Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Infinite IT Solutions Inc. from Mississauga, Ontario

Describe the solution or service your provide.

Our client is a leading provider of marine dry bulk cargo handling and delivery services, and the world’s largest owner and operator of self-unloading vessels. This privately-owned Canadian-based shipping company has offices in Halifax, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Beverly, USA; Windsor, UK;, Bergen, Norway; Singapore and Sydney, Australia. With over 2,000 people world-wide,our client is one of the world’s larger shipping companies that keeps the world economy flowing.

Employees of our customer that are shipboard live in some of the harshest of conditions known to humankind. Away from their families 6-9 months of the year, the staff has always desired a way to remain connected to their loved ones in a heavy work-unbalanced lifestyle.

Our customer has tried to address the matter on several times over the years, but could never find a way to enhance the employee work-life balance without affecting the business operations. The shipping company engaged with Infinite IT to see if there was a cost-effective way to provide enhanced data services to their staff. They had tried to provide internet services over satellite connectivity, but the most staff were able to do over that was sit in the common “mess-hall” area and text-email with their loved ones.

What made your service of the highest quality? Provide measurable evidence of how you benefitted the customer’s business.

The benefits to our customer have been absolutely astonishing. By far, the biggest impact is to the people that work for our customer.

As can be imagined, there are a lot of human resource issues that a company like our customer would have, from staff claiming disability, to lodging complaints against the company for working in such a harsh environment and so forth.

Ultimately, the staff were (for the most part) unhappy. This solution has connected our customer’s staff to the real world again, having created a much better work environment, a 20 per cent reduction in employee complaints so far and staff that actually seem happier at work.

Financially speaking, Infinite IT has helped reduce lifecycle management costs by over 50 per cent, and enabled each ship to decrease delivery timelines by approximately four per cent , and decrease satellite communications by 50 per cent while increasing throughput infinitely (from 64/64 kbps on satellite to a 50/10 mbps LTE connection – the difference has been earth-shattering).

The business benefits to customer have been drastic. Most staff are saying they don’t know how they worked there Pre-Wi-Fi. By far, the biggest impact been the overall Employee Work-Life Balance to encourage better employee well being.

Describe how services were delivered in a timely fashion, or how the response to a crisis was above and beyond the usual.

Every ship had to have a comprehensive wireless survey to ensure we had 100% coverage in all areas of the ships, which meant many hours per ship was spent on advanced antenna theory to maximize antenna coverage and minimize access point requirements.

Of the 20+ ships completed to date, no two ships have been exactly the same, and Infinite IT’s staff have had to react quickly to the need. Imagine being in the middle of Thunder Bay when it is negative 25 degrees Celsius, and the ship is frozen solid in the ice and the only way to get access to the ship is via a frozen port in the middle of nowhere. Or having to get on a ship at a canal-lock when the ship has only stopped moving for less than a couple of minutes going up or down a lock, tossing all the gear and equipment aboard so that you do not impact the ship’s time, only to get done 12 hours later and be brought back to shore on an inflatable dingy while the ship is in the middle of a Lake. T

his project truly pushed our engineers to the most extreme physical tolerance along with the high-pressure of having to instinctively know what to do next without the ability to quickly “same-day drop ship replacement equipment” when in a pinch. Quality Control and the Highest Skills available were the only things that Infinite IT’s staff could do to ensure that nothing went wrong. The solution also had to accommodate any device the staff wish to use, securely, efficiently, and without any complicated steps. Infinite IT had to ensure that all Wi-Fi devices were able to connect regardless of brand, operating system, Wi-Fi type or distance from an access point. “Everything and anything has to work from anywhere seamlessly and at all times” was the requirement. Extensive testing had to occur with every imaginable device to make sure that the devices all worked extremely easy for the least tech-savvy individuals imaginable.

