SAN DIEGO—Les White is not a technology guy. But he’s rolling out an example of one of the more advanced applications at his franchise of 26 Subway fast food stores in Tucson, Ariz., that represent the next wave of Cisco Systems’ channel partner engagements.
Cisco used the story of White’s engagement with reseller partners IPcelerate and Calence to illustrate how it expects its channel partners to evolve their go-to-market strategies to become business solutions providers.
In the launch of its revamped channel partner program, Cisco demonstrated the new applications built on Cisco’s Unified Communications system.
Click here to read more about Cisco’s revamped channel partner program.
IPcelerate developed the customized application set for White’s franchise to boost efficiency across the 26 retail outlets.
The applications, delivered to the stores using a Cisco Unified IP Phone 7970G with color display, automate such store functions as timecard and shift management; daily deposits; storewide emergency awareness; customer-order improvement; daily storewide task awareness; and employee recognition and safety.
White and his area managers worked with IPcelerate over the course of a week in an “applications discovery workshop” to learn what applications could be automated in a Unified IP Communications system, according to John Moore, director of applications consulting at IPcelerate in Golden Valley, Minn.
The applications, hosted from an IPcelerate server appliance, provide core paging, call functions, and status alerts, he said.
They execute functions detailed in White’s Red Book of rules on how to run a Subway operation.
The rules, intended to provide a guideline for the young employees, include reminders on when certain tasks must be accomplished.
The new system uses the Unified Communication system to automate reminders about when bread should be put into the oven, for example. If an employee does not respond and acknowledge that the action was taken within a set period of time, the system automatically repeats the reminder and escalates further notices until the action is taken, according to White.
“We’re dealing with 17- to 22-year-old kids. The computer reminds them at specific times on where things should be and gives them guidance on what needs to be done when. It keeps people accountable,” he said.
IPcelerate, a Cisco Technology Developer Program Partner, collaborated with Calence to put the complete system together. Calence, a Phoenix-based Cisco Gold Certified Partner, planned, designed and implemented the Cisco Unified Communications system.
That also included deploying DSL lines to the stores and T-1 lines to White’s home, which serves as headquarters for his company, dubbed Zeus Nestora.
The application set is in use in five of White’s 26 stores to date. “Once we work out the kinks, it will be in all the stores,” said White.
The kinks include tweaking the system to incorporate ideas from area directors for additional functions to be incorporated into the system, and conducting additional training.
Because the system automates time sheets, White can track and control when employees start and end their day. That allows him to avoid having to pay employees overtime when it is not necessary, he said. That alone will save his operation $500,000 a year, he estimates.
Other ideas White is working on with his directors include creating specially timed “rah rah” motivational sessions with employees gathered around the IP phone. He found in one experiment using just such a technique that employees in the five stores increased their sandwich output during prime lunch hours by 30 percent, he said.
The system is based on the Cisco Media Convergence Server running Cisco Unified CallManager software, Cisco Unity Voice Messaging, Cisco Unified IP Phone 7970Gs, Cisco Catalyst switches, Cisco integrated services routers, and Cisco’s PIX firewall.
It can easily scale to support 2000 end points, according to Moore.
Beyond the current set of functions, White is thinking about adding IP-based cameras for video surveillance. He is also dreaming about creating IP Phone kiosks in buildings near his stores that would allow customers to pre-order their sandwiches and have them ready—and fresh—when they enter the store. “However creative you want to be, you can be,” he said.
The project, put together by Cisco, Calence and IPcelerate in what White characterized as “a three-legged tripod,” illustrates the type of consultative approach to selling required under the new Cisco partner programs.
“They listened to me to find out what it took for me to grow a business. They listened and came through on what they said they were gong to do,” said White.
“The technology will let me expand and grow faster. I thought it would separate me from my employees, but it’s had the opposite effect,” he added.