4-page Case Study - Posted 9/24/2012
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Unified communications revolution for engineering services business
Beca, a large Asia-Pacific engineering and consultancy services company, has a far-flung network of 2,500 employees operating across the region. An effective communications system, offering the most up-to-date efficiencies and capabilities, is
a ‘must’ for this business. It upgraded to Lync, Microsoft's unified communications platform, with Windows 7, leading to increased flexibility and mobility, lowered costs and improved customer liaison.
Beca is one of the largest employee-owned engineering and related consultancy services companies in the Asia-Pacific region. It supplies engineering and consultancy services to many sectors including industrial, building, government, water, transport and
Its widespread employee network spans New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China and Indonesia, so an effective communications system that helps negate time zones, while keeping the business in touch with its customers and enabling it to make the most of its
massive pool of talent and know-how, is a vital part of its infrastructure.
Having experts across the region engaged in a wide variety of industries and services means Beca employees increasingly need a range of collaboration tools to help service their clients. These tools also needed to help employees with manage their demanding
schedules and travel-heavy agendas in order to obtain a better work-life balance.
Beca had been considering a unified communications solution for five years, and realized the time to invest was now. The organization's existing telecommunications system, based on a Nortel Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX), lacked the functionality
and flexibility the business was starting to need. It was too expensive to maintain, replace and operate, and no longer met Beca’s mobility demands.
“With an increasing number of our employees ‘off site’ and in different offices at any given time, as well as the trend towards cross-border working as we seek to make better use of our multinational talent pool on any given project, we found we needed greater
flexibility and agility from our telecommunications system in order to achieve better collaboration and outcomes,” says Robin Johansen, Beca’s Chief Information Officer.
It was time for a root and branch review of Beca’s telecommunications technology.
Unified communications involves bringing together, on a single platform, real-time communication technologies such as telephony, video conferencing, data-sharing, call control, speech recognition, online chat and location information along with other elements
such as email, voicemail, SMS and fax. An example would be the ability for one member of a team to share a client voicemail with another team member via email.
It aims to eliminate or reduce communication delays, ease the information sharing process and facilitate group or one-on-one communication across several different technologies, such as participating in a webcast while staying at your desk.
Beca worked with Microsoft partner Gen-i to design and install a unified communications platform based on Windows 7 and Microsoft Lync Enterprise Solution, replacing the Nortel PABX.
Microsoft Lync is a single, unified communications platform that integrates seamlessly with other existing tools and systems to enhance or fully replace an existing Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange (IP PBX) system. Lync is built to fully integrate
with Microsoft Office. With Lync, users can keep track of their contacts’ availability, send an instant message, start or join an audio, video, or web conference, or make a phone call – all through a consistent, familiar interface.
“It was a fairly easy decision to go with Lync because we were already using Microsoft products exclusively across the organization and the technology was enterprise-ready, meaning it was easy to incorporate additional solutions,” says Johansen.
“We chose to work with Gen-i because it was already supplying telephony services to us and had the necessary capabilities, both in computing and telephony.”
Beca’s Polycom and Tandberg IP video conferencing technology were easily integrated during a phased implementation programme that took place in 2011 and 2012.
The implementation of Microsoft Lync has brought wide ranging changes to the way Beca staff work, enhancing productivity, increasing flexibility, lowering costs and changing the way in which the organization interacts with its clients.
“Benefits started to accrue from the moment we completed the first roll-out in 2011,” says Johansen.
The unified Lync client interface means Beca employees no longer have to switch technology platforms for different types of conference calls. With a single click, they can start an audio or video conference directly through Lync, giving them quicker access
to clients and colleagues than ever before, and boosting their availability regardless of where they are or what they’re doing.
Employees are also able to use the system to locate subject matter experts within Beca quickly and easily – and see whether they are available to talk, in a meeting or out of contact.
“This is a real boon,” says Johansen.
“Our people no longer have to hunt and peck for this type of info. They can find another colleague easily, view their presence information, and immediately call or send an instant message to get a question answered or an issue resolved.”
Employees also have more options to help them improve communication and relationships with their colleagues. They are now able to learn more about co-workers and how they fit into the organization. This helps people who do not work together on a regular
basis get to know one another and work together more effectively.
Beca plans to build on Lync to include the business reporting capability. Using Lync reporting data, the company will be able to produce trend reports for the business, which can assist with, for example, capacity planning for reception, or in functional
areas to show how many users utilized a particular feature.
Microsoft Lync now gives Beca employees real-time presence information – including location, availability and photos – and enhanced instant messaging to help them connect more efficiently and effectively both with each other and with clients. Even if those
clients aren’t Lync users themselves.
The system makes it easy for users to create, moderate, and join pre-planned and on-the-fly audio, video and web meetings with people both inside and outside the organization, sharing data quickly and easily.
This means staff can connect and meet with contacts from almost anywhere with their smartphones, without having to worry about phone numbers, conference call passcodes or call leader PINS – the system’s integration with Outlook means all that information
can be pre-populated.
“We had some of these capabilities previously but it was never ‘easy’. This has removed the hassle, leaving people to enjoy the technology instead of being intimidated by it.”
Beca has reduced maintenance cost on the legacy PABX system by $99,000 each year. In addition, there have been significant cost savings in web conferencing (a predicted $24,000 per year) and audio conferencing ($180,000 per year), and a huge reduction in
domestic and international travel.
Beca’s clients have benefited from improved responsiveness and greater interaction with the company’s staff since the installation of Lync. The flexibility and mobility of the system means clients can access Beca’s consultants more readily and that they,
in turn, are able to respond and share information with their customers more quickly and efficiently.
“This is particularly important in cross-border situations, and the nature of our work across the Asia-Pacific region means it’s given us real competitive advantage,” says Johansen.
Beca has implemented a unified communications solution that has allowed it to improve productivity, reduced costs and improve customer service.
The increased flexibility and mobility of the solution has made life easier for staff who regularly engage with colleagues based in different offices around the country and world.