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Moving Forward

UniGroup Inc. develops a mainframe-based Web tool to create a more flexible business model.

UniGroup Inc. develops a mainframe-based Web tool to create a more flexible business model.
CIO Randall Poppell says the in-house application keeps UniGroup nimble. Photo courtesy of UniGroup.

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Customer: UniGroup Inc.
Headquarters: Fenton, Mo.
Business: Moving and logistics services
Challenge: Responding more rapidly to changes in the marketplace and creating greater control over pricing
Solution: Building a mainframe-based Web solution to allow its independent sales representatives to more quickly develop quotes and modulate pricing
Hardware: An IBM System z10 Enterprise Class
Software: DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Content Manager and a host of IBM WebSphere solutions

“Nimble” has become a hot term in today’s business world, but it’s not just jargon. Organizations in many sectors have embraced the concept, realizing that to remain competitive they must move quickly and innovate.

Many off-the-shelf tools help businesses improve flexibility and stay competitive, but in some cases the tools on the market don’t meet the needs of the business. This is especially true in niche business environments. Retailers, for example, can use plug-and-play tools to create very efficient supply chains from manufacturers and distributors to point of sale, but other industries have more unique business needs.

UniGroup Inc., a $1.6 billion transportation and relocation services company, owns the nation’s top residential, commercial and logistics moving companies, including United Van Lines and Mayflower. It doesn’t have the luxury of using shrink-wrapped IT solutions for its core business. Even if it did, those solutions might need to be heavily modified to best fit the company’s internal workflow. That’s why UniGroup developed its own solutions, including its recent Quotes-To-Go sales-management tool.

Randall Poppell, CIO with UniGroup,explains: “This tool has given the company the edge it needs to continue to grow in a highly competitive marketplace. We need to be able to effectively manage customer demands with available capacity. By reengineering our sales-support tool, we’ve achieved those objectives and will become much more nimble.”

“This tool has given the company the edge it needs.” ­—Randall Poppell, UniGroup CIO

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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