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Bidwells IT director managing growing portfolio

Mark Chillingworth | April 12, 2013
"We are more profitable now than when we were in 2006 as we have been more efficient," says Philip Van Enis, IT director of Bidwells, a property consultancy that is coping well with the drastic slowdown the property industry has witnessed during the downturn.

Transformation through virtualisation

In the four years since the IT director joined Bidwells he has been rebuilding the company's IT as part of a major investment by the company.

"When I arrived it was a long way behind where it should be. In the last four years the big transformation has been to use the recession as a chance to catch up," he states.

"We are currently moving to desktop virtualisation, but getting it to work across the WAN is more challenging than you'd think or that the vendors would have you believe. I want to run it from the data centre, but we are doing a hybrid of virtualised desktops and apps in some cases," Van Enis explains.

Interestingly, Bidwells is not moving to thin clients as part of the desktop virtualisation plan.

"We did an extensive thin client test and there is not the cost or horsepower benefits. Some of the protocols, like for USB for example, don't work as well as you'd like.

"We went to engage with the vendors for answers about the issues, but we had to do a lot of investigations ourselves. The vendors have their ideal models and we don't fit that model well," he says of the supplier management challenges he has faced at Bidwells.

"Next year we plan a major telephony upgrade and we want something that seamlessly links mobile to the office without us having to do anything. I'm not convinced unified communications fits together that well though."

Discussing business and technology with Van Enis is interesting. He is passionate about both and in particular about the technology, but talking to him about his role reveals the real challenges IT leaders away from the capital face. It's easy to extrapolate his experiences and to imagine how this is hampering the recovery of our national economy. The onset of consumerisation is a case in point.

"There has been a massive change in technology. Organisations used to be in the driving seat, setting the technology agenda - not now. Consumers are definitely in charge, and the enterprise vendors have not caught up with that.

"We are trying to encourage the iPad for doing business. The real advantage is to sit in a client meeting and illustrate in more innovative fashion than in the past," he says of his consumerisation vision.

"Apple has been slated for being closed, but that's a good thing and it's the only one that we will support."

Valued relationship

Van Enis has a team of 15 providing service desk, infrastructure and business analysis to the company with strategy and relationship management capabilities. Fujitsu is his primary infrastructure supplier and the IT director is not faint with his praise for the Japanese giant.

 

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