Unified Communications Featured Article

Australian Football Club Chooses ShoreTel Unified Communications

April 29, 2011

Today, many organizations are moving to unified communications: giant multinational corporations, consumer “big box” stores and even regional and national governments. But football clubs? Apparently, if you're an Australian football (soccer) club that until recently, relied on double A batteries and an ancient voice mail system.

Richard Arnott, the IT manager of Melbourne Football Club, knew the club had communications problems when he came on board in 2009. He immediately set out to find a new phone system, he told Computerworld Australia.

“It [the existing voice mail system] was stored in a safe and was held up by double A batteries - it was pretty scary,” said Arnott. “So my first day here, I got a call to say that the voice mail had gone down.”

Arnott also noticed that even the few features the current system had were unusable. “We had problems with voice mail reliability and the first thing I noticed was that people couldn’t use the features available,” he said. “The usability of the system was near impossible – people were using their mobile phones to call people down the hall.”

Ultimately, the club upgraded to ShoreTel's unified communications system. Prior to making that choice, Arnott looked at a number of vendors including Cisco. He eventually settled on ShoreTel’s unified communications system, attracted by its low cost and all-in-one nature.

“The club was looking at just a phone system and not a unified communications system, and it was my job to take on those discussions and try to change the way they think about IT and communications,” Arnott told Computerworld Australia.

Arnott said he was surprised at both the simplicity of the rollout and its subsequent usability. “I was astounded that on day one it was plugged in and ready to go without having to go through the training,” he said. “People could actually see the application and see where it was going to benefit them. A previous rollout I’ve done elsewhere, we’ve rolled out a system and I’ve had to run around from A to B to get people to use it.”

The ShoreTel investment has already achieved full ROI, though the club has no official numbers from its previous patchwork system. “We didn’t have any measurement prior to the changeover... the efficiency and uptime were two things we weren't able to measure prior to the roll-out,” said Arnott.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve probably already reached an ROI just because we haven’t had to call in any engineers, we haven’t had any loss productivity, and the cost of the business of losing voice mails does have the potential to have an impact,” he said.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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