The '80s have been reborn in the cloud.
Jordache, the clothing brand most known for its jeans popular three decades ago, has been undergoing something of a refresh of late. It's getting a technology makeover, too, as the 400-person company moves into the modern era.
"The infrastructure [and] technology growth is the same as the brand: Coming into a new age," said Ezri Silver, Jordache's SVP of operations, in an interview. "[For] a company to be cutting edge means you're cutting edge everywhere."
A big piece of that has been a significant shift into cloud platforms, which is anchored by the trio of Google Apps, RLM's fashion-centric enterprise resource planning software, and KWI's retail management application.
Jordache's reasons for moving much of its IT needs online are sound. The business and its employees are spread around the globe; retail locations are likewise far-flung. Weaving everything together with a fragmented physical infrastructure simply doesn't make much sense these days, especially for a company its size. It makes even less sense when you consider that Jordache is not just a clothing company. Its business interests include a marina in Brooklyn, N.Y., a regional airline in Israel, and hotels and real estate around the world.
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Email, in particular, is fundamental to Jordache's daily operations, Silver said. "Email is a system that, unlike 10 years ago, is very critical. It's basically a phone, an order taker, a secretary, all in one," he said. "It is essentially the bloodline of a business and how it interacts inside and outside." The company had been using Novell GroupWise but found it was spending too much time on upgrades, hardware maintenance, and bandwidth management. "All of those issues are taken away because the ability to support that infrastructure is given over to Google," Silver said.
Google Apps held several appeals for Silver. "It had full integration with all types of devices, it was easy to deploy and access no matter where you are the in the world, and it gave our users the flexibility to interact with the business environment, especially from the communication point of view," Silver said.
He also felt costs were more transparent when the company began researching its alternatives for email and related functions in mid 2010. Silver first contacted Microsoft but found pricing problematic, noting "it was a high level of negotiation." Google won out with the no-haggle model. "They're not one of these traditional businesses that's going to make you negotiate from one point to another point, and you have to fight for every penny," he said. "Pricing was flat."
Google's APIs--and the surrounding ecosystem they fuel--were another factor. Jordache is essentially all-in with Google from a productivity, collaboration, and communications standpoint. They use Docs, Drive, Sites, YouTube, you name it. Silver likes that he can plug in admin tools like BetterCloud's FlashPanel without much pain. These are the types of tools and applications that "maybe Google themselves aren't looking to build, but they certainly give a very open infrastructure that allows for their partners to provide different opportunities to interface with their products," Silver said.
Jordache has also reaped strategic gains within its MIS/IT group, which numbers around 15 people, as a result of the company's cloud shift. "It allows us to concentrate our resources on more appropriate infrastructure needs that are customized to our business," Silver said. Those include Jordache's distribution centers, which demand IT's attention to networks, scanner functionality, and integrating the ERP platform across systems and locations around the globe.
There's another, less obvious factor in Jordache's cloud transition. A fashion business must reinvent itself to stay cool--whatever that might mean in a given year--and Silver believes Jordache as an employer must remain equally hip. The right technology enables people to get things done efficiently and effectively, sure. It can also feed an organizational mindset that uses trendy tech to keep employees engaged.
"It doesn't just mean that your designs are cool; it doesn't just mean your jeans are the latest style that everyone wants," Silver said. "It means that you're in an environment that requires every part of your company [to] reflect forward-moving opportunity. That's what consumers respond to, and that's what employees respond to."