Communication Transition At Raymond With Microsoft UC Solution
The desktop video conferencing that OCS allows is widely used across the organisation for various purposes including training, review of meetings etc.
Anywhere, anytime presence has become essential for the successful working of organisations in today’s day and age. With a mobile and diverse workforce spread across the globe, enabling anytime communication among employees is also important. Raymond was facing the same challenge when UC (Unified Communications) provided an answer to their communication dilemma.
Raymond is a 50 year old company dealing in textiles, apparels, engineering and retail areas. It has almost 30 plants across the country with 400 retail shops spread across 150 towns. In terms of technology, Raymond started its journey two years back, when the organisation decided its enterprise architecture. After looking at various options, which were in the market, Raymond decided to standardize on one architecture that was based on various Microsoft tools, products and services.
Earlier, the company used a Linux-based communication system for e-mail and instant messaging. They had 35 e-mail servers all over the country and mails were filtered through a service provider. The company had also allocated a lot of staff to manage these mail servers. If any person complained about any problem with their respective mail systems, all the investigation and check-up would take at least two days time because of the sheer architecture involved.
Vijay Hinge, GM-IT, Raymonds, says, "Backing up 35 mail servers and giving them attention was a herculean task that demanded a lot of time, energy and efficiency. After considering other platforms, it was decided that Exchange was the right platform, as Outlook was anyway the most preferred mail client. Thus, the company went in for centralised deployment of Exchange 2007. Along with this, Sharepoint 2007 was also deployed. For instant messaging LC, which is a bi-communication server, was upgraded to OCS, which is an Office Communication Server. And finally, as a cherry on the cake, Windows Media Server was also deployed".
Presently, there are 3,500 users all over the country and some more stationed abroad. The benefits reaped out of the implementation are immense. Firstly, each user can now access e-mail from any device i.e. desktop, laptop or a mobile phone and that too, securely and instantaneously. A Sharepoint portal has also been implemented, which provides access to information via Sharepoint or Exchange.
Calendaring, scheduling, team collaboration, storing documents or projects can now all be achieved through one portal. Apart from that, OCS provides instant messaging, desktop and video conferencing with single party or multiple parties. Earlier video-conferencing was used to address plant workers from the HO. However, this had its own limitations. It was time bound and available easily only to the top management. Now with the desktop video conferencing that OCS allows, use of this facility has become very common. It is used constantly for training purpose, to review meetings etc.
"With the sheer availability of this tool, one can actually come up with a lot of ideas. For example, in one of the units of Raymond, the quality of the final garments was being checked by design people sitting in a remote place. With the introduction of desktop conferencing, the designer is able to comment on the garment while it is being made. Thus, the facility helps in new product development and quality checking," says Hinge.
In Raymond's retail operations, earlier a lot of field visits were involved. Now most of the work is happening over 'Live Meetings'. Due to this, there is almost 80-85 per cent cost reduction. Employee travel from HO to plants has also reduced helping in cost reduction of up to 30-40 percent.
The Exchange deployment including the migration took about three months from May-July 2007. Most of the time was taken to migrate users. The actual deployment happened over two weeks. Apparently, there were not many post-implementation challenges as people were already using Outlook as a mail client.
Raymond is also using UC as a SaaS offering from Microsoft, to be more specific it uses a solution called 'Live Meeting'.
Currently, retail and learning and development are key users. Raymond is getting departments like quality, production and safety also to become more tech savvy. They are also extending this system to Raymond’s joint venture partners, so that they can also contribute and utilise it for their benefits.
Which organisations should ideally go for this deployment? If an organisation is already video conferencing, then it can be replaced with this. An organisation wishing to deploy this communication solution should have proper hardware and skills in place to maintain the implementation. As these become mission critical applications, it is necessary to have 100 per cent uptime.
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