Working up a Lauder

8 May 2006

Businesses usually tend to invest in technology to enable growth into new markets. In the case of chemical materials distributor Norman Lauder, an investment in a cutting-edge voice and data system was made in order to cope with the challenges of growth.

The Dublin-based company, which was established in 1952 by Norman and Peggy Lauder and specialising in the distribution of chemicals and raw materials, has expanded to become a major provider of supplies to the pharmaceutical, biotech, nutrition, food and beverage, cosmetics and packaging industries.

“With a significant growth in our business and the purchase of a second office, we needed an efficient and cost-effective technology solution to orchestrate our information flow between our offices, manage application deployment and maintain our mobile users with the least effort and cost,” explains Norman Lauder IT manager Karl McCullagh.

The company, according to McCullagh, wanted to ensure that its sales staff, who tend to work remotely either on the road or from their home office, could enjoy the same level of productivity and communication as they would if they were in the office.

Datapac, Norman Lauder’s solutions provider, recommended Citrix Access Essentials and a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony solution to cut costs, increase efficiency and give all employees access to real-time information from anywhere. As well as cutting costs internally, salespeople on the road can make VoIP calls from their laptops using broadband, Wi-Fi or 3G cards. McCullagh explained that the company is also looking at forging direct VoIP links to suppliers on mainland Europe.

Datapac implemented Citrix Access Essentials at Norman Lauder to centralise all critical applications. Staff can now access all finance and customer relationship management applications from anywhere using any device. “Our salespeople travel abroad to meet suppliers and to attend training courses regularly,” explains McCullagh. “By giving our staff in the field access to real-time information, we can gain a competitive advantage as an organisation.”

The company, McCullagh notes, has reached its objective of reducing time to deploy upgrades and new applications. IT staff can now install applications on the central server and make them available immediately to all staff members, thereby further increasing productivity and competitive advantage.

Datapac then implemented 3Com’s NBX telephony system, a VoIP telephony solution that extends voice services via the web by converting voice to data packets and then transmitting them over the company’s local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) or any IP connection to a home or remote office.

McCullagh says Norman Lauder is saving money with this solution by building and maintaining only one network for both voice and data communications. It also gains control of ongoing administration and sets the stage for implementing new features such as unified messaging, call recording and computer telephony integration.

“Remote/home working is now a real option for staff as the corporate voice network allows employees to make and receive voice calls to and from their laptops or an IP extension in their home office,” he adds. “This cutting-edge technology allows us to function as one office. Staff members are available at one number and they can be located in Dublin, around the country or abroad.”

McCullagh believes there are serious productivity gains to be accrued by giving remote salespeople the latest IT tools. “From the salesperson’s point of view there is less time spent travelling back to the office. “They can go online to get the latest information and put in orders. They can do everything live no matter where they are. That’s a definite benefit for this company because they can spend more time on the road with customers.”

He says the next stage for Norman Lauder is to connect with one of its main suppliers in Germany via VoIP and investigate installing a secure access gateway. “By connecting up with our suppliers in Europe we really will see huge savings on data communications and international calls,” McCullagh concludes.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Karl McCullagh, IT manager, Norman Lauder, and Edel Creely, commercial director, Datapac