Avon Finds Stability with Systems Operations Suite


Avon, the company for women, is a leading global beauty company, with nearly $11 billion in annual revenue. As the world’s largest direct seller, Avon is sold through more than six million active independent Avon sales representatives. Avon products are available in over 100 countries and the product line includes color cosmetics, skincare, fragrance, fashion, and home products. Avon relies heavily on information technology systems to conduct its business, so identifying and acting on systems errors—and processing customer inquiries—in real time is absolutely vital.

Preserving Business Continuity

Operating a 24/7 business largely over the internet, this enterprise giant is absolutely reliant on its information technology systems. Its Australian office, based in Sydney, operates an IBM Power Systems server that supports all internal business applications, including customer order processing and supply chain communication. With customers and independent sales representatives scattered across virtually every corner of Australia and New Zealand, efficient systems operations and business continuity is fundamental to Avon’s success.

“Our internal computer systems have to be always up and running at their best. Sub-optimal operations have a big impact on our customer communications, logistics, and responsiveness,” said Ulrich Jensen, Solution Development Manager at Avon. “It is critically important that any systems error is identified and acted upon immediately, at any time of the day or night. This presents a vast monitoring task that has the potential to be incredibly resource-intensive and potentially difficult to manage.”

Freeing the IT Team

Halcyon’s Systems Operations Suite (Level 2) provides powerful and highly functional automated monitoring of mission-critical business applications, processes, scheduled events, and housekeeping tasks. Its automated SMS notification capabilities broadcast alerts in case of any systems error and can also initiate correction processes and log resulting actions. This reduces the burden on systems administrators by reducing late night support calls and manual troubleshooting.

“By 2004, our in-house monitoring and alert system was becoming outdated. We knew that Halcyon was a perfect match for our needs, as they specialized in IBM i support,” said Jensen. “Now, if anything goes wrong, Systems Operations Suite sends out an alert so our support team can initiate a fix immediately.” 

Once the Halcyon solution was implemented, with Jensen’s team trained and collaborating with Halcyon to create a comprehensive list of alert definitions, business disruptions from system errors ceased. In addition to monitoring IBM i, Systems Operations Suite will escalate an alert and send additional notifications until a response is logged, delivering total peace of mind and freeing the IT team for more productive projects.

“It was an easy implementation process thanks to the support provided by Halcyon,” said Jensen. “Since then, it is working perfectly. We’ve found it to be excellent technology at the right price, and it has enabled us to realize very impressive efficiencies.”

Automating Customer Service

In addition to keeping IBM i running at its best, Halcyon’s two-way SMS messaging capabilities presented Avon with another important business benefit. Almost all its business leads originate via the internet through a range of sites and each inquiry must be processed and redirected to one of 140 district managers spread across Australia.

"We receive around 1,000 inquiries every day," explaned Jensen. "Before we had Halcyon, these came to us via emails which had to be manually processed in our customer service call center." Systems Operations Suite has now fully automated this process so that every one of these internet-generated inquiries, orders, and updates are sent directly from the system to the correct district manager by SMS.

"This is incredibly valuable data that now flows directly to where it can be actioned, saving significant head office resources and time and also eliminating the risk of any human error. Occasionally, a customer may send an inquiry that the system doesn't understand, so it directs these messages to our customer service center, ensuring the correct action is always taken.

"Our customer inquiries and orders can be processed in real time, at a fraction of the cost. When you compare the cost of an SMS to the overheads of running a large call center, the value is undeniable," said Jensen.

Praising Halcyon Support

“Halcyon gave us very good support as we upgraded from our old system to the new generation Systems Operations Suite. They were very helpful, providing the initial guidance we needed to get the most from the solution, and since then it has worked without a hitch,“ said Jensen. “We highly value the personal service we receive from our contact in Halcyon’s local office, and we have great peace of mind in knowing that we have the additional support of their global technical resources, who can log into our system remotely if we ever require it.”