Known for exquisite chocolates, premium chocolate producer and distributor Pierre Marcolini Haute Chocolaterie needs to let premium boutique staff focus on selling chocolate instead of managing IT systems. Hosted desktop solutions from Net Computer Group allow the chocolaterie to focus on producing and marketing chocolate, while still running a growing worldwide business.
The business of award-winning Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini has grown to 14 stores worldwide including boutiques across Belgium and in fashionable destinations such as Paris, London, Monaco and Tokyo. With a quest for excellence in the collections, the producer gathers exquisite ingredients from around the globe to create the delicacies of a customer’s dreams. Managing IT servers doesn’t fit into the core competencies of the firm. In-house servers had been located in less than ideal locations and required a significant amount of capital expenditure, as well as maintenance time and budget. With stores open 365 days a year, IT challenges on weekends caused significant problems for the staff. The firm needed IT systems to support commerce and wanted to focus on the core business of transforming the cocoa bean to chocolate delicacies.
“We aimed to externalize the IT competence to a hosted solution,” explained Geoffroy Timmermans, head of business development for Marcolini. “We needed access to solutions via any computer in any country through an Internet connection. If someone was entering or leaving the company, we needed a flexible solution to give rights or access to data.” After researching options, Marcolini chose the Cloudbizz™ virtual datacenter solution from Net Computer Group in Brussels. As a Citrix® Service Provider partner, Net Computer Group could use Citrix XenApp® to provide hosted desktops and applications. With the hosted option, the Marcolini boutique staff can focus on their role as experts in chocolate and fine confections, yet access critical store reporting systems in a simple and consistent manner. “Like everyone in the company, we don’t understand much of informatics – the less we hear about it, the better we can focus on our core competencies,” Mr. Timmermans said. “We can now focus on producing and making chocolate.”
Whether staff is in Belgium or abroad, they have access to the critical applications that run the business, like Microsoft Dynamics or Cylande. “From a click on their desktop, we wanted them to have an easy experience,” Mr. Timmermans said. Hosted application solutions deliver store information back to headquarters, including inventory, current product catalog, sales and reporting.
“For us, the key advantage to hosted solutions is growing the business. You decide to stay small or grow. If you choose to grow, you need to be scalable and follow your rhythm,” Mr. Timmermans said. “In retail, you don’t always define the rhythm yourself. If you find a new location for a store, you might have to be very reactive to get it. As a business, we need to be very reactive to opportunities. You plan, but the infrastructure has to follow you along the way. If we added 5 to 7 new stores next year, they would be very convenient to open through Cloudbizz.”
Moving from internal systems to a hosted infrastructure was a smooth transition for Marcolini. “There was a low cost of migration,” Mr. Timmermans said. While day-to-day operations are not low cost, he described the costs as acceptable. “With the ease of use and the fact that we don’t see or hear about the IT infrastructure much anymore, it’s acceptable,” he said.
Marcolini looks to partner with Net Computer Group using Cloudbizz™ to continue to provide IT hosting options for critical functions to expand the business. As Pierre Marcolini’s celebrity grows, the business will grow as well. His citation as World Pastry Champion and appearances on television, including a role in the jury of the France 2 competition show “Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier? (Who will be the next great pastry chef?),” increase the global recognition of the brand and also the business development rhythm--and IT needs to follow.
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