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Halfords CIO picks Fujitsu to manage in-store IT equipment

The car and bike parts retailer is transforming its IT infrastructure.

By Joe Curtis

Fujitsu has signed a three-year deal to maintain and support tech hardware deployed in nearly 500 Halfords stores, as the car and bike parts retailer updates its IT estate.

The retailer is a year into a project to transform its IT infrastructure by 2017, and has picked Fujitsu to manage and repair hardware including till systems, telephony services and printers at 486 UK outlets.

CIO Anna Barsby, a year into the job herself, told CBR the agreement also covers support for laptops rolled out to the stores last Christmas, as well as one tablet for each store, about to be deployed.

While Fujitsu will maintain these, Barsby opted for Lenovo tablets rather than for the Japanese tech firm’s own devices.

She said: "We needed a relatively simple tablet really to get internet access. We’re not doing anything flash with them. They will be able to access the Halford apps we’ve got and also the website."

They will also have access to Halford’s technical explainer videos on YouTube, and Barsby hopes the devices will provide customers with a link between the stores and Halford’s online presence.

"It gives them that rounded experience," she explained. "It should be seamless for the customer whether they’re interacting with us online or in the store."

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The tablets will additionally be used for employee training to give them the expert knowledge the specialist stores want to provide to customers.

Barsby revealed that Halfords is speaking with Microsoft and Google over their collaboration tools as the firm seeks to upgrade end user computing as well as email systems, currently on IBM’s Lotus Notes.

The CIO hopes this could bolster communication between colleagues of different stores, allowing them to share their expertise with one another.

"We have so much knowledge among our colleagues in store that being able to capture that and share it amongst ourselves would be invaluable," she said.

With Barsby in charge of IT, Halfords is picking a smaller group of partners to tender to, rather than having many different suppliers, and HP is currently upgrading the retailer’s SAP system, hosting it in its private cloud.

"The SAP upgrade was many years waiting," said Barsby, adding that HP has taken the reins from previous SAP system manager CenturyLink. The CIO believes the six-month-old project should be completed in the next three months.

"We did a full tender with a number of suppliers and really liked HP’s approach," she said. "What I like is a model where I can talk to my suppliers about the outcome, and they can come up with creative ideas on how they can help us implement."

Halfords is also looking at a network upgrade and data centre hosting as it considers taking the virtualisation route.

It currently uses CenturyLink data centres for the majority of its systems, but is preparing to transfer to Tata Communications.

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