Company: Princeton ConsultingCustomer: ARMSubmitted by: Princeton ConsultingDate: August 2002For the world’s leading Intellectual property provider of 16/32-bit RISC microprocessor cores, knowledge is most definitely power. Looking to provide its Partners with access to a central repository of design and fault resolution information ARM employed Princeton Consulting to create a Web-based Customer Support solution.ARM [(LSE:ARM); (Nasdaq:ARMHY)] may not sound an immediately familiar name but it is highly probable that you use a product that was enabled by the company’s leading-edge technology. When you check your schedule on a personal organiser or push the buttons on your mobile phone you are likely to be using a product that contains a chip based around an ARM® microprocessor core.
The company is an intellectual property (IP) provider that was established in November 1990 as a joint venture between Acorn, Apple and VLSI. It designs and licences power-efficient, cost-effective RISC processors, peripherals, and system-chips for international electronics companies including Alcatel, IBM, Intel, Sony, Texas Instruments and Toshiba, to use in digital electronics products ranging from digital cellular telephones and smart cards to automotive systems and game consoles. Since its opening listing on the London Stock Exchange and Nasdaq in April 1999, this award-winning company has grown at an incredible rate, entering the FTSE 100 in early 2000.
ARM’s rapid growth has prompted the company to deploy the necessary technology to ensure it can continue to provide quality support to its rapidly expanding customer base. To provide the essential external technical and implementation expertise it needed the company contracted the services of Princeton Consulting.Maintaining service levels as operations expandAs well as designing the RISC microprocessor cores used in a variety of applications including wireless, automotive, networking and multimedia devices, ARM has dedicated support and engineering divisions that provide the comprehensive, near 24×7, support required by its customers to develop these advanced and complex systems. The sheer penetration of its designs in the world’s technology market means that the company’s main support centre in Cambridge handles upwards of 400 calls a month from 35-plus Silicon partners and even more individual developers with design or product queries.When the company first began operations with just 12 staff in a barn in Cambridgeshire, ensuring that all customer queries were being dealt with, and product issues and their resolutions disseminated to all staff, was a relatively easy task. With the company now employing over 450 staff in 12 offices around the world, this informal process was rapidly becoming insufficient.
John Thompson, Manager of the Global Support Division at ARM, explained, “Increasingly our customers depend upon our designs to get their new products delivered to the market as quickly as possible, to give them a critical edge over their competitors. If they’re experiencing any development difficulties, we have to be available to provide a solution as soon as possible.”ARM had chosen to implement a technology solution that enabled it to log and track all support calls through a single, common database platform, to ensure that no query was left unresolved as well as provide staff with access to a library of recurring faults and known fixes. However, ensuring that all staff could access the solution quickly and easily from wherever in the world they were located was proving a difficult challenge.Thompson explained, “A number of our staff are always on the road dealing with customer queries or providing training. As such we can have staff dialling into the solution from anywhere in the world.
Previously, our staff were required to download two megabytes of data before they could even access the database itself – and that was costing them time and the company money. We were also concerned that, if this continued, we would not be providing our customers with the quality support on which we pride ourselves.”He continued, “Princeton Consulting was recommended to us as a company that had the in-depth technical expertise to re-engineer and solve this situation for us. When we evaluated them more closely we realised we had found the right consultancy – they impressed us with their product knowledge and their readiness to listen to our needs and understand our business objectives.”
Creating a secure, easily accessible intranet
Princeton Consulting built a custom interface to ARM’s Support solution to create a secure intranet that enables all users to access the system via a standard Web browser over dial-up and ISDN lines. As a cost-efficient method of providing easy access to the main system ARM has been able to deploy the solution broadly and effectively within the company thus providing total visibility into its Customer support activities.
ARM’s Support group accesses the solution to log and tracks every customer call and contact regarding a design or product query. These staff can also access a history of previous cases to see if a resolution to that particular issue has already been identified. In addition, sales representatives can access and interrogate the system to track all cases relating to their individual customer accounts.Should it be determined that the problem is wider than just a Support query, the Support team logs the issue within the database to be forwarded automatically to ARM’s engineering division, who also have access to the system to log and track cases. Once a fix has been found the system generates an automated notification to all relevant customer cases that a resolution is now available.
Thompson said, “With the ease of access that we now have we are able to disseminate technical knowledge and problem resolutions around the company far more extensively and quickly than was possible before. Our ability to access this information enables us to resolve issues swiftly and efficiently – and that means our clients are able to get their products to the market as quickly as possible.”He added, “Without Princeton, we would have had to consider replacing the main system to provide this ease of access. The solution they devised saved us further IT investment and substantially reduced our remote communications costs.”
Empowering customers over the Web
ARM is now looking to facilitate further access to the solution by making it available over the Internet.
In addition, the company is considering extending its CRM and e-business strategies to enable Partners and developers to self-diagnose faults and search for existing resolutions through the external Web site.Thompson said, “Empowering the customer to resolve straightforward queries themselves will facilitate their design process and free up our staff to deal with the more in-depth, complex technical issues they face. This will increase both the speed at which we respond to queries and the overall quality of our customer support, particularly as we continue to grow.”He concluded, “Princeton are on the cutting edge of e-business deployments and as such I cannot imagine that ARM would take a major technological step like this without first seeking their view on the issue. Having called upon their expertise a number of times over the past three years we have learned to trust their capability and respect their judgement.”