4-page Case Study
Posted: 5/18/2012
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QubicaAMF Bowling Company Scores Big Savings with Communications Solution

Manufacturing everything that goes into a bowling alley, QubicaAMF supports bowling center owners with turnkey and custom construction projects on new centers, upgrades to existing centers, and with parts and service needs. Though it has only 400 employees, QubicaAMF has offices in 17 countries and supports customers in more than 90 countries. As a global company, it requires excellent communications capabilities to maintain operational efficiency. QubicaAMF upgraded to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to take advantage of capabilities such as online meetings and desktop sharing, in addition to the instant messaging, presence, and telephony capabilities it already used. Along with a custom Skype integration solution created by Microsoft Partner Network member Progel, QubicaAMF is using Lync Server 2010 to reduce travel, improve customer relationships, and save on staffing and consulting costs.

Situation
A distinctive sound occurs when somebody bowls a strike. Ten pins banging against each other and the walls. The ball hitting the back of the lane with a thud. For anyone who has bowled a strike, the sound is instantly recognizable and brings a smile to their face.

QubicaAMF helps bring those smiles to life by producing virtually everything that goes into the construction of a bowling alley. It manufactures the pinspotters, lanes, pins, and all of the other specialized equipment. It also produces the software to handle scoring, management, and point-of-sale systems in bowling centers.

Headquartered in Mechanicsville, Virginia and with European headquarters in Bologna, Italy, QubicaAMF was formed in 2005 by the merger of AMF Bowling Products and Qubica Worldwide. The company has installed more than 10,000 bowling centers in 90 countries.

Global Challenges
When Qubica and AMF Bowling Products merged, the new company faced some difficult communications issues. “Many of our teams were now international, and people didn’t know each other very well,” explains Rohana Meade, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at QubicaAMF. As teams were integrated, the company faced large phone bills for calls between its international offices and travel bills for meetings.

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* Without Lync, we would have needed more consultants, and we would have had to fly people around. It would have doubled the cost of the ERP deployment, if not more. *

Rohana Meade
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, QubicaAMF

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To help resolve these issues, QubicaAMF decided to deploy Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 as a small test deployment in the IT department, with the possibility of a full deployment in six months to a year. “We set up PBX [private-branch exchange] integration with dual ring so we could answer our office phones on the computer when we were travelling,” says Meade. “I was in Italy, talking on the phone with someone back in the United States, and someone from the Project Management Group saw what I was doing and wanted it. We implemented it for them, and soon the credit and marketing teams were asking for it. We ended up doing the worldwide deployment in less than 90 days just to meet demand.”

Office Communications Server completely changed the way that employees at QubicaAMF interacted. The company quickly developed a chat culture, and email and phone usage dropped dramatically. The most common form of communication ended up being video calls. “With international teams, where English isn’t everyone’s first language, video really aids communications because you can see people’s expressions,” says Meade.

Office Communications Server also enabled communication between people who might have never talked with each other before. “Our project managers coordinate shipments from around the world. Now they can send an instant message to a warehouse in Europe and see if shipment left on time or coordinate with an installer travelling from Germany,” explains Meade. “We can now find people and communicate directly, which accelerates the flow of information and makes our lives easier.”

What Else Can It Do?
As the new company grew over the next several years, some new challenges came into view and the IT department looked to Microsoft to see how it could solve them. The IT team was supporting users in 17 offices from two central locations. “IT support was really painful. We would attempt to replicate the issue locally or have users send screenshots,” explains Meade. “Getting users to capture a screenshot is really difficult. It was just painful to troubleshoot anything.”

Another issue the company faced was providing customer support for customers spread out over 90 countries. With customer support in only three locations, customers were often forced to make long-distance calls to get help.

Finally, the recession in 2010 led to significant budget cuts, especially for travel. Travel budgets were cut by 50 percent in 2011 alone. QubicaAMF wanted to expand its communications solution to help address these issues.

Solution
To gain improved communications capabilities such as desktop sharing and integrated conferencing, QubicaAMF upgraded to Microsoft Lync Server 2010. It has deployed Lync Server 2010 at two sites, one in the United States and one in Italy. Each site uses a Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition server along with a mediation server and a gateway for PBX integration with its Siemens HiPath PBX equipment, which is certified for Lync.

Providing Soft Phones for All Employees
All 364 knowledge worker employees now enjoy dual-mode calling, which means incoming calls ring on both their desk phones and the Microsoft Lync 2010 client on the desktop. This enables employees to answer incoming calls when they are travelling or working from home. About 40 employees have retired their desk phones and use Lync 2010 as their phone exclusively.

Expanding Conferencing Usage
More employees are also using conferencing with the deployment of Lync Server 2010. The new integrated client and the interoperation with Microsoft Outlook 2010 for scheduling make planning and attending calls easier. Now that advanced conferencing features like whiteboarding are part of the client, employees use them more frequently. QubicaAMF also integrated Lync Server 2010 with its Polycom videoconferencing solution so that individuals can join videoconferences using their Lync 2010 client. This enables employees to participate in videoconferences even if they are not at a location with the Polycom equipment.

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* Instead of sending documents back and forth, we make the changes together using Lync desktop sharing. It has accelerated our business processes. *

Rohana Meade
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, QubicaAMF

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QubicaAMF has quickly adopted the desktop-sharing capabilities for many functions. Employees frequently use desktop sharing to collaborate on documents during ad hoc meetings. The IT department has adopted desktop sharing for troubleshooting.