Infinite IT tested Apple devices (iPad, iPod, iTouch and iPhone from iOS 3 to 5), Windows Devices (Dell Latitude 10 Windows 8 Pro tablet and Lenovo ThinkPad W series with Windows 7), Android Devices (Samsung Galaxy S2 and Lenovo ThinkPad tablet) and even Blackberry devices (Torch, Bold, Playbook and the new Z10/Q10 BBOS10 series) to ensure everything worked everywhere. Testing was extensive yet proved to be successful every single time. In order to achieve timing goals, our staff were literally on stand-by 24×7 waiting for a call form a ship’s captain to inform the team 90 minutes prior to landing at a port where it will be. There were several times that the phone calls came in at 2 AM, and Infinite IT engineers had to rush to the Welland locks to board a ship.

The ships only pass through the locks for a few minutes at a time, and Infinite IT staff had to be ready to be dispatched at any time in order to meet their needs. There were two occasions that a ship was missed – one because the captain communicated the wrong time, and a second time due to extreme weather conditions. Those two ships got delayed and did not end up getting the upgrade until the end of the project once all other ships were completed. Infinite IT is also a zero-inventory partner, but did stock several product for this project.

Once desktop and server refresh were included in the project, Infinite IT worked with the desktop provider to ship the product to our offices, and our technical team pre-staged the ship equipment and had the gear on hand ready to be deployed with 2 ships equipment in reserve. Infinite IT had to do everything for the refresh including image management, data migration and hardware standardization across all ships. Thankfully Infinite IT has a solid database system in place to help manage the process and the overall project itself.

How does your service surpass competitors in meeting the needs of customers?

As the first ever start up to win the Solution Provider of the Year, Infinite IT has once again risen to the occasion and challenged the most extreme environmental and technological limits of what we do in the technology industry.

Delivering world class solutions in the most unique ways is what Infinite IT strives to bring to the market – not following status quo yet setting the bar in which the rest follow. Once again this year, Infinite IT has sought out the most unique of solutions and succeeded in delivering what will become the new global standard for employees that work on ships most of their lives.

The staff at Infinite IT literally worked in the most extreme and harshest conditions, and did so for months on end. Some evenings the staff were unable to return to a hotel room, so they would just sleep on the ships. For IT technicians, enduring this project was truly a test of skill and personality. Most of our competitors did shy away from the project citing the conditions were too harsh and would be too risky to complete.

Infinite IT rose to the challenge, and has literally gone where no reseller has ever gone before. Infinite IT continues to challenge its own capabilities, and looks forward to being at the Channel Elite Award ceremony in September 2013, hopefully as the Solution Provider of the year once again. Thank you for all you have done over the years for us CDN. We are true followers, and respect what you do for our industry and for the channel.

How does the solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
Our customer would routinely dock ships on a regular basis to allow for staff to have some personal time. Typically, the ships would dock once a month to let the staff off for 12-24 hours to connect with the outside world.

Since project completion, this has been reduced to once per quarter.

This means that ships do not have to sit idling in a port for 12-24 hours at a time, going out of their way to dock, which means less fuel is being wasted. This will have a huge impact on the environment over the long-run as it means less greenhouse gases are being burned and ships can do more with less.

There are several other ways in which the solution is improving our customer’s green efforts such as increasing their IT uptime, which means less wasted time ashore and greater time shipping product. (One of the largest inefficiencies is when a ship is taken off-line due to issues – it could take 12-36 hours to transfer cargo from one ship to another, at which point both ships are burning fuel.

The results of the repair and extra efforts to accommodate the breakdown can also cost our customer a lot of time and money as well. With the new Proactive approach,our customer will be able to mitigate 2/3 of all downtime while enjoying a much more efficient and positive online experience.

 

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  • Second, many of the mechanical and technological devices of today are much more advanced than those made 30, 20, even 10 years ago. Computers run cars, and the parts of phones, televisions and laptops are often so small that only experts can manage them. We are wary of getting in over our heads when trying to take anything apart.