4-page Case Study
Posted: 9/25/2012
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Third Wave Business Systems Small Firm Adopts Unified Communications Solution; Expects 5 Percent Revenue Gain

Third Wave Business Systems was a small company with a big concern: turning its phone system from a drag on efficiency to a boon for productivity, professionalism, and profits. It achieved that transformation with the help of Landis Computer, which showed it how a small company could afford to take full advantage of Microsoft Lync 2010 for phone, instant messaging, and web conference communications. Now, Third Wave speeds internal communications with instant messaging and web conferencing that minimizes the impact of collaborating across multiple time zones. It presents a more professional image to customers, responds to them more quickly, and even finds them asking to federate their Microsoft Lync systems with the company’s own. Third Wave is using Microsoft Lync to expand its product offerings, and it expects that move to increase revenues by 5 percent over two years.

Situation
Third Wave Business Systems, which specializes in deploying SAP Business One and Microsoft Dynamics GP solutions, has 36 employees—and many of the same challenges as much larger corporations.

Consider communications. Its consultants work out of five offices around the United States. With that dispersion, reaching the right person right away was difficult through much of the company’s history.

Communications between consultants and customers could be equally troublesome. It was crucial for the company to present the most professional image to customers, of course. But as Third Wave grew, its aging deployment of a Cisco Call Manager 4.2 phone system didn’t always support that image. The company found it difficult to add phone number extensions, the system wasn’t supported on the Windows 7 operating system, and the software was no longer under vendor support. As a workaround, consultants often relied on their mobile phones or Skype accounts.

“Our communications system hurt us with customers,” acknowledges Gopal Viswanathan, Director of Software Development at Third Wave Business Systems. “There was no consistent way to reach people at the company. Getting customers to connect with us could be an issue.”

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* We’ve heard customers say that if they buy from us, they’ll be able to reach our consultants through Lync. Having Lync is turning out to be a competitive advantage. *

Gopal Viswanathan
Director of Software Development, Third Wave Business Systems

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As Third Wave added systems to work around the gaps in Cisco Call Manager, it also, however inadvertently, added to its concerns. Skype provided presence and instant messaging, but only to those on each employee’s access list; there was no universal roster giving all employees access to all of their colleagues. GoToMeeting provided web conferencing, but the number of accounts that Third Wave purchased proved insufficient; adding more became too costly. The result was double-booking of conference accounts, which created what Viswanathan calls “a nightmare that resulted in lost productivity” as meetings had to be pushed out and rescheduled.

The very multiplicity of systems became another concern. None of them—instant messaging, phone, web conferencing—connected to the others, so employees couldn’t, for example, start an instant-messaging session and then smoothly move to a phone call or desktop-sharing web session as the need arose. Third Wave itself had the expense of separately licensing and managing each system—not something that a small but growing company sees as a benefit.

Solution
When Viswanathan and his colleagues decided it was time for a communications solution that supported their company’s continued growth, as well as reflected and enhanced its professional image, they thought about upgrading the Cisco system—but not for long.

“We didn’t see Cisco providing the breadth of features we wanted, particularly not at the price point we wanted,” says Viswanathan. The company also considered a solution from ShoreTel that would have provided much—but not all—that it sought in a new solution.

At about this time, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Lync 2010 server and client software for unified communications. “The release of Microsoft Lync was a real turning point in our decision making because it convinced us that we could and should have a full-featured unified communications solution, rather than just a replacement for the phone system,” says Viswanathan.

As a Microsoft Partner Network member, Third Wave liked that Microsoft Lync was based on Microsoft technologies with which it was familiar. But the company’s expertise lay in enterprise business software, not unified communications. To help ensure a successful deployment, the company contracted with Landis Computer Technology Solutions, another Microsoft Partner Network member and a specialist in unified communications and IP phone system solutions. “Landis had the knowledge to make our Microsoft Lync deployment a success, we were comfortable working with them, and they gave us the confidence we needed to be an early adopter.”

