Partner relationships provide an edge.,
When Starkey joined the Christy Sports leadership team in 2020, he brought with him 35 years in retail with 20+ years of experience as a CIO, a cloud-first mentality — and a strong belief in partner relationships. He recognized the scale of the ongoing transformation efforts and saw an opportunity to work more strategically with technology providers.
By this time, Christy Sports had begun to make the transition to digital tools, including Outlook and Teams through Office 365, led by CFO Lindsay Goszulak. However, the IT team relied on a variety of vendors for products and licensing. They often purchased devices on an ad hoc basis through online retailers such as Amazon or eBay.
One of Starkey’s first initiatives as CIO was to optimize the IT supply chain. In his analysis, he identified Insight as one of the existing vendors with whom he felt he could build a stronger, more consolidated relationship. “I said, I’ll give you three months to become our primary, preferred source for all commodities, laptops, servers, hardware and so on.”
At the end of the trial period, a QBR revealed Insight had performed well and soon became the preferred vendor for all devices, IT services and Microsoft licensing. Over time, Insight cloud experts were brought in to support ongoing Azure migration efforts, and by May of 2021 when Christy Sports was ready to execute their vision for a fully digital rental experience, Starkey knew he had established a partnership that could make it a reality.
Ramping up a new rental solution
While Christy Sports had made significant progress toward their broad transformation goals, particularly in the area of e-commerce, Starkey recognized a gap in the digital journey. “Until last winter season, if you rented your skis from one of our stores, you would have been handed a clipboard,” he said. “We thought, how can you create this great customer experience if your associates are still doing things on paper?”
The vision became to extend digital capabilities to the rental process, including online reservations, in-store waiver and compliance agreements, and point-of-sale integration.
“But at the time, we didn’t have the skill sets internally to do what I wanted to do. This needed to be an enterprise-level system that allowed customers to rent skis from one store and return to another. In order to accomplish that, we needed all our locations to have access to the database,” Starkey explained.
So, he and his team turned to their now established IT partner for support. A team of Insight experts was brought in to spin up the Azure environment, establish Azure VPN Gateways and set up the Active Directory. In addition to building out a secure cloud database, each storefront also needed to be fully equipped with Microsoft Surface tablets, rugged equipment scanners, printers, servers and connectivity solutions. Insight procured and deployed an average of 200 of each of these devices per store — amidst ongoing global supply chain disruptions.