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How a hail storm spurred Makita's IT transformation

How a hail storm spurred Makita's IT transformation

The firm will be operating completely differently in six month's time thanks to current initiatives

After a massive loss of IT systems during a hail storm, power tools retailer Makita learnt to pick itself up and achieve greater flexibility, standardisation and cost savings.

As large ice rocks plummeted onto the company headquarters on Anzac Day this year, the building's roof gave out, leaving the office and its IT systems below flooded.

"There was a huge undertaking in replacing all that IT capability, including the hardware from desktops, laptops, VoIP systems, so on," said Shaun Adams, assistant IT manager for Makita Australia. "We were in a situation where we had to look at our whole OS [operating system] and SOE [standard operating environment]."

In Makita's first move to tackle the challenge in rebuilding all its IT, Adams and his team decided to install Windows 10 for Business on about 260 of company devices, which is expected to be complete by November this year. Windows 10 was selected after rigorous testing proved it was strong enough to handle its bespoke-built business applications and overall service model.

"[Windows 10] was very strong, I tried to break it inside our environment, and I couldn't. We've thrown legacy Java at it, HTML1, lots of legacy domain attributes and things that should break it, and it didn't, so we were quite confident pushing that across."

Adams said the a subsequent huge Microsoft-specific push throughout the business, integrating Windows 10 with Office 365 and Skype for Business, will do a lot for standardising work processes, improving productivity and security, while alleviating a lot of cost.

A key factor of the overhaul for Makita was catering to its largely distributed workforce, with salespeople working across the country, and 50 per cent of their employees working remotely. Adams said the company is pushing toward device unity, as currently workers operate across numerous different devices and platforms, often stifling productivity.

"Even before the loss, our specific environment was a very mixed bag. We had some Windows XP devices, and also Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate. Supporting it was very difficult for us so despite the accident, this was still the light at the end of the tunnel," said Adams.

"From now on there's not going to be multiple policies for multiple devices, we can just set it and forget it."

Makita salespeople and customer service teams go through regular training to keep their knowledge of company products and their service skills up to date. Trying to regularly transport individual workers to one location for said training was costing the company thousands every year.

"With Skype for Business we're going to save tens of thousands of dollars on training our people in the first six months. Being able to do that, along with the uniformity of our new security, that's going to be huge for us from an IT management point of view," said Adams.

Another big selling point for Makita was the implementation of virtual desktops through the Task View feature, which will enable employees with varying roles to better organise desktop views with several jobs on the go at any one time.

"That will be a real boon for the multi-taskers, allowing them to go back and forth between either open apps or multiple virtual 'desktops' of apps," said Adams.

"It’s an exciting time for Makita in Australia because the way we operate today is going to be very different to the way we operate in six months’ time, and that change is being driven by the initiatives that we’re undertaking now.

"We're going to be able to come back (from the huge loss) a lot stronger, and completely modernised."

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Tags unified communicationsdisaster recoveryWindows 10Office 365BYODIT overhaulnatural disasterspower toolsretailMakitaMicrosoftsecurityretailermobilityStandardisingcollaborationSkype for Business

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