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Thelinor is the installation partner of UPC, the leading home entertainment group. Thelinor was established in 2004 by Dave Thompson. Since then Thelinor has grown from a staff of four covering Dublin to a staff of over 120 covering Leinster, Munster and Connaught.
Thelinor was an early adopter of BlackBerry in order to communicate by email to engineers on the road. “However, our operations were still primarily paper driven, from engineering worksheets to document confirmation signings at the home of the end user. My goal was to implement the latest technology to get to a stage where we were 95% paperless. However, I also needed to do this against a backdrop of minimal capital investment and low monthly operating costs.”
My goal was to implement the latest technology to get to a stage where we were 95% paperless.
One of the catalysts for the move was the fact that Thelinor’s Microsoft Office licences were due for renewal. “There was a lot of talk about exciting new technologies from tablet devices such as the Apple iPad to cloud computing so I sat down with our mobile partner Three to discuss the options,” comments Dave Thompson. “Thelinor was an ideal candidate for our enterprise mobility solution which we simply call ‘Joined up People’,” comments Stephen Ryan, senior account manager Three which operates the Three brand.
As part of this Thelinor is rolling out Apple iPads and iPhones to its 100 engineers on the road. One of its many mobile features is that the iPad allows for electronic signature. “We wanted something that had a large enough screen and was as easy to use and view as a piece of paper,” commented Thompson.
Thompson also reviewed with Three how to maximise security as he moved from BlackBerry devices to iPhone. He also wanted to control and lock down what employees could download to their iPhones and iPads. “Skype is an approved app, Angry Birds isn’t,” comments Thompson. As part of the control of iPhones and iPads, Three implemented Zenprise, an enterprise mobile device security system. This provides remote workers with secure access to corporate email, company approved apps and data on their iPhone and iPad. Security settings can be configured centrally to blacklist and whitelist apps as well as restricting downloads from iTunes, iCloud, YouTube etc. “We are highly security conscious,” comments Thompson. “No data is stored on any individual device, so if one is lost or stolen our information remains secure.” Three also felt that its cloud based solution Microsoft Office 365 would be an ideal way for Thelinor employees on the road and at head office to access and use the latest email, document and collaboration tools cost effectively.
Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud productivity service available to Three’s business customers. The service offers the well known Microsoft Office package, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Exchange for as little as €5 a month per user with any Three business plan. As Microsoft Office 365 is hosted in the cloud, the business does not have to worry about the added expense of hardware, software licences, hosting or maintenance.
As well as access to the normal Office products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Office 365 includes spam filter and back-up as part of the price. “Without this we would have to pay for separate spam and back-up software in addition to our existing on site back up,” comments Thompson.
Office 365 is being implemented on a monthly subscription basis by not only the engineers on the road but by employees back in head office, thereby reducing the costs of on premise software, licensing and hardware. This means that Thelinor has the flexibility to pay for what it needs and add or subtract users as business demand changes.
“We are well on our way this year to achieve our goal of a 95% paperless system,” commented Dave Thompson. “Apart from the environmental benefits, it has reduced our invoicing lead time by at least seven days with positive cash flow results.”
This is because when a job is completed it is entered on the iPad and communicated in real time over Three’s 3G network to head office for invoicing. In the past an engineer had to get a docket signed which would then be posted to the office when the opportunity arose.
Thelinor engineers are now using the iPad camera to take photos of interesting or unusual installations which they can share with others in real time, especially if they meet a technical problem or question. Thelinor will also be using the network to incorporate a closed Twitter feed allowing engineers to share and collaborate on technical issues or questions.
“We have axed commuting time as, with this technology, there is little need for engineers to visit the office as in the past.” This will be facilitated even further by the implementation of Lync, part of Office 365, to arrange video conferencing remotely. It is already using the iPad for face to face video calls through Skype.
In addition to all the productivity benefits of using the latest enterprise mobility technology, Thelinor has cut costs.
“The monthly mobile cost of each engineer on the road is just over €65 per month including all our calls, internet access, texts, security, spam filter and backup,” says Thompson. “A few years ago I was paying many times that just to make calls. Another advantage of working with Three is that we receive a single bill for all our communications needs so we know exactly where we are and what it is costing us.”
Thompson adds, “In addition to its invaluable communications input and advice, Three was also a vital partner for us in that, in my experience, it has the most reliable Mobile Broadband network,” comments Thompson. “We operate nationwide so reliable communications from email to phone is dependent on a resilient network. Three’s mobile broadband is the best in the business. Also, because the SIM card is built into the iPad we don’t have any issues with dongles being dislodged or damaged.
Thompson says that Three has been an ideal IT partner to work with. “Three is now much more than a mobile phone provider but a total communications partner. They rolled up their sleeves and helped us every step of the way.
“At the end of the day we view IT as a means to serve our customers better at lower cost as well as boost our productivity and staff morale. Three, through its complete communication solutions, has certainly helped us to achieve that.”