The Warehouse is planning to roll out Oracle financials at its Australian operations from August 1, following the implementation, half-complete, of the same package at Warehouse Stationery and its introduction to the New Zealand “red sheds” last year.
However, don’t expect too many common applications between the three branches of the business, IS manager James Allison says, because each business unit is relatively autonomous and the stationery arm mainly uses specialised, bespoke software including Pivotal’s CRM suite. “Each has some degree of autonomy regarding IT,” says Allison.
The Warehouse became a three-tier operation following the acquisition of Australian discount retailers Silly Solly’s and Clint’s Crazy Bargains. Overall, each of the three businesses — the red sheds in New Zealand, the yellow sheds in Australia and the blue sheds of Warehouse Stationery — is at a different stage of maturity and have different goals, he says. Nonetheless, there is close collaboration between units on IT and telecommunications, but it tends to be red-yellow and red-blue, with little interaction between Australia and Warehouse Stationery.
Red and blue are working together at the infrastructure level, on telecommunications and servers, he says. “Regarding data centres, things are happening — a key project is the transition of the Australian business to using the core systems New Zealand uses.” And the three businesses share a standard desktop environment.
Taking an industry-wide look at the year ahead, Allison sees a continuation of “the constant battle for more value, not just more tin”, and doesn’t think the Microsoft Software Assurance “debacle” has ended. “There’ll be a lot of interest in open source.” The Warehouse has no particular plans regarding open source, but is closely watching that space, Allison says. “Our technical guys have an interest in it.”
The decisions by telecommunications commissioner Douglas Webb will continue to impact that sector, he says and the industry as a whole. As a customer of both HP and Compaq, The Warehouse is benefiting from the relatively smooth merger. “It’s settled down nicely — they had a very successful merger locally and the product sets and paths are consistent and reliable.”
The Warehouse is sticking to its decision, made a year ago, not to replace former CIO Neville Brown, but Allison says “we haven’t ruled it out completely — it’s the CEO’s call”.