Cadillac Fairview Retail Websites
"I Envision... standard website templates that can be seamlessly deployed across all of our retail property web sites, providing secure content management and an enhanced customer experience." - Ronald Larock, Chief Technology Officer
Cadillac Fairview is one of North America's largest investors, owners and managers of commercial real estate. For more than 50 years, Cadillac Fairview has been leading the way in commercial real estate with innovative design, development and management. Cadillac Fairview focuses on high quality retail centres and office properties in Canada and the United States and also oversees equity investments in real estate companies and international investment funds. With a portfolio valued at approximately $15 billion, Cadillac Fairview and its affiliates own and manage 83 properties, including some of Canada's landmark developments such as the Toronto Eaton Centre. Cadillac Fairview is wholly-owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, which invests to secure the retirement income of 264,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.
Cadillac Fairview had over 50 production websites operating on different web content management (WCM) platforms, hosted by various 3rd party organizations. In order to simplify the external web site environment, improve WCM functionality & security, leverage internal expertise & knowledge and substantially reduce operating costs, Cadillac Fairview engaged Envision IT to deploy Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 as the new standard WCM platform and host the solution internally (previously all fully managed externally hosted solution).
The Envision IT solution comprises several key components. A MOSS solution was built to host each of the retail public websites (approximately 26 shopping mall properties such as the Toronto Eaton Centre) using a single custom site template that is personalized for each site through the use of Cascading Style Sheets.
The Toronto Eaton Centre was launched in July 2008 as the first site under the new WCM platform (www.torontoeatoncentre.com). In addition to what the public sees on the site, a completely new CFPromo promotions tool was added to allow as many as 5000 mall tenants to post store promotions and job postings to the site through a workflow and approvals process that incorporates the Envision IT Extranet User Manager.
The initial WCM project focused on Cadillac Fairview’s 26 Retail Web sites bringing together many technologies to meet CF requirements: Silverlight to deliver a richer end-user experience through an interactive mall map and store finder, custom .NET programming to provide value-add marketing tools for the Retailers, and seamless integration with various CF corporate applications to keep dynamic website content up-to-date.
The Results: Tangible Benefits
ROI is approximately 3 years with hard savings of at least $500k/year as follows:
- No additional staff required to transition and maintain the WCM platform. These website costs were being indirectly funded by the CF Properties.
- Operational cost comparisons between the 3rd party fully managed service versus the CF co-hosted facility model were cost neutral, but security, performance and availability were dramatically increased for the same monthly cost.
- New website refresh and/or development requests will be significantly lower given the standard MOSS 2007 platform. CF will no longer require 3rd party vendors to do these changes on our behalf. Additionally the extra time IT staff had to get involved due to data feed integration issues & requirements have been significantly reduced.
- The old WCM solution allowed Retailers to post promotions on the appropriate CF Retail website, however the process was cumbersome and often involved assistance from CF Property & head office staff. The “Retail Promo Tool” custom .NET solution (fully integrated into the MOSS WCM solution) was redesigned to be more user-friendly and enables the Retailers to be more self sufficient. It also included new functionality that allows Retailers to post for open positions at their stores. The new Retail Promo Tool module saved between 5%-10% of staff (who assisted Retailers) time across all properties.
Envision IT was selected as the winner in the Custom Development Solution of the Year Award at the 2008 Microsoft Partner Program IMPACT Awards for work done with Cadillac Fairview on this Web Content Management System.
“As real leaders in their fields, technology partners like Envision IT continue to help customers optimize their business performance,” said Lora Gernon, Senior Director, Partner Group, Microsoft Canada Co. “Our annual IMPACT Awards celebrates top technology partners who have shown true passion through their tremendous service to customers and innovative solutions.”
The Custom Development Solution of the Year Award recognizes exceptional, innovative technology partners that focus on the development of customized solutions, web solutions, and tools built on Microsoft-based technologies leveraging the Visual Studio® and Expression Studio family of development tools.
Envision IT won best Custom Development Solution for the creation of a framework, based on the SharePoint platform, which will support all 26 Cadillac Fairview retail web sites. This solution includes a .NET interface that allows mall tenants to post content to the Website, from store promotions to job openings.
“It's a hybrid solution of a very custom piece built for that purpose, and an out of the box SharePoint for the Web content management,” said Peter Carson, Envision IT President. “It was a solution that drew on our developers past expertise with .NET and also helped develop new expertise with SharePoint.”