The Hong Kong fast-food chain is busy spicing up its image with a unified communications system
Fast-food chain operator Fairwood Holdings has started a sweeping revamp of its information technology infrastructure as it also looks to finish a corporate re-branding programme this year.
The three-year IT systems overhaul is expected to help anchor the company's services expansion strategy in Hong Kong and the mainland, where it planned to have 30 outlets in the next three years.
Fairwood executive director Ng Chi-keung said: 'We want to improve our fundamentals and get ahead of the competition.
'That is why we are committed to using the most advanced technologies to enhance business operations and improve efficiency.'
Fairwood, which runs one of Hong Kong's largest fast-food networks, is moving to replace several ageing proprietary technologies used in its back-office operations. It has already adopted an advanced point-of-sale set-up at all of its outlets and started work on an enterprise resource planning system from SAP.
But at the centre of this IT re-engineering effort is the implementation of a unified communications infrastructure from Cisco Systems at Fairwood headquarters in North Point.
That internet protocol (IP) backbone - consisting of Cisco routers, catalyst switches, a unified call manager system and unity unified messaging set-up - links Fairwood's 79 outlets in Hong Kong, its Shenzhen office, and six restaurants and four canteens in Guangdong.
Cisco managing director for South China operations Fredy Cheung Sze-wah said: 'Fairwood is the first company in Hong Kong's retail food market to deploy an end-to-end IP-based solution to replace a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) phone system.'
Mr Ng said the company spent about $1.5 million on the Cisco hardware package, which included 105 Cisco unified IP phones.
'Our existing PBX had been in use for 10 years. It was time for us to make the move to a new, cost-efficient network that would offer the advanced features we wanted,' Mr Ng said.
He estimated Fairwood would achieve annual cost savings of about 15 per cent by moving to an IP-based communications system, with more voice calls and fax transmissions to and from its outlets and partners made through broadband internet, rather than fixed-line connections.
The IP infrastructure enables Hong Kong-based Fairwood employees to simply key in extension numbers to reach their colleagues on the mainland, compared with the previous expensive practice of dialling long distance to connect to a fixed-line phone number.
It also simplified network operation and maintenance through a tightened integration of voice and data applications. Fairwood will start to implement the Cisco IP Phones at its restaurants in Hong Kong and the mainland over the next two months to improve communications.
The Cisco unified communications system also enables Fairwood's IT team to add applications, such as a customer catering hotline, before and during festive seasons like Christmas and the Lunar New Year, without the need to call on external service providers to set up phone connections.
Mr Ng said: 'We don't know how much business we have lost to the competition during previous festive seasons because we did not have the efficient voice mail and call-routing capabilities we have now.'
Fairwood also planned to add the Cisco IP phones' broadcasting feature for swift internal communications in the company.