Video Ezy's operations manager Clinton Hayes talks to Richard Noone about keeping things "all systems go"ARN: What integrator and/or VAR partners do you deal with and how long have the associations been going for?
Hayes: We've used a number of companies and consultants for individual projects but on a regular basis we work with Umedia. We've been using them for a couple of years now. We also use Custom Soft for franchise POS systems and other software.
What made you decide to partner with these organisations?
We recognised a few years ago that we'd have to become more sophisticated. Ninety per cent of our stores are franchised so each one has its own database and its own proprietor. We've also got a SQL server as well as a couple of servers running on NT. But we needed to communicate across all the stores. So we set up a corporate intranet. We wanted to move towards a paperless office, so orders, marketing initiatives and other communications are done via this intranet which Umedia set up.
What have your impressions been of Umedia as a partner? Have they lived up to your expectations?
Certainly, they've kept our system up and running and handled any problems we've had. Umedia sits on the fringes of our business to an extent, which allows us to worry about our day-to-day operations. If there are any problems we can't handle they come in and sort it out.
We've just purchased an expensive accounting package from Navision, and the challenge for Umedia is making sure they coordinate all our programs with the new software system.
What are your impressions of the broader integration market? Have the standards improved?
I think so. There are a lot more companies around now and these are becoming more specialised, moving into more niche areas. Getting the right mix of skills and experience is difficult. The biggest challenge is bringing those specialised companies with the skills and experience together to work on a project.
Are you quite happy to stick with the partners you currently deal with?
Yes. Our whole system is based around the Web and Umedia's helped us build our public Web site and corporate intranet and they've managed it well. But now we are looking to bring in a dedicated IT manager to take a bit of the workload off Umedia and to handle our growing IT infrastructure.
A lot has been said in the channel about value-added services. Do you think your partners have been effective in providing you with special initiatives?
Umedia has coordinated all our projects and has done a good job. If they don't have the skills or resources in-house they'll bring in companies.
Established in Australia: 1983
International presence: New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia expanding into Fiji, Mexico, Philippines and throughout Asia.
IT partners: Umedia - subsidiary of Australian custom software developer Antaris. CustomSoft - software developer, vertical market specialist in video rental/retail systems.
IT demands: E-commerce-enabled corporate intranet across the Web, back-ended with central and franchise databases. E-mail system.
Initiatives: Public Web site. Joint alliance with Umedia for online video store Ezybuy.