It's all part of a radical change in the Minor Group's use of information technology.
It has decided to outsource its entire IT back-end systems and infrastructure to IBM Thailand to allow the group's own IT team to concentrate on its front-end systems, in order to create new personalised services for its many customers.
Chairman and chief executive William Heinecke said the deal involved full-scale IT outsourcing and application management services from IBM Thailand for 10 years.
This will cover core applications, infrastructure, and the whole back-end systems of the Minor Group, including those of hospitality, leisure and restaurant operator Minor International and the distributor of lifestyle products and contract manufacturer Minor Corp.
The move aims to prepare the Minor Group's IT infrastructure and management to support business expansion by enabling greater availability, flexibility and optimum efficiency. The company is planning to invest more than Bt10 billion over the next five years in acquisitions both inside and outside of Thailand. The expansion aims to ensure annual growth of 20 per cent.
"The outsourcing will allow us to enhance our IT systems and infrastructure much quicker and more cost-effectively than working on our own. It will also allow us to focus on our core business opportunities that will help us to achieve double-digit growth over the next five years," Heinecke said.
Minor International's chief information officer Neil Hampshire said the group had done an extensive analysis to identify what it needed from IT systems. Then it had developed a clear strategy and plan for outsourcing.
The outsourcing covers all of its operational and support requirements, including data centre and disaster-recovery service, network services, end-user support, application enhancement and maintenance service. It will provide greater flexibility and security for future applications.
"IBM will take care of enterprise resource planning, operational systems and back-end systems such as payroll, financial, human resources, warehousing, communication and collaboration systems as well as providing 24x7 support. The services assure us of technical support at an agreed level which will be measured against a comprehensive Service Level Agreement," Hampshire said.
A transfer period of 12 to 14 months has been provided for moving the Minor Group's key IT systems to IBM's data centre. About 40 IBM's specialists will work closely with Minor's IT staff to create ways of using IT to drive the group's competitive advantage as well as supporting its 18,000 employees in delivering excellent products and services.
Hampshire said the group would take care of its own front-end system, including point of sale, property management and customer relationship management.
"We will take care of customer databases ourselves. We will use this information by integrating our customer database across businesses, to enhance our uniqueness and the personalised experience of our customers," he said.
Minor International is Thailand's largest food-service operator, having more than 700 outlets under The Pizza Company, Swensen's, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Burger King, LeJazz and The Coffee Club brands. It is also a leading hotel operator, with 16 hotels and more than 2,400 rooms under the Marriott, Four Seasons, Anantara, and Minor International brands in Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
In addition, it is one of the largest spa operators in the Asia-Pacific region, with 23 spas.
Minor Corp is a leading distributor of international lifestyle brands in Thailand, focusing mainly on fashion, cosmetics and education and including Esprit, Red Earth, Bossini, Timberland, Charles & Keith, JeansWest, Bloom, Laneige, Tumi, Henckels, Time Life and World Book.