Tying together business units and companies after a merger is no simple task. From a technology perspective, it can push systems and organizational processes beyond the breaking point. However, one company that has transformed the challenge into bona fide results is Advantage Waypoint, a national marketing outsourcing firm that serves major branded food manufacturers, universities and hospitals across North America.
In 2011, Waypoint found itself in the position of merging nine different firms, including rivals, and then being acquired by the current parent company. “On average, these nine companies were 32 years old,” said CIO Harry Folloder. “We found ourselves dealing with old IT systems and legacy processes.”
In fact, Waypoint had limited visibility into employee activities, endpoint devices and applications running on the network.
“Because we operate with low margins we recognized that it was important to make changes and improve operating efficiency. We required zero-day visibility,” Folloder said.
In January 2012, the company merged the nine data centers into a single platform driven by a Dell KACE 1000 Systems Management Appliance and Dell Compellent solid state storage. Waypoint was able to assemble the infrastructure — including servers, storage and other equipment — and have it running on a Cisco network within about three weeks.
“Time was the biggest issue but once we received the green light the project moved forward very rapidly,” Folloder said. The changes paid dividends immediately. “We were able to singularize processes and technology across the company and dramatically improve a number of areas, including help desk ticketing.”
The initiative has paid off in terms of both performance and dollars. Not only was Waypoint able to reduce capital costs by utilizing a single vendor to manage its systems and infrastructure, it has been able to greatly reduce operating expenditures. Folloder said that the company saved more than $1 million in the first year and about $850,000 since then.
“Through the savings we were able to self-fund a mobile deployment for our front-line sales people,” he said.
The real-time data spans 658 North American clients — including the likes of Tyson Foods, Land O’Lakes, 3M and Rubbermaid. Waypoint has rolled out a group of mobile apps to its 1,000 plus field associates. These revolve around functions such as real-time purchase information, sales task automation, product intelligence and real-time surveys.
But the benefits haven’t stopped there. The initiative has also helped the company adopt encryption technology on the mobile platform and beyond, and it has introduced robust disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. The technology has greatly simplified employee provisioning and de-provisioning. “We now have systems in place to manage the process in a very efficient way across the entire company,” Folloder explained.
The biggest challenge, beyond the short time frame to install the platform, was getting everyone on board with news systems and approaches. Employees had to adapt to a new field sales platform and there was a learning curve associated with it. Yet, in the end, Folloder said that the initiative has provided transformative results.
“Since we went live with the system we have experienced three to four times the growth of our competitors. The IT department has become a better partner to the business and to our clients.”