Etisalat Nigeria was confronted with a rapidly escalating travel bill as staff traveled between its various offices spread across the country to attend meetings. The company wanted a teleconferencing solution to obviate the need for travel and
reduce operational costs. Microsoft Lync 2010 offered the functionality that was required while integrating with the telco’s existing Microsoft’s Productivity Suite.
Nigeria is a vast African country, comprising 36 states and Abuja, its federal capital territory, with a population of 162.5 million – the largest population on the continent. Africa is experiencing a telecommunications boom, and this vast and widespread
population represents a ripe market for communications and telephony services.
Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) acquired a Unified Access License from the Nigerian Federal Government in 2007. Etisalat, the Middle East’s leading telecommunications operator which operates in 15 countries in the Middle East, Africa
and Asia, acquired a 40% stake in EMTS and is now the operator of the license. Full commercial operations began in October 2008.
“In the past five years, Etisalat Nigeria has grown rapidly to 15 million subscribers, making up about 15% of the Nigerian telco market,” says Adedipo Olagbegi, Head of IT Technical Infrastructure at Etisalat Nigeria. “We have two offices in Lagos, one in
Abuja and another ten to fifteen across the country.”
While this network of offices grants Etisalat the necessary access to Nigerian citizens all around the country, it was making collaboration between the various teams and managers a complex and costly exercise. Widespread presence was needed for growth, but
growth was being hampered by the costs associated with maintaining contact between these numerous locations.
“We were spending a significant amount of money on travel for our teams spread in lots of locations across the country,” says Olagbegi. “We needed a tool for collaboration that would allow us to collaborate effectively without needing to travel.”
||“It’s even being used by people in the same offices to communicate because of its functionality and ease of use.”
| Adedipo Olagbegi
Head of IT Technical Infrastructure
Essentially, Etisalat Nigeria needed an enterprise telecommunications solution that would support videoconferencing, and do away with the skyrocketing costs associated with business travel. Olagbegi and his team investigated the various offerings on the
market, and settled on Microsoft Lync, as a powerful enterprise solution that includes video and audioconferencing, application and desktop sharing, instant messaging and presence, and telephony.
One of Lync’s main selling points is that it allows users to conduct virtual meetings from the comfort of their desks, or any other location, making them more productive and reducing the costs associated with travel between locations.
Lync was also able to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft’s productivity suite, already in use across the business at Etisalat Nigeria, so user uptake was anticipated to be easy to achieve, because staff were already comfortable with the interface.
To assist with the roll-out, Etisalat Nigeria called in local Microsoft partner Customer Contact Solutions Nigeria (CCSNL). CCSNL is a Microsoft Certified Voice Specialized Partner, working to deploy and support Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Dynamics CRM
to the East African region. “Our Lync installation was an entirely new installation, so we went through a local Microsoft business partner,” says Olagbegi.
The implementation itself was carried out in mid-2012, and the process of bringing on board 1 000 users was almost entirely without incident. “It went smoothly,” says Olagbegi. “These things never go 100% according to plan, but this was fairly straightforward.
The only small hitch was that our external lines needed to be connected to a switch, and we had to wait while a component was ordered.”
This kink ironed out, the project went ahead as scheduled, and as the teams were brought online, the need for regular travel between Etisalat Nigeria’s various offices was eliminated overnight.
With the implementation of Lync, Etisalat Nigeria’s objectives were instantly achieved. A solution was in place to replace the need for travel. A company-wide mandate was in place requiring staff to use the new system – which had been chosen for its user-friendly
interface for people already familiar with a Microsoft environment.
“Obviously, we had to spread the word, but most people accepted the solution easily,” says Olagbegi. “We had the support of our finance teams, and when we informed our staff, they mostly complied and started using Lync for their various online discussions
He says that because it’s a new technology, people will naturally take a bit of time to get used to it, but the reduction in the travel bill is already freeing up capital and streamlining the businesses. “It’s even being used by people in the same offices
to communicate because of its functionality and ease of use,” he says.
Although it’s too soon after the implementation of Lync to assess the return on investment, Olagbegi says that the feedback from Corporate Office has been good, and there can be no doubt that doing away with the high costs of travel will benefit Etisalat
Etisalat Nigeria has seen unprecedented growth in the Nigerian telecoms industry, and has received many awards and endorsements for its quality and innovative services. The Nigerian Communications Commission pronounced it as the best network based on quality
of service, and it has received many other accolades for the quality of its service.
Without the high costs of excessive travel, the organisation can channel more capital into creating innovative services and expanding and maintaining its telecommunications infrastructure – to maintain its edge in a highly competitive growth market.
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