Having just moved into a new house, my wife and I are looking to see how all our old furniture can be re-used – with her eye on the best design (she’s a designer by trade), and my eye on cost. We’ll end up somewhere in the middle I expect, slightly geared towards ‘design’ if past experience is anything to go by!

An example of Vitra design – the VitraHaus

Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra pulls off both objectives – providing customers with great design, AND managing to reduce cost in the organization, How? With Cisco of course!

Take a visit across the Swiss border into Germany and you can visit to the VitraHaus location, its flagship store. Visiting Vitrahaus is like taking a trip through design history, but it also offers the opportunity to encounter the work of leading contemporary designers. Furnishings and objects from the Vitra Home Collection are arranged in a variety of settings for both living and working.

Communications and collaboration are central to bringing these concepts to life. Vitra has been partnering with Cisco for over a decade, evolving its IT infrastructure and expanding wireless LAN deployments. The biggest concentration of wireless access points, more than 70, is at Weil am Rhein. The latest stage of that IT strategy intends to make wireless a key enabler for business transformation.

“Improving guest Wi-Fi access was very important,” says Marco Gersbacher, head of IT infrastructure services at Vitra, “while we also wanted to make sure the business was fully prepared for bring-your-own-device.

Although Vitra had no formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, a growing number of employees were using personal smartphones and tablets alongside company laptops in the workplace.

Vitra Style - style is pervasive in all that they do.
Vitra Style – style is pervasive in all that they do.

This trend created problems with device recognition and password reset requests. Certain devices could connect only over the wired network, others just to Wi-Fi, and some not at all. So, a robust BYOD framework was a strategic priority. Without visibility of devices, however, the company was unable to guarantee network performance and security.

A validated Cisco® Borderless Network design has helped enable Vitra unify access across all network domains: wired, wireless, and VPN. The solution was installed by NextiraOne and includes the following components:

“We’ve integrated ISE with Active Directory,” says Gersbacher. “Authentication takes place automatically. Users don’t have to remember countless passwords, and we don’t receive so many calls asking for support. In fact, we have complete control over who can connect to the network and what they can do.”

Vitra has gained new business benefits. Employees can stay connected wirelessly and move freely between workspaces and buildings without having to constantly re-initiate sessions and reopen applications. This new-found flexibility is helping enable sales teams to hold richer, deeper conversations.

“Before, a colleague might have been sitting at a table sharing product information on a laptop. When they took a visitor to look around the showroom, the wireless connectivity would drop out,” says Gersbacher. “Now that doesn’t happen.”

Visitors are taking advantage of wireless access to engage more intimately with Vitra products. “If visitors have questions in VitraHaus, they can take their iPhones, Androids, or other devices and sit down anywhere to view information,” Gersbacher says. “They can even take pictures or videos and share these with family and friends.”

Meanwhile, management has a real time view of vital supply chain processes such as quality assurance, stock control, and shipping. Each process can be executed faster and more efficiently thanks to digital barcode scanners directly linked to SAP applications via the Cisco wireless network.

In the future the company plans to leverage its Cisco BYOD Smart Solution with several new projects. It intends to establish a fourth wireless zone and boost sales team productivity further still with the deployment of iPads. In addition, suppliers could be set up with separate access.

So, all in all, a better experience for Vitra, its employees, customers and suppliers. Read more here.




Peter Granger

Senior Sales Transformation Manager