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DuoBad AB was founded 20 years ago by Lars Carlsson and Niklas Hult based on a simple idea: To create exclusive bathroom furniture that matched exceptional design with timeless craftsmanship. Based in rural Alsterbro in Sweden, the company achieved success through a unique formula that brought together the Småland region’s famed furniture and wood-working traditions with exclusive bathroom design. The founders share a deep concern for the environment and for creating sustainable, high quality products. This approach is also reflected in the way the company chooses its partners and suppliers - with components sourced locally from like-minded companies that share DuoBad’s high quality and sustainability standards. The team of ten employees is working hard to meet the needs of a growing business, everyone’s role is vital: from the five expert craftsman that build furniture, to the team of sales and office staff that take on numerous customer and supplier facing roles. With Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub Advanced, they have exactly the IT tools and support they need to succeed in this endeavour.
As a small business, DuoBad focusses all of its resources on delivering exceptional products and customer service. This means, however, that its IT infrastructure was never in the centre of too much attention in the company’s daily business. This changed, though, when the IT’s age and limitations started to become a constraint. Much of DuoBad’s IT infrastructure and software was reaching end-of-life: support for the existing systems was running out. DuoBad was also seeking to modernise its IT in order keep up with its growing business. Further, it should provide its employees with a modern working environment – a truly digital workplace with easy and secure access to information from wherever and whenever they needed it. The customer’s Microsoft Office solution was running towards its end-of-life as well and did not reflect those new needs anymore. For its e-mails, DuoBad was using one by its internet service provider and looking for a solution to integrate a mail server into its systems. At the same time, the company was searching for a solution that was easy to manage and able ensure protection against data loss with an automated, reliable backup solution in place.
With regard to connectivity, DuoBad struggled with an additional challenge small and medium-sized business outside larger metropolitan areas face in particular: “Our location initially didn’t have a local fibre connection. We therefore were very reliant on having a local IT infrastructure in place,” explains DuoBad CTO Rikard Karlsson. Poor connectivity could otherwise translate to interrupted, unreliable workflows, if significant amounts of data would have to be quickly accessed from clouds systems, for example. “We were relying on a local HP server, running with Microsoft Windows Server. Both hardware and software were approaching end of life, however”, says Karlsson.
With only one team member dedicated to maintaining the IT of the business, having one partner taking over responsibility for the IT and providing a fully functional, holistic solution was key for DuoBad. “We are a small, specialised company and appreciate a strong IT partner with a local service team and shared values,” says DuoBad CEO, Niklas Hult. Having a single point of contact was also important to the company as they wanted responsibilities to be bundled in one place.
The company was an existing customer of Konica Minolta, working with bizhub MFP devices for over 14 years. It was a positive relationship that had endured through much of the company’s history. During this time a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect had grown. “We have an Account Manager at Konica Minolta that we know and trust. He knows us, too, and understands our business very well”, says Niklas Hult, who also appreciated that Konica Minolta shares his company’s deep commitment to sustainability. “Konica Minolta has done a great job during time we have cooperated in the past. It is important to have this local knowledge on hand when we need to address our technical challenges.” So, when it came to finding the right partner for the implementation of the new IT solution, DuoBad relied on its existing partner Konica Minolta.
“From a day to day perspective, the technician I work with has a lot of knowledge and I have a lot of trust in him,” explains CTO Rikard Karlsson. “As he’s part of Konica Minolta, I also know that my contact can draw on this wider pool of skills and experience whenever needed and will always get back to me quickly with solutions.”
Konica Minolta was able to provide exactly what DuoBad was searching for: The IT services expert proposed Workplace Hub Advanced as a modern and future-proof all-in-one digital workplace solution that would be an ideal fit for DuoBad’s needs. By integrating the previously separate server, software, and MFP, this Workplace Hub implementation provides DuoBad with a digital workplace solution – from a single trusted supplier, just as DuoBad was aiming for. “If we encounter a challenge or have a question, I instantly know who to call,” Karlsson points out.
Following further consultation with Konica Minolta, DuoBad agreed to proceed with the implementation at the end of 2019. The solution runs a Windows Server 2019 installation to fulfil File/Print/AD server roles. In terms of security and resilience, the solution also includes Konica Minolta Remote Care Antivirus and the Acronis Backup Service. The project started at beginning of 2020 and moved into its final phase within three months.
As DuoBad faced the challenge of not yet having a fibre connection, the hybrid nature of Workplace Hub helped to address this challenge: With a hybrid solution, data that needs to be quickly and reliably accessed locally is stored on-site. At the same time, a connection to the cloud makes external access to information possible, for example from a vendor’s or supplier’s office. This is a quite common scenario for many businesses that do not have broadband connectivity. DuoBad’s situation exemplifies how many SMEs can use a hybrid solution – not forcing them to choose either an on-site or a cloud solution. In DuoBad’s case, the mission critical GARP business system, which incorporates ERP, CRM and ECM functions, remains on premise. The same goes for the company’s file and print functions.
A refresh of the company’s outdated mail system as well as Microsoft Office solution is delivered as a second phase of the project. The cloud-based Office 365 Business Premium solution that is rolled out once the fibre connection has been installed at the company premises, providing DuoBad’s team with the modern work tools the team needs in its daily work. It further runs the company’s mail servers, integrating them seamlessly with the other applications in place and replacing the mailboxes at the internet service provider. The migration to Office 365 will also give DuoBad’s employees access to improved remote working and collaborative possibilities. “Mobile access is certainly vital, as it is important to be able to work offsite and still use our main systems remotely,” explained Niklas Hult. This capability could also prove transformational. DuoBad is keen to explore new ways of working made possible by modern collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams.
Recognising the possibilities offered by Workplace Hub, DuoBad expanded the initial scope of the project to also include a remote desktop solution to empower system administrators and to facilitate offsite working. With the installation of fibre, the company is also able implement the Arconis Backup Service: a cloud-based disaster recovery solution – and a very important step for DuoBad. “Thankfully, we did not suffer a catastrophic data loss in our company’s history, yet. However, our design files, our customer, logistics, supplier and stock – all this data is absolutely business critical for us, and we simply cannot afford to lose it in case of a fire, for example,” explains Karlsson. With the disaster recovery system in place, an automated process will generate a regular backup of this critical information, making quickly accessible, if the original data is lost.
Further, thanks to Konica Minolta’s 24-hour managed IT services, the company now has a dependable solution at its disposal, ensuring smooth operations around the clock. With only one team member responsible for IT at DuoBad, this provides considerable peace of mind and greatly increases the company’s resilience. Similarly, the ability to pay for leading edge services on demand via Workplace Hub allows DuoBad to access Sophos XG Firewall as part of a monthly subscription. This world-class solution has stepped up the company’s security, minimising risks as the company’s sales force connect remotely via VPN. Threats and hidden risks can quickly be identified and neutralised, infected systems are automatically and instantaneously isolated.
Workplace Hub is now at the heart of DuoBad’s IT, integrating and maintaining all systems the company needs. Combined with Konica Minolta as a single point of contact, the company is now has an enterprise quality ‘Intelligent Connected Workplace’ at its disposal, while being able to focus its investment in staff and skills needed for the core of their business. “We are very excited to further explore the full potential of Workplace Hub,” concludes Niklas Hult.