4-page Case Study - Posted 7/10/2012
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Service improvement and cost reduction achieved by connecting different sites through Microsoft Lync Online whichplays an important role as a tool for regional revitalization using ICT.
Tokushima Prefectural Government is promoting service improvement and cost reduction throughthe delegation of authority fromheadquarters. Here, Lync Online has been utilized due to the increased importance of communication between thevarious sites as a result
of the integration ofthe branch offices. Meetings involving multiple locations can be held without theneed for employees to travel by connecting all participants using cloud based video conferencing service. In addition, Tokyo head office and Osaka head office
can also be connectedthrough Lync Online thusreducing the time and cost spent on business trips. In September 2011, torevitalize the village limits of the prefecture,it has begun to attract the satellite offices of metropolitan companies,where Lync Online
is also used to connect the satellite offices of metropolitan companies. In Tokushima Prefecture, Lync Online activities will befurther expanded and studies are being carried out toapply Lync Online in connecting the villages and towns in the future.
Prefectural office is established in order to improve service and reduce cost and the key to achieve this is to facilitate communication between the locations.
Tokushima prefecture is blessed with nature and tourist attractions. It is famous for products such as Sudachi, Naruto Kintoki and Hamo, whilst also being home to a number of leading companies in the business of LED. It also has an advanced ICT environment
with optic fiber network laid throughout the prefecture and this is a major feature of Tokushima. However, it also faces the challenge of more than half of its population being the elderly, aged above 65 years, who occupy more than 35% of the total settlements
or the “Village limits”. In order to manage this problem, experts have established a ‘Study Committee of Tokushima Village Revival’ project. It aims to attract satellite offices which will utilize the ICT infrastructure.
In this approach, the old houses in the sparsely populated villages will be converted into the satellite offices of the metropolitan companies. When working in an environment rich in natural resources, an employee’s creativity and productivity is improved and
work life balance becomes possible and this aids in the regional revitalization of a depopulated village. A number of IT companies are also participating in this effort, establishing satellite offices in Minami cho and Kamiyama cho, which have yielded good
Lync Online played an important role in attracting satellite offices. It makes it possible to work without feeling a physical divide with the Tokyo metropolitan areas by utilizing video conferencing through the fiber optic network of Tokushima Prefecture. This
was featured on the nation-wide news program network and is synonymous with the current ‘Tokushima Village Revitalization Project’.
Lync Online has also been utilized in the government business of Tokushima Prefecture. Meetings that involve multiple locations can be conducted without requiring the employees to travel. This is achieved by connecting the offices in different locations using
the Video Conference facility of Lync Online.
Reorganization of the branch office is the context to why this mechanism was required and this is explained by Mr. Hirotoshi Shimada, Assistant Manager, Regional Information Division, Directorate General of Regional Development, who is in charge of promoting
e-Government. In order to provide an organization that can support the real conditions and respond to all of its citizens’ requests, Tokushima Prefecture started the reorganization of the branch office during 2005 to 2008.
“For example, there were branch offices in Mima City and Miyoshi City, and supervisors were deployed to the respective offices but after the reorganization, it was integrated into the Western general prefectural office with a single chief. However, in order
to control the cost, the existing government building was being used as it is. Due to this reason it became very important to be able to link these sites smoothly.”
This reorganization made an important contribution apart from providing improved services to the citizens. After the reorganization into the Western general prefectural office, what was previously considered as a branch office of the head office was now able
to carry out the same functions as the head office, thus increasing the mobility of the regional office and enabled it to provide more one-stop services. Reorganization of the branch office has also led to the reduction of administrative costs with Lync Online
being used to further increase the effectiveness of communication.
High mobility and ease of deployment are the advantages of migrating to Lync Online of Microsoft Office Live Meeting.
Tokushima Prefecture began remote location communication using ICT in the year 2008. Live Meeting was first introduced and used on an experimental basis within the office. Subsequently, it participated in the ‘Local Government Cloud Development and Demonstration
Project’ of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and began to use Live Meeting in the integrated prefectural office.
In the summer of 2011, features of Live Meeting and its user interface were enhanced significantly. Attention was drawn to the possibility of deploying Lync Online which had achieved cloud support. In September 2011, it was used in demonstrations to attract
satellite offices, and the real adoption started in October. Meanwhile, migration to Lync Online had started within the office. It was introduced in Minami and Anan government offices (southern general prefectural office), Mima and Miyoshi government offices
(western general prefectural office) and then in the head office.
“The biggest advantage of Lync Online is its high mobility.” said Mr. Shimada. "Participation in video conferencing is possible with just a computer since the service is cloud based. The images are clear and presentations can be given using screen sharing and
virtual whiteboards. It is also possible to participate in the meetings using mobile phones.”
“Lync Online is easy to install”, as pointed out by Mr. Teruyuki Hamaue, Assistant Manager, Foundation for Promoting e-Tokushima, who has been providing technical support to the ‘Local Government Cloud Development and Demonstration Project’ of the Ministry
of Internal Affairs and Communications as well as providing support to the introduction of Lync Online. Since it can be used by simply installing one software in the user’s computer, large scale preparation such as installation or setting of servers is not
required. One could start using it right away without the need for support from Microsoft or integrators.
“The other big attraction is that initial investment is not required”, added Mr. Shimada. He likened it to the use of electricity and gas where monthly charges per user is inexpensive and it can be deployed without any difficulty.
