Carphone Warehouse seeks “ERP for IT”

With IT organisations increasingly being asked to do more with less budget, it emerged today the Carphone Warehouse would like to see the development of more functionally specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

"If you work in HR [human resources] or the finance department, chances are there'll be an Oracle for HR or SAP for Financials ERP type of package out there, using well functionality around terms like leavers, starters, accounts payable and invoicing," said Peter Schofield, Carphone Warehouse IT service and operations director.

"But there's no ERP for IT'," he told delegates at the Retail Solutions show in London. "There's nothing in the marketplace that offers a coherent means of automating the management of IT in a joined-up way."

The telecoms giant has an array of IT and business service management (ITSM and BSM) tools that it has been using, in conjunction with a major cultural change programme, to increase service levels in its IT organisation and maintain business-critical operations, like its in-store till systems for example.

Part of the reason ITSM became a priority for the IT organisation was, according to Schofield, because it has had its operational budget by 15 per cent this year compared to the last. "Although the cost of hardware and software has fallen, complexity of IT systems has increased," he said.

Yet, he pointed out the lack of off-the-shelf products in the market that could deliver ERP-like functionality to IT organisations "without having to knit your [HP] Open View platform together with your [BMC] Remedy components, for example," he added.

Schofield said the Carphone Warehouse had been investing in VMware technologies and tools to orchestrate key IT management processes and had recently taken on run book automation technology from Enigmatec to add to its growing ITSM capabilities.

"If a piece of hardware is failing, we use Enigmatec to orchestrate the response where, for instance, it can allocate more CPUs," he said. "We're just looking at it to see if we can trust it to know if it can really offer us automation in these kinds of situations even if that then means triggering an alert in the BSM system for the provisioning of more CPUs to be authorised. We currently have to build this kind integration ourselves, but I'd love there to be an end-to-end solution out there."

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.