"Thanks to a genuinely innovative partnership with Fujitsu that delivered equivalent innovation in technology and business processes, Mitchells & Butlers now has a robust and reliable platform on which to build its future"
Martin Taylor, Director for Business Change and Technology, Mitchells & Butlers
Mitchells & and Butlers is the UK’s leading restaurant and pub operator with 1,600 sites, including well-known brands such as Harvester, Toby Carvery, Browns, O’Neill’s and All Bar One. It employs 38,000 people and has annual sales of close to £2 billion.
Mitchells & Butlers is committed to delivering great service, quality and value for money for their guests. The scale of their operation is enormous – serving 130 million meals and 430 million drinks per annum.
As part of a three year technology journey, the company wanted to deploy flexible solutions that would help drive efficiencies in both internal back-office functions and guest-facing services, as well as create a platform to deliver new guest-focused services. At the same time, there was an expectation that the company could cut overall IT costs significantly, improve the agility of its IT and introduce a flexible model to manage the cost base in line with the size of the business.
“Our main objective was to maximise the efficiency potential of our business, particularly in the restaurants and bars where we serve guests,” explains Martin Taylor, Director for Business Change and Technology, Mitchells & Butlers. “By replacing an outdated till-based network with high-speed broadband coupled to innovative cloud-based services, we dramatically improved everything from internal ordering and stock management processes to the overall guest experience at our 1,600 sites nationwide.”
Crucially, the project was designed around business outcomes, rather than technology – a key factor in ensuring that the company can introduce new products and services without the need for significant investment in technology upgrades.
In May 2011, Mitchells & Butlers engaged in an outsourcing project with Fujitsu that was designed to deliver these very specific business outcomes. The project consisted of two key phases – delivery of a superfast broadband network to the company’s 1,600 businesses, and the migration of old and inefficient applications to a new, virtualised data centre environment.
The second component, the migration of 85% of the business applications to a virtual environment in a new data centre, was also completed on time in March 2012. The remaining 15% of applications moved to a new physical infrastructure at the same time. Fujitsu migrated 40 business-critical applications and 44 terabytes of live data to a private cloud in the new data centre over the course of a single weekend, with all applications available to staff the following Monday. Mitchells & Butlers’ application portfolio now largely runs in virtual environments, which means they can pay for IT on a utility-based, pay-as-you-go billing model.
“These moves were technically and logistically complex, involving the migration of significant numbers of applications and volumes of data over the course of a single weekend, but the entire migration process happened with no disruption to business at any of our sites,” adds Taylor. “Every pub continued to trade, serve customers and process payments smoothly. This is the real measure of the success of the project; the fact that nobody noticed such a major transition indicates just how well-designed and well-executed the entire project was.”
With the introduction of the new, superfast up to 24MB broadband service, all 1,600 Mitchells & Butlers pubs can also introduce many new services to guests, such as free Wi-Fi and local promotions, giving an additional reason to visit, encouraging repeat visits and improving the overall guest experience. At the same time, it enables the delivery of content-rich training programmes and other services to all 38,000 Mitchells & Butlers staff, without impacting on critical business applications or processes.
“Thanks to the flexibility and agility offered by Fujitsu’s cloud technology, we can design and trial new applications in weeks rather than months, ensuring that new ideas can be tested and deployed much faster than was previously possible,” comments Taylor. “That will enable us to offer many new services such as electronic order capture, table booking and guest enquiries, at minimal cost and without the need for further substantial investment in technology.”
The first phase of the project, delivery of superfast network services via high-speed broadband, was completed to schedule in November 2011, with all of Mitchells & Butlers 1,600 businesses nationwide switched over to the new service with no interruptions to service. A further benefit is that Mitchells & Butlers’ core business applications now run at least 10% faster than their predecessors. Performance improvements in back-end and warehouse applications are even more significant, typically between 20 and 30%. This enhanced performance is combined with greater service availability, which is consistently higher than the defined service levels, meaning fewer interruptions to the business, less staff downtime and happier guests as a result. This all contributes to a more efficient business.
“While the technology design, methodical planning and performance metrics underlying the success of this project are outstanding, we believe that the way in which the project was managed by both parties, and the exceptional relationship that developed between us as a result, were as important in ensuring that the project was a success,” concludes Taylor. “Thanks to a genuinely innovative partnership with Fujitsu that delivered equivalent innovation in technology and business processes, Mitchells & Butlers now has a robust and reliable platform on which to build its future.”
The result of this work is a radically new and improved IT infrastructure underpinning Mitchells & Butlers’ business, which is already delivering substantial and measurable benefits. The company can now launch innovative customer-centric products and services quickly and easily thanks to a highly efficient on-demand computing model; applications run faster and more cost-effectively; and critically, the company now has guaranteed service availability, ensuring that its business runs smoothly across all of its restaurants and pubs.
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