Siemens OpenScape UC Suite 2011 – the Customer Speaks
The recent release of OpenScape UC Suite 2011 represents the most advanced platform to date from Siemens Enterprise Communications in addressing the ever-widening scope of communications in the workplace. This update encompasses a broad range of applications, and it’s hard to imagine any mode they haven’t touched here. Rather than focus on what’s new in terms of features, I’m going to provide an end-user perspective based on three case studies.
The key takeaway is to show that the value proposition of Unified Communications is as wide as the uses customers find for it. These case studies provide three very different examples as to how businesses are getting value from various aspects of OpenScape UC Suite 2011. From a UCStrategies perspective, there are two elements to this takeaway that enterprises and SMBs need to consider.
First is the fact that every deployment scenario is different. While every business wants the latest features at a lower price, these case studies show that UC can bring distinct value beyond the basics. As such, IT decision makers should not view UC as an out-of-the box solution. By working closely with the vendor, they can determine the right mix of elements that truly makes their business run better and makes their employees more productive. UC brings a lot of flexibility, and with good planning, you may be surprised at the range of problem sets it can address.
The second element is most evident in the first case study. Aside from the UC solution itself, the company behind it plays a key role in a successful deployment. Whether the business is just transitioning to IP, or is in the final phase of going all-IP, the vendor brings a critical set of capabilities to develop an implementation plan as well as to fulfill it. The more complex the scenario, the more important this becomes, and IT decision makers need to take this into account just as much as the technology they are investing in.
This Danish manufacturer represents the classic mid-sized enterprise operation. They have 5,000 employees across 43 countries, and given this scale, have challenges that go beyond a simple PBX upgrade. On a practical level, they needed to transition from a multi-vendor telecom environment to a single vendor with the ability to support a consistent SLA across locations. Furthermore, their legacy phone systems were near end-of-life or had reached capacity, and these limitations were starting to cause some real pain points.
Just considering these details, it is easy to see why Nilfisk-Advance would go with Siemens; they needed a vendor with global reach, global scale and the technical expertise/resources to make this company-wide upgrade. Not only that, but there is the underlying migration from TDM to IP to manage, and this brings the discussion closer to the world of UC.
The company had three distinct business objectives to address in this transition, and to do this, they needed to partner with a company of Siemens’ caliber. First, they had a mandate to reduce travel expenses by 12%, which Siemens was able to address with elements from OpenScape Video and OpenScape UC Application.
Second, they wanted to outsource non-core functions to help reduce costs, and Siemens brought a lot of expertise in helping them manage the shift from Capex to Opex to ensure that the savings were sustainable. To that end, Siemens worked with Nilfisk-Advance not only to source the right partners for managed services, but to centralize its management across all locations and with the multitude of network elements needed to interoperate with OpenScape.
The third objective was more strategic, but also the most dependent on OpenScape UC Suite 2011. This was around the notion of having “smarter working practices,” which calls into play all aspects of OpenScape. First, with OpenScape Voice, routine communication is made easier with single number reach, as well as being less costly, given the international scope of the business. Also, by routing internal calls over a single WAN environment, the quality and reliability was more consistent than before.
Building on this, OpenScape Video has made global team work much easier by virtue of 12 new video conferencing rooms, including HD video at global HQ. In addition, OpenScape Unified Communications has been extended to 1,500 mobile users. OpenScape functionality has also been added to their various contact center sites, which translates into a better customer experience.
There is little doubt that the range of features in OpenScape UC Suite 2011 has been beneficial for Nilfisk-Advance, but a key part of the value proposition here is also Siemens itself. Improved communications capabilities is one part of the equation, but the customer also needed to work with a company that could provide these solutions in a more strategic context and address business issues that went beyond telecom, and the company believes that Siemens fits the bill.
Orlando Utilities Commission
This is a very different scenario, and one that calls on other aspects of the OpenScape UC Suite 2011. Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) was faced with a more localized problem, that being the difficulty of getting better attendance for business meetings. They are a multi-site operation, and had an awkward patchwork of voice mail systems and dialing plans. Aside from being prone to missing messages, employees had very limited capabilities that would facilitate collaboration in this environment.
OpenScape was able to address this in a variety of ways. First, OpenScape provided everyone with a consistent dial plan and voice mail platform. Second, collaboration features such as IM, conferencing and desktop fax provided a big step up from what existed before. Building on this, OpenScape Web Collaboration added web-based options for mobile employees to participate in meetings, while traveling between sites or while working out-of-office either on their smartphones or notebooks. With these tools in place, there have been fewer obstacles to attend meetings, and participation has greatly improved.
The same outcome has been achieved for collaboration in general. Ad hoc meetings can now quickly be organized, and conducted on the fly with audio, web or video conferencing, even from a notebook. OUC has long been wary of using IM, despite its virtues for speeding up workflows. OpenScape UC addresses this with a feature that restricts IM usage to internal employees, and with that security measure in place, employees now have another productivity tool to work with.
On a more practical level, OpenScape UC Suite 2011 has achieved some tangible cost savings. Moves, adds and changes (MACs) can now be self-managed, eliminating the need for a truck roll from the local telco to the workplace. OUC has also realized about $20,000 in annual savings for audio/web conferencing services contracts, and they canceled a $15,000 expenditure to replace a fax service. Over time, OUC will likely find other ways to reduce costs.
This German company provides software and IT services to tax consultants, auditors and lawyers, who rely on remote access to support their clients.
While this remote access approach benefits both parties – less travel time, fewer in-person meetings, 24/7 access, etc. – DATEV needed a collaboration tool that could provide highly secure remote support. With their customers being business professionals, there is a core need to transfer confidential electronic documents, so security was paramount. Furthermore, this tool enabled them to explain complex accounting processes, present evaluations, as well as provide remote training and client support for questions about DATEV programs. These are all intense activities requiring applications that make collaboration an effective alternative to time-consuming in-person meetings.
The intuitive nature of OpenScape Web Collaboration makes it easy to use, which is important, since DATEV does not expect their clients to be experts with communications systems. There is real business value here for DATEV, since the more their clients utilize this remote support service, the less time they have to spend with onsite visits, either for technical issues or product training. In this regard, OpenScape Web Collaboration provides distinct value as a productivity enabler, especially since DATEV’s clients need to maximize their billable time and minimize time spent in meetings or on lengthy phone calls with DATEV. Furthermore, OpenScape Web Collaboration provides a rich set of tools, and over time, they can add value to remote support with more interactive modes such as video, chat or click-to-call.
DATEV may be a simpler scenario than the previous two, but the fit with OpenScape Web Collaboration is very clear, as are the benefits. They want to continue relying on remote support, and this solution allows them to do so, but also gives DATEV more options to enhance the experience without adding cost. Not only will this help clients get better results with DATEV, but it enables them to provide better service to their clients. The net result is an enhanced communications environment that makes it easier to do business, which will translate into improved customer satisfaction with DATEV’s clients, from which higher sales should follow.
This paper is sponsored by Siemens Enterprise Communications.