In the head office and the integrated prefectural offices, Polycom CX5000 (Microsoft RoundTable in the past) has also been introduced, and is being used in meetings with large number of participants. “As the camera focuses automatically on the person speaking,
it is very convenient for meetings in which many people are speaking successively.”
Remote location communication is being deployed not only with the head office and integrated prefectural offices but also with Tokyo head office and Osaka head office. Lync Online was introduced in these offices in 2012 and its usage outside the prefecture
Quality of communications has improved with significant reduction in time and cost associated with staff travel.
||The biggest advantage of Lync Online is its high mobility. Video conferencing is possible with just a computer since the service is cloud based and initial investment is not required. The images are clear and presentations can be given
by using screen sharing and virtual whiteboards
| Mr. Hirotoshi Shimada
In charge of promoting e-Government
Regional Information Division, Directorate General of Regional Development
By using Lync Online, time and cost spent on staff travel has been significantly reduced. Mr. Shimada recalls in the general Prefectural Office, more than 10 people used to gather for the office meeting (Intra-office meeting) which was held every week. Some
of the participants were required to travel about 10 km as a result half a day’s time was wasted. However, there is no need for travel now because participation in the meeting is made possible through video conferencing. This reduces the time required to conduct
business and is also expected to improve the work life balance of the employees.
This advantage was utilized to its maximum in the project to attract satellite offices. In this project, meetings with companies that have their head office in metropolitan areas were held frequently and these were conducted using Video Conferencing of Lync
Online without having to travel to meet the other party. “If one were to keep travelling to Tokyo, it would have taken about 160 hours of time and the travel expenses would have been more than 650,000 yen.” said Mr. Shimada.
The quality of communication has also improved through the use of video conferencing as compared with phones and emails previously. “It is easier to convey detailed nuances with interview type of communication based on pictures when compared to voice or text
communication, and the discussions are completed faster” says Mr. Shimada. For example, he explained when communicating with the presidents of the companies participating in satellite offices, decision making tends to be more swift during discussions conducted
on Lync Online thus projects progressed speedily.
Picture quality is also significantly improved. Mr. Shimada recalls an instance, “When a meeting was held between the Tokyo head office and the satellite offices using Lync Online, there was an incident where the person from Tokyo said “Why don’t you carry
your coffee and come over here as there is something that I want to show you?” The person from the satellite office answered, “It will take 1 hour by plane, is that okay?” This misunderstanding illustrates the superior picture quality of video conferencing
using Lync Online.
Governor Izumi of Tokushima Prefecture has also personally experienced this high level of picture quality in video conferencing. When a briefing was held for the village revitalization project and the Governor could not travel, he participated using Lync Online
from Tokushima Prefecture where there was an appeal to promote the satellite offices. In this instance, video conferencing was held between the meeting room of the head office, Tokyo assembly hall and 2 regions (Kamiyama-cho, Minami-cho) where demonstration
experiments were conducted using installed projectors and screens. The prefectural governor commented that video conferencing through Lync Online made it possible to communicate as if one was physically present at the actual location, Mr Shimada recalled.
In February 2012, ‘Tokushima Business Forum in Osaka’ was held and Lync Online played an active part. This forum was held with the objectives to provide technical PR to the leading LED companies within the prefecture, secure excellent human resources in cooperation
with the Universities, introduce the advanced ICT environment in the prefecture and the steps taken to make use of it. The Lync Online booth was established in this forum, with the forum venue and different locations within the prefecture connected using video
conferencing. Those who attended the forum experienced its power.
“This could be achieved instantly because Lync Online is Cloud based. I think the appeal adopting Lync Online was strongly supported by the fact that optical fiber had been laid even in the mountainous regions of Tokushima prefecture.” Said Mr. Shimada.
Expand the use of Lync Online with the possibility of linking more towns and villages in the future
Lync Online has been rated highly within the office as an advanced approach for ICT. And as travel time and cost is effectively reduced, evident in its use in the Tokyo head office and Osaka head office, there are expectations to further expand the usage
as well as increase its uses in the future.
Mr. Shimada said, “We hope that everyone from the towns and villages will start using it proactively in the future”. The prefectural administration should not be limited to only the prefectural offices but it has to be in close coordination with towns and villages
too. If Lync Online is used, optimization of the entire administration and further service improvement is possible. “At present the communication between towns and villages is made through telephone and email, but it takes time for communication since it is
difficult to convey detailed nuances. Efficient and effective communication is required to improve services with the limited manpower. In order to make this possible, activities to introduce Lync Online have begun.” said Mr. Shimada.
Establishment of “Cafe Network” is being studied as a further extension of the satellite offices. Lync Online is introduced in the cafes of metropolitan areas and connected to the villages in the mountainous regions such as Kamiyama-cho within the prefecture.
This can provide an environment in which conversation can be carried out at any time. Discussions are already underway with NPO, the implementing agency, and it aims to implement this within the fiscal year 2012.
Lync Online is making a major contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of local government business, facilitating administrative services and is also a tool to achieve regional revitalization.
[Illustration of Selected locations]
Video conferencing held every week at the Western General Prefectural Office
Lync Online booth at Tokushima Business Forum in Osaka
Mr. Hirotoshi Shimada
In charge of promoting e-Government
Regional Information Division, Directorate General of Regional Development
Mr. Teruyuki Hamaue
Foundation for Promoting of e-Tokushima