Adding Skype Integration
QubicaAMF also extended Lync Server 2010 to solve its problem of providing support to customers in remote locations. Salespeople were using Skype because customers used it. QubicaAMF hired Progel, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to develop a solution to enable customers to call its customer care center using Skype. Progel set up a Skype number in every country and routed it through Lync Server 2010 to the customer care center. If customers need to talk to a salesperson or to someone at a specific office, the call can be routed through Lync Server, so customers no longer have to make international calls to get support.

Mobile Client and More
QubicaAMF is deploying the Lync Mobile client in response to employee demand. Employees use a mix of Windows Phone, Android, and iPhones, and Lync Mobile clients are available for all of these platforms.

Going forward, QubicaAMF sees many additional capabilities that could provide benefits such as federation and using Lync to implement least-cost routing.

Benefits
QubicaAMF obtained substantial benefits when it deployed Office Communications Server 2007. It reduced toll charges for international calls between offices to almost zero. It helped facilitate the merger of the two companies by enabling teams to communicate frequently through videoconferencing, which facilitated the development of a unified corporate culture.

With the deployment of Lync Server 2010, QubicaAMF expanded its communications capabilities and saw many additional benefits, such as the expansion of virtual meetings, improved customer relationships by using its custom Skype integration, and a further increase in productivity through the use of desktop sharing and Lync Mobile.

Reduced Costs and Improved Customer Communications with Online Meetings
The economic downturn in 2010 forced QubicaAMF to cut its travel budgets. With the Lync Server deployment, the company continues to operate efficiently using virtual meetings. “When we cut the travel budget and people started using Lync, the number of meetings actually went up because people found out how easy it is to use,” says Meade. “With Lync, we can have 10 to 12 people share a whiteboard. It’s not identical to having everyone in the same room, but it’s a very good experience.”

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* I have a staff of 17 people. We would need twice that if we didn’t have Lync. *

Rohana Meade
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, QubicaAMF

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QubicaAMF used to fly several employees to Japan on a regular basis for meetings with one of its largest customers. Now the meeting is held via Lync, with the customer joining through Lync Web App. “We are saving $25,000 per meeting, which is great, but that’s not the biggest benefit,” says Meade. “We can meet more frequently and with more people, which has improved communications. We are seeing a bigger benefit just from the relationships we’ve developed.”

Ad hoc meetings to work on documents or to share ideas have become commonplace as well. “I will frequently launch a Lync meeting and share a document and do budgeting with my team in real time. We see examples of that all around the globe on a daily basis,” says Meade. “Instead of sending documents back and forth, we make the changes together using Lync desktop sharing. It has accelerated our business processes.”

IT Costs Kept Low
By using Lync 2010, the IT staff at QubicaAMF provides better service to remote users, which keeps staffing needs down. “I have a staff of 17 people. We would need twice that if we didn’t have Lync,” says Meade.

QubicaAMF really saw the benefits of Lync during a recently completed worldwide enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation. “We had people in the United States supporting European offices and troubleshooting ERP system issues using desktop sharing,” explains Meade. “Without Lync, we would have needed more consultants, and we would have had to fly people around. It would have doubled the cost of the ERP deployment if not more.” The company also used Lync to train employees on the ERP system.

Better Customer Service
Previously, many QubicaAMF customers had to incur long-distance charges to talk with support staff. With the custom integration of Skype with Lync Server provided by Progel, the company provides local numbers in all of the countries it serves. This resulted not only in cost savings for its customers, but better customer relationships as customers are more likely to seek support or advice.

Money Saved by Taking Lync on the Road
As with many IT initiatives at QubicaAMF, employee demand led to the rollout of Lync Mobile. Employees saw the potential benefits of being able to stay in contact while they were away from their computers. QubicaAMF also sees the potential for cost savings, as employees can use the mobile client to connect to meetings rather than dialing into a conferencing bridge.

Additional Benefits Expected in the Future
QubicaAMF has seen a nearly instantaneous payback from its investment in Lync Server through cost savings in toll charges, travel, and avoided staffing costs. It still sees the potential for additional benefits. QubicaAMF will implement least-cost routing to reduce international calling charges even further by using Lync to route calls over its network. The company also sees great potential in the federation capabilities of Lync. It has already federated with several technology vendors to improve project planning. It also sees a lot of potential in using Microsoft Office 365 to supply Lync to its customers, so that the company can use Lync to provide technical support.

Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 ushers in a new connected user experience that transforms every communication into an interaction that is more collaborative, and engaging; and that is accessible from anywhere. For IT, the benefits are equally powerful, with a highly secure and reliable communications system that works with existing tools and systems for easier management, lower cost of ownership, smoother deployment and migration, and greater choice and flexibility.

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2010, go to:
www.microsoft.com/lync

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Progel products and services, call (39) 051 6639411 or visit the website at:
www.progel.it

For more information about QubicaAMF products and services, call (804) 569-1000 or visit the website at:
www.qubicaamf.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 400 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Mechanicsville, Virginia, QubicaAMF has 400 employees worldwide.


Business Situation

As a company supporting a global employee and customer base, QubicaAMF was searching for innovative ways to improve internal and external communications.


Solution

QubicaAMF deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to improve conferencing and support capabilities.


Benefits

  • Reduced travel by 50 percent and improved customer communications with online meetings
  • Avoided 50 percent increase in IT staff
  • Decreased travel and training cost of enterprise resource planning (ERP) installation by more than 50 percent
  • Improved customer service by supplying local contact numbers


Hardware
  • Siemens HiPath PBX

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010

Vertical Industries
Manufacturing & Resources

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Unified Communications

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Progel

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