Unified Communications

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February 18, 2009

SWIFT Adopts Cisco Telepresence Units with Unified Communications from BT

By Erik Linask, Group Managing Editor

When talking about the adoption of IP Communications to enable enhanced communications among multinational and global organizations, there are fewer organizations more familiar with global communications than SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which effectively as a messaging hub and delivery service for the global financial community. Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT enables its members to exchange financial information via a proprietary communications platform. It also acts as a facilitator of collaboration for the global financial industry, driving best practices, standards, and greater efficiency in transaction processing among its more that 8,300 members institutions.

So, given it’s truly global nature and inherent need to maintain the integrity and security of its own messaging platform, SWIFT is naturally at the forefront of the latest communications technology. As such, it is also unsurprising that it is now adopting a video communications solution to connect five of its key offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Using five Cisco TelePresence units, and BT’s Unified Communications (News - Alert) solution, SWIFT will now have the benefit of an immersive meeting environment connecting these five major facilities. 
Telepresence (News - Alert), and video conferencing solutions in general, have increasingly gained attention, especially in today’s economy, with businesses focusing more than ever on cost savings. Telepresence solutions enable significant reductions in travel costs, while increasing collaboration and decision making capabilities at the same time — a win-win situation.
The three-year managed services deal with BT (News - Alert) will not only bring the benefits of face-to-face communications between the five Cisco 3000 Series HD telepresence units, but will make further use of SWIFT’s own carrier-grade backbone, which enables continuity of critical business processes, and now also its video communications infrastructure.
The Cisco (News - Alert) TelePresence System 3000 includes three 65-inch HD plasma monitors set on one side of a table, with six seats across the table from the virtual seats. Though it is optimally designed for 12 meeting participants (six local and six virtual), the solution can host as many as 48 locations on a single multipoint meeting. The system also includes cameras, lighting, microphones, and speakers, all positioned to deliver a lifelike video communications experience.
“Cisco TelePresence technology helps our teams across the globe to interact and collaborate as if they were in the same room,” explained Francis Vanbever, SWIFT’s CFO. “It brings us numerous advantages in the areas of efficiency, cost-control, and carbon emission reduction.”
In addition to the five telepresence units, BT will provide the necessary equipment to support the system and connect it to the SWIFT network, as well as managed services, like BT’s OneCare Plus and Concierge services, which include 24/7 helpdesk support and on-site maintenance, proactive system monitoring and remote diagnostics.
It’s not an inexpensive solution by any means — likely somewhere just shy of $1 million — but the benefits are apparent.
HSBC, which recently deployed six Cisco TelePresence systems, claims it can save as much as $50,000 for a trip that would have required three people to travel between Hong Kong and Chicago.
“Our current meeting and collaboration tools provide significant increases in productivity, but are no substitute for in-person meetings,” said HSBC Chief Information Officer Ken Harvey.  “Cisco Telepresence gives us the experience and benefit of actually being in the room with colleagues on the other side of the world, without having to pack a suitcase.”

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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