Graphic of technology devices and a cloud

Rolling In the Cloud

2 Jul 2015 by Harish Krishnamurthy

The future of the enterprise data center will be centered on Cloud computing. At times it may seem as if the Cloud is old news; we have been exploring the promise of the Cloud for decades and marking milestones such as the arrival of Salesforce.com in 1999 and Amazon Web Services in 2002. Each decade, it seems we have ushered in a new world of enterprise Cloud possibilities, and today innovation in Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is revolutionizing business.

 

Cloud-driven intelligent business technology such as VOIP may transform the way we look at computing and the data center. We haven’t seen widespread Cloud penetration and we’re still enchanted by the promise of efficiency the Cloud can deliver. One of those promises  is internet telephony, with the Cloud VOIP ushering in a new level of efficiency.

One great example is a bicycle company that knows a thing or two about agility that recently took its call center telephone system into the Cloud: Shimano American Corp., the U.S. division of the legendary Japanese bicycle manufacturer, recently assessed its operations and the company’s management realized it had to improve the speed and dexterity of its communications to remain competitive.

Out of five Shimano corporate offices in North America, only two were on the same phone system, with three on independent systems. Clearly the company needed to consolidate and find flexibility, functionality and ease of administration. Like any forward-looking business, Shimano American was thinking efficiency, scalability, and features such as extension dialing to reduce interoffice calls, internal videoconferencing and messaging, federated email servers, and the ability to bring all of those systems together.

The Clouds Rolls In

Many companies are looking for systems that could grow with them, and to Shimano American that growth meant improving the speed and dexterity of its communications to remain competitive.. Shimano was spending too much time managing its outdated phone equipment and wanted a state-of-the-art system with minimum hardware and technical support included. This problem and its solution are a prime example of the still burgeoning benefits of taking operations into the Cloud.

Challenge

Mike Davis, Shimano’s Senior Manager of IT said the comprehensive upgrade of its telephone and voice communication systems the company began with a look - feature by feature - for a truly Cloud-based system: no hardware. 

Shimano needed to update its phone system, but with an emphasis on scalability to accommodate growth. Whatever the solution was, it would have to offer 1) flexibility, including the capacity for reliable mobile communication and the ability to connect through multiple devices; 2) transmission quality, with crisper sound and calls that don’t “fall out;” 3) the ability to outsource hardware management and ongoing maintenance so employees could focus on their core responsibilities. For example, many Shimano employees travel — domestically and internationally — and need a phone connection so they can call overseas without paying international phone rates. Another key feature was giving employees the tech-driven tools to work remotely – such as the ability to roll calls seamlessly to cellphones.

But Shimano didn’t stop there. Other goals included improving connectivity for remote or traveling workers; and strengthening the sound quality and transmission reliability of calls. They wanted a system where a user could plug a headset into the side of a laptop and have a virtual office wherever they are. And they might as well have a mobile app that allows to route office calls to mobile devices and with a video conferencing solution. 

Solution

Insight worked with Davis on Shimano American’s assessment of its infrastructure and business priorities and ultimately recommended an 8x8 Cloud-based VoIP hosted collaborative solution as the one that would help Shimano workers communicate better at work and teleconference from mobile devices. The Cloud-based 8x8 system proved inexpensive to operate, with a flat rate bill per month – which eliminated a staggered invoice for how much time or how much long distance used. Also important, we found the 8x8 system designed within built-in redundancy. If there’s a quake in California, for instance, Shimano’s service and data will forward over to the next data center, so their business doesn’t miss a beat.

Shimano also wanted technical support included. What the Cloud offered, we discovered, was we could get rid of the on-premise equipment, get the latest-and-greatest features and give devices the mobile app, while alleviating all the day-to-day hardware management. We started in 2013 with moving approximately 300 Shimano American phone users — in the company’s California, Colorado and Canadian offices — into the 8x8 system. The process went relatively smoothly.

Results

After installation - without any system downtime, just the flip of a switch – Shimano had a system with call quality that is strong and consistent. It’s seeing substantial savings through lower phone bills and maintenance costs.

The future of the Cloud is hard to predict, and this is just one example of the many ways the future of Cloud computing will drive new and innovative efficiency. So long as companies strive to connect the world and serve customers in new ways, there will always be a need for Cloud computing – and forward-thinking organizations like Shimano are helping to lead the way into this future.