Steel & Tube chooses Microsoft Surface Pro for modern customer engagement

With iconic New Zealand company Steel & Tube setting about modernising its back-end systems and reinventing how it works with people across the country, it has selected Microsoft Surface Pro devices supplied by Acquire Global to simultaneously smarten up frontline staff engagements with customers. The selection of the devices comes after a comprehensive examination of available options and a successful pilot demonstrating how Surface Pro features including cameras, built-in connectivity and digital styli make on-the-go work more convenient, efficient, and downright impressive.

Established in 1953, Steel & Tube Holdings Limited (S&T) produces, imports, distributes and sells a wide range of products for the construction industry. Its product ranges include fasteners, structural steel, fencing and sheet metal, architectural stainless, pipes and supports, roofing and cladding, and more. Steel & Tube offers expertise across the construction industry and takes pride in helping partners nationwide create better projects and build better outcomes. The company is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange under the ticker STU.


The route to Microsoft Surface was a perhaps unusual one for S&T, relates the company’s Head of Service and Platform Delivery Matthew Rangiwahia. “It actually starts with a programme of modernisation we’re currently undertaking. As a company that’s been around for a while, a lot of our technology has been too. We’re in the midst of a strategy of delivering greater service to customers and as part of that we’re in the process of moving to a new Customer Relationship Management solution.”

As a predominantly Microsoft shop, it’s no surprise that the selected solution is the vendor’s Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. “While that takes care of the back end and gives us the ability to accurately and comprehensively manage customer interactions, we also wanted to give our account managers the ability to interact then and there, while they are with the customer, and accelerate and enhance every engagement by putting everything at their fingertips.”

Where account managers had previously used laptops, Rangiwahia says shortcomings were apparent. “Getting connected via mobile hotspots was clunky and sometimes difficult for our team members. Then there was the interaction with clients; a laptop isn’t the easiest device to show catalogues, share products and engage effectively with your customer,” he explains.


There is no shortage of device options available on the open market, most of which run Microsoft’s celebrated Windows operating system. Rangiwahia says the company looked at multiple options – including, even, Apple’s iPad - before settling on the Intel-powered Surface Pro. After all, there are very few enterprise software vendors taking care of the back end capable of delivering not only the operating system, but the device too - a unique value proposition which didn’t go unnoticed by the S&T team.

“Other advantages include the Surface Pro’s capability as both a laptop and a tablet, easily switching between the two making it ideal in both the office and on the road,” says Rangiwahia. “We’ve also equipped them with data cards, so getting connected is instant and reliable, as easy as turning the device on. That means our people connect with no fuss right in front of the customer. And that means a superior customer experience.”

He stresses that in its choice of the devices, S&T wanted to be sure to use the special features available which go beyond the built-in SIM cards for internet access. These features include the stylus for note-making and highlighting the benefits of S&T products directly on catalogues, taking and uploading photographs of client sites and situations, and even taking customer signatures for order processing on the spot. “As a result, training is an integral part of the Surface rollout, something Microsoft itself is providing us with.”

The combination of Intel and Windows, adds Rangiwahia, is well-recognised for its broad compatibility with existing systems and software, and complements Steel & Tube’s move towards standardisation in its technology environment.

As an authorised Microsoft distribution partner, Acquire facilitated the purchase and delivery of the Surface Pro devices, seamlessly facilitating the delivery of all support and configuration services. The result is the right devices available to Steel & Tube personnel complete with the applications and services necessary to get to work.


To date, the pilot has involved around 10 S&T staff members, all of whom are impressed by the device and its flexibility in handling hybrid work; in fact, says Rangiwahia, at least one of his managers is reluctant to part with the device at any time. This has resulted in an order for a total of 112 Microsoft Surface Pros, which Acquire Global has imaged with the company’s Standard Operating Environment, ready for deployment. “We’re probably about a month out,” says Rangiwahia.

Having tested the Microsoft Surface Pro himself, he says his impressions are of quality in design and build, delivering a superior user experience. “Using the stylus and seeing how easily it switches between laptop and tablet makes for a great device. Probably the big thing for our staff members is going from computer to tablet, and also taking advantage of this feature and others like the camera. That’s what we’ll hone in on in our training sessions. We really want this to be about more than ‘a better laptop’, because the Surface offers potential which can enhance productivity and job performance. We want to make the most of what it offers, and the pilot has demonstrated the potential.”

Suffice to say, Rangiwahia confirms, S&T is satisfied it has made the best choice for its people. “We can clearly see that the Surface Pro is an invaluable tool which will play a key role in delivering a superior customer experience by bringing the information in Microsoft Dynamics CE right to where it matters and helping us deliver consistently better interactions with customers.”


Don't miss out, subscribe today!

Subscribe to receive news and special offers.

Have feedback?
Need help?