One aspect of the Microsoft Lync deployment for which Landis helped instill confidence was financial. Viswanathan and his colleagues never doubted that they would benefit from a full, enterprise-strength unified communications solution also designed for much larger companies—but they had concerns about the infrastructure costs that went with that solution. “We looked at hardware specifications that called for several large servers running Microsoft Lync Server, and more running database software, and we knew we couldn’t afford that,” says Viswanathan. “But Landis showed us that we didn’t need the infrastructure deployment of a much larger company. They showed us how Microsoft Lync could work affordably for us.”

The solution was of a pair of HP ProLiant servers, running the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. One server runs the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 front-end server, which manages the various forms of communications—telephony, instant messaging, and web conferencing—internally. An AudioCodes gateway appliance connects this server to the public service telephone network—for outbound and inbound calls. A second server runs the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 edge server—which sits between the internal network and the Internet to ensure security and handle federation connectivity with other organizations. Each Lync Server runs as a single virtual machine on its respective host, so as the company’s needs grow, Third Wave can easily scale out the solution without the need for more hardware.

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* We’re not only using Lync to increase the service we deliver to our customers, we’re also using it as a way that our customers can work more effectively with their customers. *

Gopal Viswanathan
Director of Software Development, Third Wave Business Systems

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The necessary directory information on Third Wave employees comes from an existing server running Active Directory Domain Services, so employee information needs to be entered only once. The Lync edge server uses federation so that external organizations—suppliers, partners, and customers—can participate in Microsoft Lync-based conferencing, instant messaging, voice, video, and desktop sharing sessions as though they were located on the Third Wave network. The unified messaging capability that delivers voice mail and faxes to a user’s Microsoft Outlook inbox, along with traditional email, is hosted on an existing server running Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

Third Wave employees connect to Microsoft Lync Server in several ways. The obsolete Cisco phones were replaced almost entirely with Bluetooth headsets that connect to the Microsoft Lync client on PCs; the company also uses a few Polycom CX600 handsets and a Polycom CX3000 conferencing unit. Six months after Third Wave adopted Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft released Lync Mobile, and Landis Computer helped Third Wave to adopt it, also. Employees use it to extend their Microsoft Lync connections to their Windows Phones, iPhones, and Android phones.

Benefits
Third Wave Business Systems uses Microsoft Lync to speed communications both internally and with customers, and to gain competitive advantage and increase revenue—all while cutting both capital and operating costs associated with communications.

Gains Competitive Advantage; Holds Conferences 10 to 15 Percent Sooner
In contrast to the concerns that Third Wave used to have for its image with customers, the company now has a unified communications solution that enhances its image, its ability to do business, and even the amount of revenue it can generate.

“Our use of Microsoft Lync has made a tremendous difference in the professionalism we can project to customers, and in the quality and speed of the service we can provide to them,” says Viswanathan.

He points to the consistent way that customers now can reach anyone at Third Wave, thanks to a phone system that provides extensions to all employees, regardless of their office location. And if employees aren’t at their desks, customer calls—along with all other types of communications, such as voice mail and instant messaging from federated customers—follow them to their Lync softphones.

Because each employee has a dedicated web conferencing account, conferences with customers can be scheduled more quickly and implemented more reliably, without the fear of double-booking and rescheduling. Viswanathan estimates that the consultants’ use of Microsoft Lync-based conferencing makes it possible for them to schedule and hold customer conferences about 10 to 15 percent sooner than before.

Third Wave isn’t the only one thinking about Microsoft Lync—so are its customers. “Just as we see the value of reaching our customers through Lync, it’s on their radar as well,” says Viswanathan. “We’ve heard customers say that if they buy from us, they’ll be able to reach our consultants through Lync. Having Lync is turning out to be a competitive advantage.”

