Dollond & Aitchison boosts bandwidth

Dollond & Aitchison, the UK's longest-established opticians business, has signed up to the ntl:Telewest Business network to deliver a programme of customer service enhancements in its branches.

The Virgin Media business communication services provider has deployed an internet protocol virtual private network (IPVPN) using multi-protocol labelling system (MPLS) technology, supplying digital subscriber line (DSL) services to each of its 401 UK branches.

The IPVPN connects all branches back to the company's headquarters in Aston, Birmingham, and mirrors data to a disaster recovery centre in nearby Yardley.

Paul Willows, Dollond & Aitchison information services director, told IT PRO the deal would provide the capability to continue its programme of customer service based operational enhancements, including the roll out of customer relationship management (CRM) systems from SAP.

"The SAP programme, over about two and a half years, involved getting the system live at the centre. The secondary phase was to get the CRM up and running," he said. "And now we're the third phase of rolling it out to the stores, the WAN [wide area network] and its extra bandwidth will enable this, as well as push out other applications in time."

The centralising of all customer records allows glasses, contact lenses and other products to be readied for customers at any branch. Customers can also now view products online in branches and place orders.

The network is also being used to support a new centralised electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) system to improve sales reporting by quickly providing a single record of each day's trading across the country.

Willows added that a "single version of the truth" allows in-store personnel to deliver more a higher level of more personalised customer service. But he said the new network benefits were wide-ranging.

"We can disseminate training materials electronically, saving on printing and postage costs as well," Willows said. "It's part of a larger programme of work to essentially refresh the infrastructure of the company."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.