However, once they switch out
their hard-coded mainframe environments with standards-based
application infrastructures, companies typically realize significant
cost savings, reduced dependence
on hard-to-find programming
skills, and newfound flexibility and
agility. Such is the potential of IT
became abundantly clear to Office
Depot during the company’s merchandising system upgrade.
“That upgrade has led to a
much broader modernization effort
that we have underway today,”
says Mike Kirschner, vice president of IT for the Delray Beach,
Florida–based office supplies giant.
“We have a lot of local systems
or regionalized systems now, so
one of the things we’re trying to
do is create a set of software that
we can use on a global basis.
That’s going to require retiring
some legacy components in some
cases. In other cases, it’s not just
legacy systems. We have to make
For Klaus Hackbarth, CIO of WGV, new IT systems mean promoting a spirit of change across the
choices to retire even some of the company. “It’s necessary to change the organization and the minds of people, so that they are able
more-modern software just because to use all the functionality in the system. We train our people to change very often,” he says.
we don’t need two copies of different
software doing the same thing.”
Kirschner and his team are turning over every rock—from
enterprise resource planning and finance to shipping and
fulfillment—to prepare Office Depot for the fast-changing
business environment needed to remain competitive for the
next decade. “Some applications, such as human resources,
where we recently upgraded from a homegrown application
to [Oracle’s] PeopleSoft, are fine. For other applications, we
clearly need an exit strategy and a new application,” he says.
And just as Office Depot needed to move away from relying
on PowerBuilder, the company is taking a hard look at what
kind of infrastructure its next-generation applications will run
on. The company’s new merchandising system runs on the Sun
Solaris Operating System, making use of a newly deployed
Oracle database. Although Office Depot hasn’t committed to
any new technology purchases, that foundation, along with the
company’s focus on working with vendors that support open
standards, gives Oracle a clear advantage. But there’s still a
lengthy process ahead.
“The first thing we’re trying to do is establish what our
global business processes are. How do we want to run our
business—not just how do we run it today in North America
or Europe, but how do we want to run it tomorrow on a
global basis?” says Kirschner. “As we prioritize our needs, we’ll
figure out what application areas to focus on. We’ll also do
an analysis around where our pain points are with our legacy
applications.” Only then will Kirschner’s team make technology choices and begin modernizing additional applications.
One thing Kirschner is certain of: a service-oriented architecture (SOA) will be a vital piece of the puzzle, allowing the
company’s future applications to make use of a common set of
features or functions. “If you just face the fact that you need to