Expects to Boost Revenues by 5 Percent
It’s turning out to be a revenue generator, too. Part of Third Wave’s business is developing tool sets to integrate additional capabilities into SAP Business One. Microsoft Lync Server is now one of those capabilities. Third Wave has added features in its flagship product, Advanced Productivity Pack, which its customers can use, while in SAP Business One, to access a phone number from a customer record and pass it to Microsoft Lync Server to automatically initiate a call.

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* We’re using Microsoft Lync as a huge productivity booster throughout the company. *

Gopal Viswanathan
Director of Software Development, Third Wave Business Systems

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“We’re not only using Lync to increase the service we deliver to our customers, we’re also using it as a way that our customers can work more effectively with their customers,” says Viswanathan. “That was a completely unexpected benefit of adopting Lync. We think it could increase our revenues by 5 percent over the next two years.”

Speeds Internal Communications
Much of the enhanced customer service that Third Wave now provides is based on the better internal communication that the company has by using Microsoft Lync. Employees have immediate access to their colleagues contact information, without having to hunt for Skype account numbers or other data in personal contact lists. They use presence to instantly learn the status of those colleagues, eliminating the hassles of leaving voice-mail messages and returning calls. They find instant messaging a quick, relatively unobtrusive way to communicate with fellow employees and federated vendors and customers. And they use web conference white-boarding to conduct working sessions that include all team members, wherever they are.

“We’re using Microsoft Lync as a huge productivity booster throughout the company,” says Viswanathan. “For example, instant messages follow me via my cell phone when I’m not in the office—without my having to log in to a separate instant messaging service.”

Saves 40 to 50 Percent on Operating Costs
Third Wave wanted to avoid costly communications solutions. It has achieved that with its adoption of Microsoft Lync. Third Wave now licenses one system—Microsoft Lync—instead of the three systems it replaced, reducing licensing costs. Viswanathan estimates that Third Wave saved 50 percent of the cost of acquiring and deploying Microsoft Lync by using off-the-shelf Bluetooth headsets rather than the headsets or handsets it would have needed with other solutions. And attempting to assemble a comparably featured solution from Cisco would have cost at least 25 percent more, he says.

The savings continue with reduced operating costs. Because Microsoft Lync automates or streamlines many of the formerly complex, manual processes of Cisco Call Manager, Third Wave saves 40 to 50 percent of the management time and cost it formerly spent on that earlier system.

“Administering the old system used to be a huge pain,” says Viswanathan. “Now, with Microsoft Lync, it’s easy to create new extensions and to support users. The time and money we save on maintenance goes directly into customer support and increasing revenue.”

Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
For more information about the Microsoft server product portfolio, go to

www.microsoft.com/servers

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 Landis Computer Technology Solutions products and services, call (717) 733-0793 or visit the website at:
www.landiscomputer.com

For more information about Third Wave Business Systems products and services, call (201) 703-2100 or visit the website at:
www.twbs.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 35 employees

Organization Profile

Third Wave Business Systems, based in Wayne, New Jersey, and with offices in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Tampa, provides business management software for small and midsize companies.


Business Situation

To work around the limits of its Cisco phone system, Third Wave adopted instant messaging and conferencing systems that left it with an inefficient patchwork of solutions poorly suited for internal or external communication.


Solution

Third Wave replaced these with Microsoft Lync software, for Internet telephony, presence and instant messaging, and web conferencing capability.


Benefits

  • Gains competitive advantage
  • Holds conferences 10 to 15 percent sooner
  • Expects to boost revenues by 5 percent
  • Speeds internal communications
  • Saves 40 to 50 percent on operating costs

Hardware
  • HP ProLiant Servers
  • Polycom CX600 IP Phone
  • Polycom CX3000 Conference Phone
  • AudioCodes MSBG800 PSTN/PRI Gateway

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Microsoft Exchange Server Unified Messaging

Vertical Industries
Professional Services

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Unified Communications

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Landis Computer Technology Solutions

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