Autofix bases future strategy on network and cloud
Published on 13/08/2021 in Customer Stories
The automobile sector is evolving fast, especially with the arrival of hybrid and electric vehicles. Autofix is ready with a future-driven strategy. Network and cloud have therefore been factored in to play a key role.
Autofix offers a wide range of car parts, tools and products for garages, body shops and the automotive industry. The roots of the company lie in Jean-Pierre and Christine Declercq's shop in Kuurne, which was established in the late 1980s. In 2017, the couple's three sons took over the business. They decided to go for economies of scale. In recent years, Autofix has grown into a company with 96 employees and eleven retail outlets.
To adequately support the rapid expansion of the company, Autofix started looking for a new ERP environment. “The choice fell on the Dimasys package from Infomat”, says manager Christophe Declercq. “But equally important was to first think carefully about how we would approach the underlying IT infrastructure.” At Autofix, the number of stores is steadily increasing. It is important for the company that it can quickly connect a new store to its ERP platform.
We support the growth of Autofix with a cloud-first strategy: applications in the cloud are easy to scale and manage.
Christophe Declercq, manager of Autofix
Autofix had already previously fine-tuned the connectivity of the company together with Proximus. The contact with Proximus led to IT partner Conxion. “In the end, the combination of the two made the difference,” said Christophe. In consultation with Infomat, Conxion built an ERP test set-up on Microsoft Azure. “That went very smoothly and laid the foundation for Autofix's current cloud-first strategy,” says Kristof Vansteeland, Executive Business Manager at Conxion. “Choosing the cloud offers Autofix the opportunity to scale the ERP solution, while keeping its management and IT security central and simple.”
Office 365 and Teams for hybrid working
The strategic choice of the cloud was not entirely new, because Autofix had already started using Office 365. “During the lockdowns, that has helped us enormously,” Christophe explained. “We were able to quickly switch to working from home, while we could also easily meet remotely with Teams.” An additional advantage of Office 365 is that it allows Autofix to switch quickly. “We always have an overview. It's very easy to add a new employee to the platform. In a company that is growing fast, that's a must.”
Overview of company network via the cloud
To ensure that everything runs safely, Autofix relies on Cisco Umbrella. This solution ensures the security of the entire company network. “We maintain an overview of the network via a portal in the cloud,” Christophe continued. Here too, Conxion acted as a unique point of contact for the company. Step by step, Conxion has renewed the infrastructure in all branches. New cabling, new firewalls and switches were installed everywhere.
Our industry runs on volume. That's why we are expanding with new stores, which we need to be able to integrate quickly into the company network.
Christophe Declercq, manager of Autofix
Right partners determine success
This exercise also illustrates nicely how an efficient triangular relationship is always created between Autofix, Proximus and a Proximus partner. “Autofix often had a fairly clear trajectory in mind, but the company didn't yet know in real terms which partners it would choose to develop it with,” says Gert Vanackere, Enterprise Account Manager Flanders at Proximus. “From our broad partner network, we always put Autofix in touch with the right party: Conxion for the IT part, InterIT for telephony and Vandenabeele for support around mobile devices.”
Proximus likes to act as the glue that holds it all together. “Everything stands or falls with good communication,” Gert continued. “Together with our partners, we put the customer first. It's about seeing customer support as a common goal.”
The outcome of that exercise provided Autofix with a secure network and the choice of the cloud, which the company is now using to further streamline its internal operations. “Ultimately, this also ensures that we can serve our customers more efficiently.” The network remains essential for the further expansion of Autofix, especially in terms of the digital future. “We are working hard on a new webshop”, they said. “Customers will have personalized access where they can place and track orders, view their order history, and so on.”
With the webshop, Autofix is taking a future-oriented approach. “There is clearly a consolidation movement going on in our industry,” said Christophe. “It's about volume. We are responding to that with new stores.” Soon, the emergence of hybrid and electric vehicles will also change the profile of Autofix's customers. “Car brands are going off the idea of large chains, which will only increase the importance of the non-brand-related garage in the future. So we want to be a one-stop shop for that universal garage mechanic, in the stores, but also digitally.”
Christophe Declercq studied economics at KU (Katholieke Universiteit [Catholic University]) Leuven. Alongside his two brothers, he runs Autofix.
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