TNT: How turnaround tools like Salesforce make a firm more buyable

TNT’s adoption of popular cloud-based customer relationship management software has helped make it a more attractive acquisition target, its CIO believes.

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TNT’s adoption of cloud-based CRM and app development tool, Salesforce, has helped make it a more attractive proposition for potential buyers, its CIO believes.

The parcel delivery firm is in the middle of a business turnaround after it suffered a blow when the European Commission put the brakes UPS’ attempt to buy them in 2010. Left as a standalone firm, it needed to keep stakeholders happy and appointed a new chief executive to turn the business around.

With a new transformation plan in tow, IT will be at the core of TNT’s attempts to return to profitability, underpinned by an ongoing Salesforce implementation. It is this plan, named ‘Outlook’, that pricked the ears of rival firm FedEx, which submitted a bid for TNT after learning of the program.

“They are buying that plan [Outlook]. Part of that plan - from an IT point of view - is Salesforce,” TNT’s CIO Phil Parkin told ComputerworldUK.

While its bid is yet to be accepted, it is more likely the European Commission will play ball as the firm’s footprint is smaller than UPS and less of a threat to competition.

Improving customer service

Customer service is TNT’s selling point in a saturated, highly competitive market. Once innovators in its industry with the creation of first day delivery, for example, TNT can only differentiate from its rivals through impeccable, reliable deliveries and customer service.

Parkin said: “We need to be a technology company that delivers parcels but we are not there yet. There are so many people that move parcels - everyone has caught up where we innovated - so now it is all about customer experience...If we don't get it right, we would have to stop.”

To provide this seamless service - like online self-serve and simpler tools to let customers help themselves online - it has been deploying the salesforce platform as its CRM and to create customer-facing apps. It first deployed thirty licenses in 2007 and now has 550 users on Sales Cloud and plans to move at least 300 more by September.

It has consolidated 12 disparate systems after drawing up a proof of concept with the vendor, creating three demonstration videos that were specific to TNT and taking them to the board - a sea change from the usual Powerpoint presentation.

So far, Parkin said, TNT has seen a reduction in call centre times due to increased productivity and better knowledge of the customer through the Salesforce CRM. The call centre takes on average 16,000 calls a day, Parkin said, and on average call length has reduced by “at least fifteen seconds.”

It has identified numerous legacy processes causing inefficiency and has increased upselling during interactions with customers.

Most surprisingly, Parking found, was that onboarding employees was simple enough to shave the usual five days of IT training down to one.

Working using an Agile method was challenging, Parkin admitted. “We set very hard targets, a six month project was reduced to four and we had to deliver. When we realised we were starting two months late, we really had to ring fence the team.”

Deal with HP

TNT have also signed a deal with HP to create a hybrid cloud environment  using both traditional hosting services and HP Helion Managed Private Cloud, providing infrastructure as a service resources based on the OpenStack open source cloud management platform, a contract believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. 

In addition the firms signed a five-year application management deal with Indian outsourcer Infosys, and a managed cloud-based unified communications deal with Verizon Enterprise Solutions earlier this year. 

TNT runs mostly on SAP, with an Oracle database and in-house core transport network for operations as well as a "myriad" of glue like applications developed in house, Parkin added.

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