As an enterprise evolves, so must its unified communications strategy. Businesses are abandoning their traditional hardware phone systems for cheaper and more flexible software-based phone systems that integrate with UC applications -- such as presence and email.
The Boston Celtics, a National Basketball Association franchise, recently replaced its legacy Avaya Inc. hardware phone system with a software-based phone system from ShoreTel Inc. The Celtics are using a softphone system that allows users to access multiple UC applications in one place. The ShoreTel system also has simplified voice communications between the Celtics' two offices, minimized downtime and scaled to handle larger call volumes.
ShoreTel phone system: Moving from hardware to software
The Celtics organization has doubled its sales team in anticipation of the new basketball season. With more employees, the team needed to expand its legacy phone system, but upgrading an 11-year-old, hardware-based Avaya system didn't make sense for the rapidly growing franchise, said Jay Wessel, vice president of technology for the Celtics.
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The legacy phone system was already struggling with the call volume in the Boston office. With the team adding suburban office space, the expense of expanding the old equipment was too high. "Rather than invest $20,000 in our aging Avaya hardware system, we decided to go for broke and replace it completely," he said.
Wessel and his team selected Sunnyvale, Calif.-based UC vendor ShoreTel, licensed 130 softphones and added a second Primary Rate Interface (PRI) circuit to the Boston office to accommodate twice the number of employees.
The software integration between phones and PCs benefits heavy phone users -- like the ticket sales representatives -- who can double their call volume without affecting other departments, Wessel said, noting that the larger staff and new software allows the Boston office to handle more calls quickly, without bringing the whole office to a halt for an hour when tickets go on sale.
Uptime is critical and users expect a dial tone and full functionality 100% of the time, regardless of how busy the ticket sales department is. "That built-in reliability we have with the new softphone system is a big plus," Wessel said.
Users also are more productive with such new software features as the integration with Outlook and Caller ID, he said. "The [users] can better prepare as they are picking up the phone because they know who is calling, and they can see calls they may have missed to better prioritize their workday," he added.
Softphone offers call history, reporting for management team
Users aren't the only ones who appreciate the ShoreTel phone system.
Workflow changes constantly, depending on how the team is playing and the time of year, Wessel said. The detailed call history and reporting features allow managers to see how many calls their employees are answering, who's answering the phone, and the amount of time a user needs to finish a conversation or make a sale. "We only had the most raw call data before, but now managers really love the great reporting capabilities to better work with their employees on that personnel level," he said.
IP phone system connects disparate offices
With the ShoreTel phone system, the Celtics' IT organization was able to integrate voice services between the team's Boston and Waltham offices for the first time.
Previously the Celtics relied on the owner of its Waltham office space to provide phone services, which the team couldn't integrate with its Avaya system in Boston, Wessel said. This setup prevented employees from using such features as call forwarding between the two offices. "There is a single PRI [circuit] in Waltham, and calls can go back and forth through the Waltham PRI or through the two PRIs in Boston," he said. Calls can seamlessly failover between the two sites, should one site go down. "There is much more redundancy and uptime with the IP phone system."