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Posted: 2/19/2014
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UCB Biopharmaceutical Company Unifies Communications to Enhance Collaboration, Reduce Costs

UCB supported its global workforce with several communication systems, but the array of disparate solutions was costly and needed to be optimized. The company wanted to create a more flexible working environment, streamline collaboration, and lower costs. By deploying a unified communications environment based on Microsoft Lync, UCB has provided greater opportunity for employees to collaborate and reduced costs by more than US$150,000 a month.

Business Needs
UCB is a global biopharmaceutical company based in Belgium and listed on Euronext Brussels, with research and development operations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and more than 35 other countries. The company focuses on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic allergies.

To support a global and diverse workforce of more than 9,000 employees, distributed across multiple business units and geographic boundaries, UCB had to manage a disparate array of communication and collaboration systems. The company used telephony and conferencing systems and services from different providers in addition to messaging and collaboration solutions from Microsoft. UCB also managed more than 40 network federations inside and outside the enterprise, across business units and with vendors, partners, universities, research institutions, and other pharmaceutical companies.

While this combination of solutions allowed UCB to connect its employees, work with partners, and serve customers, it was costly. UCB wanted to unify its communications infrastructure so that it could create a more flexible working environment, better support its distributed and mobile workforce, streamline internal and external collaboration, and lower its costs. To do so, the company needed to replace and upgrade outdated systems and provide a more effective way for employees to communicate.

“We wanted a better way to communicate,” says Didier Generet, Vice President for Global IT Infrastructure at UCB. “We initiated our Smarter Way program and focused on being more efficient, being more collaborative, and looking for savings.”

UCB launched the Smarter Way program in 2011 by deploying a companywide unified communications environment based on Microsoft Lync 2010. By the end of 2012, UCB had implemented Lync instant messaging, presence, and chat, and it connected Lync enterprise voice to its legacy telephony systems.

* Lync has definitely changed communication and the shared culture at UCB. It has helped us become a more effective organization. *

Didier Generet
Vice President, Global IT Infrastructure, UCB

In 2013, UCB upgraded to the latest release of Lync and deployed Microsoft Lync 2013 and Lync Server 2013. It also deployed Unified Messaging in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 in order to add voice mail to Lync enterprise voice. By the end of 2013, UCB provided instant messaging, presence, voice mail, and web conferencing capabilities to all 9,000 employees and had rolled out Microsoft Lync Mobile to more than 3,000 users.

“Lync Mobile usage is quite easy,” says Ralph Schepke, Associate Director of Communications Systems at UCB. “People use it from their car, while traveling, or if they are late for a meeting. They can use it on their Android devices, iPhones, iPads, other tablets, and we expect to deploy Lync to Windows Phone and Windows-based tablets in 2014.”

To ease communication with people outside UCB, the company enabled Lync Federation with Skype. “Skype has drastically eased communications with our partners, vendors, and customers,” says Schepke.

In 2014, UCB intends to replace its legacy phone systems with Lync, and in January 2014, the company began a Lync Room System proof of concept in its research department. “We are already benefitting from instant messaging, presence, teleconferencing, multiparty high-definition video, voice, and Skype federation, and now Lync Room Systems with simple-to-use whiteboards. Eventually, we will use every aspect of Lync at UCB,” says Schepke.

By upgrading to the latest release of Lync and establishing unified communications throughout the company, UCB can better support its distributed workforce, reduce costs, and enable flexible, effective collaboration.

Reduced Costs, Increased Productivity
Since replacing its legacy conferencing services with Lync 2013, Lync Server 2013, and Lync Mobile, UCB has reduced web-conferencing costs by more than US$1.4 million a year. Generet and Schepke both believe that Lync will also help enhance employee productivity and indirectly contribute to increased revenue at UCB.

“With all the new functionality in Lync, we are able to work far more efficiently than we could in the past,” says Schepke. “Instead of waiting for a response to an email message, employees can see who is available and immediately reach out to their peers.”

Improved Communications
According to Schepke, Lync has become critical to business success at UCB by making communication easier for employees. He notes that by October 2013, conference usage had grown to almost 30,000 per month, and enterprise voice usage had reached almost 90,000 per month. Instant messaging usage has topped 2.4 million per month, an increase of 100 percent since mid-2011.

“We think that the overwhelming acceptance of Lync at UCB is proof that our employees consider it an indispensable communications tool,” says Schepke.

More Effective Collaboration
UCB employees use Lync enterprise voice, messaging, conferencing, and other functionalities to collaborate more easily and effectively with their colleagues inside and outside the organization. In an internal UCB survey, 88 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with Lync, 70 percent said that it helps in their day-to-day work, and 93 percent would recommend Lync to colleagues.

“Lync has definitely changed communication and the shared culture at UCB,” says Generet. “It has helped us become a more effective organization.”

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, go to:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 9000 employees

Organization Profile
UCB is a global biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs for diseases of the immune and central nervous systems. Operating in approximately 40 countries, UCB generated revenue of US$4.7 billion in 2012.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • Microsoft Lync 2013
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013

Vertical Industries
Life Sciences, Chemicals; Oil & Gas, Mining