Here is the latest article in a new eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.
Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.
These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.
Today’s Topic: Optimizing the IT for a Sports Apparel Provider
Name of the problem to be solved: Fanatics is a technology-driven, consumer company that powers the Fanatics, FansEdge, Kitbag and Majestic brands, as well as a large selection of sports collectibles and memorabilia through Fanatics Authentic
Fanatics operates more than 300 online and brick-and-mortar partner stores, including the e-commerce business for all major professional sports leagues, major media brands and more than 200 collegiate and professional team properties.
The company utilizes a vertical manufacturing system to design, manufacture and distribute apparel. This approach enables quick delivery of championship merchandise; in fact, Fanatics recently partnered with Uber to bring fans celebratory merchandise immediately following a big win.
Fanatics is known for innovation, but the company’s use of internal collaboration technologies didn’t reflect its innovation as a brand. Collaboration tools were siloed, scattered across departments and not well documented. Employees were confused by which tools to use when, and the corporate systems team had difficulty measuring usage.
Fanatics also recently acquired sports apparel manufacturing company Majestic, meaning a new group of employees was being integrated into the Fanatics family. With co-headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. and San Mateo, Calif. and a growing employee base of 3,000-plus people around the world, Fanatics’ executive leadership ordered a digital transformation initiative to fuel their next phase of growth.
Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: Part of the digital transformation initiative meant modernizing collaboration technologies, moving away from on-premises servers to a cloud-based solution and consolidating tools. Fanatics wanted its internal technologies to boost productivity and better reflect the innovations they were making as a retail brand.
Given that Fanatics employees are regularly meeting with athletes, retailers and licensing partners around the world, the ability to quickly connect from any device was a key decision criterion.
List the key components in the solution: By integrating with cloud-based workplace tools such as Office365 and Slack and a Cisco Systems data center, BlueJeans Network quickly become integral to daily collaboration across the company—both internally and externally, with partners and suppliers.
BlueJeans Network provides an interoperable cloud-based video conferencing service that connects participants across a wide range of devices and conferencing platforms. It is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif.
Describe how the deployment went, how long it took and if it went off as planned: Since formally deploying BlueJeans, adoption has been excellent with a 3x increase in meeting usage. The Collaboration team now has the ability to accurately measure usage, centrally manage their BlueJeans deployment and report on ROI—something they weren’t able to do with Cisco WebEx.
Describe the results, new efficiencies gained and what was learned from the project:
- Seamless acquisition integration: Acquisitions are exciting moments for both companies, but the reality of integrating people, processes and technology stacks is rarely easy. The team held daily standup video meetings to discuss integration plans and provide updates on initiatives. BlueJeans enabled a seamless integration of the entire Majestic team, outfitting everyone with their own accounts within a few days.
- Global executive communications: Fanatics’ CEO uses BlueJeans Events to host global all-hands meetings and regularly address the company. BlueJeans moderator controls allow Fanatics to host professional-grade broadcasts with thousands of employees with Q&A chat, interactive presenters and can record the meetings for later viewing.
Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, staff time savings, if any:
- Executive time savings: Executives at the company are projected to gain an average of three weeks per year in time savings due to the ability to instantly connect to meetings from anywhere, including their mobile devices when on the road, with one touch.
- Better meetings: Fanatics retired their WebEx contract and moved the entire employee base to BlueJeans as the chosen meeting solution. The IT team gave employees a two-week grace period to transition, and BlueJeans has since received a 94 percent approval rating.
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