Following its initial digitisation measures and the expansion of its IT infrastructure, Herzog Küchen AG is now considering overhauling its ICT. The move would also rely on Swisscom’s expertise.
Text: Christoph Widmer, Image: Daniel Brühlmann,
Family-run Herzog Küchen AG has represented “Swiss kitchens with heart” for four generations. When the company moved into new offices in the completed new building in Unterhörstetten in 2016, the demands on the company’s internal IT also increased. At the time, after carefully evaluating the situation, Herzog Küchen opted for a Swisscom solution to consolidate its corporate network and connect branch offices in Schlieren, Rapperswil and Gossau to its headquarters in Unterhörstetten.
“That was the real kick-off for the modernisation of our IT infrastructure”, explains Raphael Herzog, the CFO and Head of IT at Herzog Küchen. “At the same time, we also implemented a desktop virtualisation solution for more flexible workplace deployment and migrated to Office 365, Exchange Online. Due to the increased complexity of our IT architecture, we also relied on the service model of another provider on the server side. This enabled our IT specialists to focus more on optimising the business processes.”
Since 2020, Herzog Küchen has also been using Microsoft Teams to replace parts of the old telephone system.
This was followed by further measures with which Herzog Küchen expanded its own IT infrastructure, also with a view to increasing flexibility and optimising business processes within the company. This included a cloud-based solution for recording working hours as well as Microsoft Teams, which replaced parts of Herzog Küchen’s telephone system as early as 2020 – and thus far sooner than originally planned – due to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The other, previously implemented solutions also quickly ensured that business operations could be maintained during the pandemic.
Because Herzog Küchen relied on several providers when expanding its IT, it now faces new challenges: The various service contracts will expire at different times, which will adversely affect strategic planning within the IT department because there are extremely complex dependencies and security requirements between the individual solutions and systems. What’s more, the computer-aided design (CAD) software used to draw models and execution plans for kitchens is due for renewal – with significantly greater system requirements. “Although we have consolidated our IT, we always handled the sub-areas of our infrastructure in isolation”, says Raphael Herzog. “We need a complete technological change to get away from this patchwork and give our department the ability to act.”
Raphael Herzog, Herzog Küchen CFO and Head of IT
Herzog Küchen isn't alone in facing this problem. Companies sometimes underestimate the far-reaching dependencies that using new technologies and solutions can have. “Many companies begin by outsourcing individual IT areas and workloads to the cloud and often overlook the fact that this also has an impact on basic IT, that is, on the network, workplace, mobile devices and therefore on security”, says Swisscom Solution Consultant Stefan Helfenberger.
Helfenberger is the man behind the ICT Modernisation Project 2021+, which Herzog Küchen is currently addressing with Swisscom and others. The goal of this is to hand over and outsource Herzog Küchen’s entire basic IT infrastructure to an external provider so that the company’s internal IT can focus more on its core business: manufacturing kitchens. “Herzog Küchen will continue using its internal IT department”, Helfenberger explains. “But in the future, the department will be able to support the company more with business processes in order to gain important competitive advantages.” The move is thus a basic prerequisite for increasing freedom in the IT and being ready for the future. “Our desired goal is to have IT-as-a-service from a single source, from telephone subscriptions to rented power sockets”, Raphael Herzog says.
The in-house IT at Herzog Küchen is to focus more strongly again on the company’s core activities.
To this end, Swisscom is now also working with Herzog Küchen on a proof of concept (POC) which should already determine the direction of the new IT architecture. Together, they are looking into outsourcing the CAD workstations to the public cloud so that employees can work easily from anywhere – with the greatest possible security and without high latency times, compatibility problems or production downtimes.
Swisscom is one of several providers that Herzog Küchen has approached for this mammoth project. The company has received a number of offers for different solutions, which are now being examined and compared with each other in detail to minimise the associated risk. “Even so, Herzog Kitchens and Swisscom already have a long-standing and trusting working relationship. They know the technological developments we have gone through”, Herzog says. That’s why he believes Swisscom is potentially a suitable partner for this IT replacement process.
Outsourcing the basic IT infrastructure while orienting the internal IT more strongly towards the company’s business is more than just a technological challenge. From now on, the IT staff at Herzog Küchen will have a completely new role within the organisation, moving away from pure systems engineering – which will be handled by the future provider – and towards coordination and purchasing. To do so, the Herzog Küchen IT team must understand all the business processes in detail and know how they can be optimised further with the help of technology. And more than ever, they must meet the emerging needs of employees who increasingly want to work more flexibly and use the latest technologies. Raphael Herzog has also sensed this generational shift. “I reached a point where I had to admit that I couldn’t take care of everything myself. I need people with a fresh perspective in the IT department, people who can invest that same innovation and open-mindedness into taking the business of Herzog Küchen to the next level.”
More on the topic: