structural changes.”

Things changed in 2010 when the firm’s US phone system failed. ShoreTel’s platform was implemented on a small scale, but the benefits did not escape the attention of Dr Marten’s CIO, who gave the green light for the UK office to upgrade. Harris was given free reign to choose a unified communications platform and looked at Avaya and Cisco applications, but in the end opted for ShoreTel after discussion with his US colleagues.

Slashing costs

The transition has made it easier and quicker to contact anyone within the company, and the option to opt for the cheapest route possible has slashed international calls and roaming costs. The UK is linked with the US and there are plans to roll out the system to an office in Hong Kong to improve links with suppliers.

“The fact is that you’re able to contact an individual on their mobile in the same format as if they were at their desk,” said Harris. “If you’re able to dial a four digit number and get hold of anyone no matter where they are in the world, the solution is obvious.

“Every single individual within the US and UK is using this. We’re not talking a select few here. Every single person has a ShoreTel phone at their desk, including retail.

“Call costs are coming down dramatically. That’s why were keen to take this product to Asia. All of our manufacturing is in the Far East”

Enabling CYOD

Dr Martens does not have a BYOD policy and although it is “focused” on Android and Samsung, the presence of unified communications means it is confident about letting employees choose whatever they want.

“We’re not bureaucratic enough to say you must use this phone, we give people scope to be able to use what they’re most comfortable with. There are people out there with iPhones and you’ll generally find designers and senior executives with those.”

After a testing few years, Harris is confident about the future of the firm, which he believes has done especially well to achieve a growth rate of 12 percent given that its products serve a niche market.

“I may be a bit arrogant here, but I challenge you to find anyone with that rate.”

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