GlobalCo merger puts brakes on Brains

The proposed merger of Kiwi Dairies and NZ Dairy Group into GlobalCo is putting the brakes on one subsidiary's promising IT project.

The proposed merger of Kiwi Dairies and NZ Dairy Group into GlobalCo is putting the brakes on one subsidiary’s promising IT project.

Waikato-based RD1, which is owned largely by NZ Dairy Group, has been implementing a “limited” customer relationship management (CRM) software project using locally developed Brains, owned by Auckland telecomms software company CommSoft.

RD1’s IT general manager, Rick Grocott, says only the contact centre has access to customer database information.

This is “not capital CRM”, he says. While the unit always intended to take the “small bite-off chunk” approach, any move to spread access to the CRM system to its farming portal RD1.com, company branches and the direct sales teams was “dependent on the merger” with Kiwi Dairies and the Dairy Board, he says.

RD1.com was built using Oracle. Kiwi Dairy’s Fencepost.com site, in comparison, was built with the New Zealand-developed Jade application tools. The two farming portals aim at the same target market but use “slightly different strategies”, says Grocott.

“In the interests of shareholders generally, the last thing we want to be doing at the moment is spending significant time, effort and money on building something that might already be either duplicated or might not fit longer term with the rest of the environment.”

Grocott says RD1 chose Brains because the company presented well, had good references and offered a “small footprint” product at low cost. One alternative was to implement an end-to-end Oracle solution including CRM but cost and project length, given the proposed merger, tipped RD1 in favour of Brains. Cost and complexity are closely linked in CRM projects, Grocott says.

RD1 has 20 Brains seats, with 12 staff using it in the contact centre, and marketing, accounts receivable and finance staff using it at times. Brains links with the organisation’s Oracle database which sits on Unix through ODBC and an Access front end. The clients use Windows 95.

CRM is “absolutely vital” in the long term for NZ Dairy Group, he says. The organisation has always had strong customer management, he says, because its customers are also its shareholders.

“We know more about the majority of our customers than almost any other business.”

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