Revlon saves $70M in IT makeover

The dilemma put in front of David Giambruno, senior vice-president and CIO of cosmetics powerhouse Revlon Inc., was could IT help sell more lipstick?

After two years developing and deploying an internal cloud and Microsoft Lync environment for close to 7,000 employees in 34 countries, the challenge has been met.

According to Giambruno, Revlon’s new IT system supports more than 500 apps, provides 99.9999 per cent uptime and delivered a whopping cost savings of $70.4 million over two years.

Microsoft Canada president Max Long  refers to Giambruno as the CIO that broke the six-nines uptime barrier.

While the cost savings or avoidance was significant, Giambruno said during Microsoft Canada’s first ever Lync conference, it’s what the new IT system was able to do for the several business unit of Revlon that’s particularly impressive.

It did sell more lipstick, Giambruno said. One of his goals was to align IT with the business units, and as a result the volume of product manufactured increased by 425 per cent. It also helped solidify the company’s main manufacturing factory in North Carolina, which currently produces 75 per cent of all Revlon products sold worldwide.

“My job is to make systems work for people, not people work for systems. I try to make it simple. At the end of the day, I make lipstick. It’s hard to say that as a man, but my IT systems should do the work for the people. We live in the information and big data age, and we needed to make that data into little bits of data so that it’s actionable for people,” Giambruno said.

His team developed an IT philosophy to take the infrastructure out of the way. “People want a tablet view,” he said.

Giambruno added that he and his team were able to provide an internal cloud solution and a Microsoft Lync environment while spending less than two per cent of Revlon’s revenue on IT.

In the midst of this IT transformation, Lync ended up become the No. 1 most used app by Revlon.

The company was dealing with an aging PBX, and deploying Lync was initially thought as way to improve communications. Giambruno said that Lync basically went “viral” from day one. “People were adopting it fast. It was like dealing crack. You could not go wrong. It went so fast,” Giambruno said.

In the last five years Revlon had 1.5 IP addresses per person. Today it’s six per person. “People are communicating everywhere,” he said.

The Revlon brand team was the first to see results, he added. The unit used Lync for new product development and to ship products all over the world much quicker.

“Lync was like magic in its simplicity. In just a couple of clicks people where having meetings without any massive infrastructure,” Giambruno said.

There are many other cost benefits a business can realize by designing a mobile work environment through a software-as-a-service solution. Scott Fleming, vice-president of business development for Calgary-based solution provider Better Workplace, said that one of his clients, a financial services company of more than 2,000 workers, saved just over $19 million in real estate costs because of solutions such as Lync.

Other areas of costs savings Fleming said are:

• Time saved from employees commuting to work
• Environmental savings
• Personal employee savings in gas, parking, car depreciation and transit

Fleming added that some of his customers are using SaaS mobile workplace environments as a recruiting and staff retention tool.

The high adoption of Lync inside Revlon also led to the company shedding more than 15 miles of cable out of its data centre. Also, during Hurricane Sandy, Giambruno was able to move Revlon’s call centre to North Carolina from the New Jersey area without any disruption of service, through Lync.

It did not stop there. Giambruno and his team were able to also consolidate more than 1,200 servers down to 85 and collapse 12 ERP systems into one. The company was also able to reduce its carbon foot print by 72 per cent inside its data centres in the last two years.

“We make lipstick, and by driving down technology the company was able to use those cost savings for the development of new products. We are not a tech company. We are in the fashion business and fashion is an unforgiving business,” Giambruno said.


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