With the acquisition of a number of Australian businesses and their subsequent rebranding in 2020, Thomas Foods International (TFI) set out on a path to standardise and consolidate its Australian telephony environment, forming the platform for future local and international unified communications and digital transformation initiatives.
The newly rebranded Australian arm, Thomas Foods International Australia (TFI Australia) is a wholesale and retail supplier of quality Australian meat and seafood with a presence in all mainland states and territories. TFI Australia’s retail food products are branded as Thomas Farms for delivery to supermarkets, butchers, other retail outlets and direct to consumers.
TFI Australia had “nearly every flavour of on-site PABX available”, explained CIO Matt Kruschel. Due to the regional location of most of its facilities, getting data connectivity has been difficult, so most have been operating on either PSTN or ISDN services. However, by mid-2020 at five of its seven sites the PABX hardware had reached end of support, and PSTN services were being shutdown at a number of its locations.
“It nearly created the perfect storm, but out of the crisis came an opportunity,” said Kruschel.
“We’ve been on a unified communications journey for a while and when we saw a demo of RingCentral it ticked all the boxes plus more in enabling our UC journey. Unified communications is a major cultural and educational shift for the business. As a web-based solution, RingCentral gave us the opportunity to fill all the gaps we were missing and move past that ‘just dial tone’ experience,” Kruschel explained.
With minimal disruption to the business, 175 endpoints were deployed remotely in seven locations in under three weeks by TFI Australia’s IT manager with the support of RingCentral’s implementation team.
The result for TFI Australia has been to improve collaboration among the business units, with RingCentral’s features are allowing each site to integrate directly and work more efficiently together. It’s also removed the myriad web-based collaboration tools that had been in use across the business and increased the mobility and effectiveness of TFI Australia staff. When interstate and international borders re-open, TFI also expects RingCentral to dramatically reduce costs and improve communications for its travelling users.
“Through the RingCentral mobile app, communication with our endpoints can move seamlessly with our users. If staff were out of the office, they used to forward their calls to their mobiles, which takes them off our PABX. That had a big negative impact on our productivity,” said Kruschel.
Maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture is also key for TFI. “We have a small IT team to manage our whole environment, so knowing that the RingCentral platform’s technology and security is constantly managed and updated takes the pressure off our team,” said Kruschel.
As a rapidly growing family-owned international business with a core group of decision-makers, TFI is fast-moving and quick to seize on business opportunities or respond to changing market conditions. As a result, the IT team can be asked to set up a new office or integrate an existing business with little notice.
“From the communications side, with RingCentral we can deliver very quickly. In fact, our IT Manager rolled out communications for our Western Australian office from his mobile phone; provisioned the line and everything was up and ready; sent the email off to the end user saying this is what you need to do,” said Kruschel.
The rest of the business can change at TFI’s pace – “as PABX hardware comes up for renewal on any of our sites, we will replace it with RingCentral technology.” That also includes any new sites that TFI establishes. At the moment, TFI is building a $300m state-of-the-art flagship processing facility near Murray Bridge in SA, which will be fitted out with RingCentral when it opens in the near future.
That also includes TFI’s other IT and business decisions, such as plans in the future to rollout a new CRM solution that will be able to integrate back into both TFI’s ERP and RingCentral platforms. That plan is initially focussed on Australia, but the longer-term goal will be to fully integrate and consolidate TFI’s systems in the US, China, Japan and Europe when these business units are ready.
“Our UC journey has really just started and investing in RingCentral gives us a platform that will enable us to mature in the years to come. Eventually it will enable us to take care of UC globally from a single pane of glass.”
“RingCentral came at the right time with the right price and with the right solution,” concluded Kruschel.
For more information about Thomas Foods International Australia go to https://thomasfoods.com.au.
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