Energizer Holdings is a global consumer goods company with business operations in 165 countries. In 2005, Energizer implemented the dedicated version of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a suite of hosted communication and collaboration tools and services. As part of its ongoing commitment to creating a productive mobile workforce, Energizer looked for ways to increase mobility and enhance communication. Because so many mobile workers were still dependent on desk phones for receiving calls and voice messages, Energizer decided to consider new technologies that would free them from their desk phones. Energizer decided to deploy the voice over IP (VoIP) capabilities of Microsoft Office Communications Online. Using the hosted voice capabilities, Energizer expects to retire many of its aging PBX systems and help its workforce to be truly mobile.
Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Energizer Holdings manufactures dry cell batteries, flashlights, and personal care products. Its global operations span five continents and it conducts business in 165 countries. The corporate IT division at Energizer constantly looks for new ways to get more out of technology and believes that technology innovation can help expand its reach and reduce its time to market.
In 2005, Energizer partnered with Microsoft to implement a communication and collaboration solution that would help it become a more productive and responsive global enterprise. Energizer deployed the dedicated version of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which delivers a set of messaging and collaboration solutions hosted by Microsoft. By deploying a hosted solution, Energizer provided its workers with capabilities and applications they did not have before, such as:
- Microsoft Desktop Management Service. Energizer was able to streamline the number of applications that workers use from 300 down to 14 core applications.
- Microsoft Exchange Online. Energizer deployed both Exchange Server Online and Microsoft Office Outlook–based e-mail, so that its employees could take advantage of rich messaging capabilities. It is currently upgrading to Exchange Server 2010.
- Microsoft SharePoint Online. Energizer has moved its file shares and intranet sites to SharePoint Online, reducing the burden on its IT team and increasing information availability for its employees. IT plans to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 as soon as it is available.
- Microsoft Office Communications Online. Energizer employees use instant messaging and presence capabilities to communicate in a more timely and effective manner.
Even with the benefits that Energizer currently experiences with the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite deployment, the company continues to look for innovative technology to help expand its business and help its employees be more productive. One area where it believes it can improve is voice communications. With 81 locations worldwide, most locations have their own private branch exchange (PBX) systems; they have their own voice-mail systems as well. The PBX systems are expensive to operate and maintain, as John Tschannen, Director of IT and User Services for Energizer, explains: “PBX systems cost a fortune to maintain and even more to replace when they get old. We have a number of systems that are near the end, so we were looking at alternatives.”
Besides the cumbersome PBX systems, another challenge Energizer faces is the constantly evolving mobile workplace. With this culture shift, employees that used to be located in an office with a PBX system are now more mobile and their demands for mobile communication have increased. “The office phone has always been a problem for mobile employees,” explains Tschannen. “People can access their e-mail and SharePoint sites from anywhere, but they have no way to answer their desk phones. They have to take calls and check voice mail from their desk phones and their mobile phones, which creates extra work.”
Energizer wanted to find a progressive solution to meet its voice communications challenge. The company could see that voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was the next wave for office communication, so it turned to Microsoft to see how it could best use its current online communications services while upgrading its voice communication capabilities.Solution
After determining that VoIP would be the best solution to help address its aging PBX systems and mobile workforce’s demands, Energizer decided that it would take advantage of hosted voice capabilities from Microsoft based on Office Communications Online. “We have been early adopters for all of the Microsoft Online Services,” says Tschannen. “We could see that VoIP was the way things were going in terms of voice communications, and we were excited to learn that Microsoft would be able to provide this capability.”
||Our goal in the long term is to replace many of the PBX systems. The enhanced voice capabilities simplify everything, cost less, and give people more functionality. I don’t see a downside.
Director of IT and User Services, Energizer
Energizer enlisted Global Crossing to enable VoIP connectivity for Office Communications Online using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking services. Global Crossing’s SIP Trunking service portfolio was an excellent match for Energizer’s requirements for providing enterprise-quality VoIP services with reliability and security while maximizing savings on overall telephony costs. Global Crossing SIP Trunking can provide cost savings by helping to eliminate gateways and costly ISDN facilities, and by maximizing bandwidth utilization in a converged IP environment. Global Crossing worked with Energizer and Microsoft to tailor and deploy a SIP Trunking corporate solution which included two services: Outbound Long Distance service and Local Inbound Direct Inward Dialing (DID) service, which allows employees to receive calls from outside the corporate network and follows employees anywhere they have a PC and IP connection.
The latest version of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite expands voice capabilities beyond peer-to-peer to any public switched telephone network (PSTN), meaning that Energizer employees can make calls to and receive calls from any phone through a VoIP connection on the desktop. Because Energizer has also deployed the latest version of Exchange Online, employees can also take advantage of rich voice-mail features such as Voice-Mail Preview, which converts voice-mail messages to e-mail that workers can access and respond to through Outlook on their desktop or any mobile phone with ActiveSync connection, or through a browser using Outlook Web App. Energizer can also enable employees to receive calls through Microsoft Office Communicator on both their computers and their mobile phones.
Energizer will also provide employees with the ability to conduct multiparty audio and video conferencing, as well as multiparty desktop sharing. “We think the multiparty audio conferencing could help us cut down on our current service, at least. We already do many of our meetings through Office Communicator, and we use Office Live Meeting for meetings with people outside the company,” explains Tschannen.
Energizer will begin deploying the enhanced voice capabilities to its workers in the first quarter of 2010. It will roll out the technology gradually, beginning with specific sales groups, and offer training to ensure a high adoption rate.
Setting up for deployment of the new voice capabilities was easy. “Microsoft arranged the voice connection for us in Seattle; we just set up a contract and billing,” says Tschannen. “And we didn’t have to do anything special with our voice carrier to make the transition.”
Energizer plans to phase out older technologies that are costly or slow down communications. “Our goal in the long term is to replace many of the PBX systems. The enhanced voice capabilities simplify everything, cost less, and give people more functionality. I don’t see a downside,” says Tschannen.Benefits
By partnering with Microsoft and taking advantage of hosted solutions, Energizer has been able to keep costs to a minimum while ensuring it has the latest technologies that keep its mobile workforce productive and satisfied. Using the VoIP capabilities of Office Communications Online, Energizer has been able to increase mobility, reduce costs, and reduce maintenance and administration.Increased Productivity and Mobility
Employee productivity has been the main motivation for many of the progressive changes Energizer has made in the last few years. Enhanced communication has been key to the mobilization of its workforce. “We have a lot of work-from-home and flex programs,” explains Tschannen. “We believe at least twenty percent of our workforce will immediately benefit from these enhanced voice services.”
By taking advantage of the hosted voice service, the company can ensure that employees are truly mobile, especially with rich voice capabilities like Voice-Mail Preview. “It’s a huge benefit that people can read voice mail and respond whenever they want and don’t have to call in to retrieve messages,” says Tschannen.Reduced Costs
Although not a primary goal, Energizer will use the voice service to further reduce costs by replacing aging PBX systems. It can also consolidate remaining systems, reducing expensive maintenance costs. “We have a lot of small sales offices with expensive PBX equipment for salespeople who are rarely in the office to use it. Microsoft Unified Communications with softphone-based VoIP makes more sense than a traditional setup,” says Tschannen. “We expect to see long distance savings, and savings on PBX hardware and maintenance.”
As Energizer eliminates its PBX systems, it will see a reduction in maintenance, as many tasks are handled by Microsoft as part of the hosted environment. Eliminating outdated voice-mail systems attached to each PBX will further reduce the need for maintenance, because voice mail will be provided as part of the Online Service.
PBX systems require frequent maintenance done onsite by local teams and Energizer looks forward to retiring its older systems and consolidating others. “People move around all the time, and with the PBX systems, we had to have someone there to manage the accounts. With a hosted voice service, user moves are done in software rather than requiring an on-site technician,” explains Tschannen.
By taking advantage of Microsoft hosted voice communications, Energizer confirms its commitment to offering the most progressive technology to its employees, helping them expand their global reach.
Microsoft Online Services
Microsoft Online Services are business-class communication and collaboration solutions delivered as a subscription service and hosted by Microsoft. With these offerings, customers can cost-effectively access the most up-to-date technologies and immediately benefit from streamlined communications, simplified management, and business-class reliability and security features. For IT staffers, Microsoft Online Services are backed by strong service level agreements and help reduce the burden of performing routine IT management, freeing up time to focus on core business initiatives.
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