Global Crossing Takes First
Steps in Unified Communications "> While most enterprise IT shops today still dont know what Unified Communications really is, information systems leaders at Global Crossing in 2005 had a pretty good idea of what it was and how the company could benefit from it. On Oct. 16, Global Crossing IS leaders will participate in the launch of Microsofts UC platform and demonstrate how their UC implementation via Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 helped improve worker productivity by streamlining exception handling.In trying to transform business processes by automating operational workflows two years ago, Michael Fuqua, senior vice president of IS at Global Crossing, saw that users had to deal with a lot of exceptions, which would take them out of the business application they were working in. "My teams were building platforms to automate business rules, but there was always some exception to the process. [Users] would stop a process, write down some information, get out of their application, go the phone, look up a person in a directory, figure out who to escalate to and come back to the application later," described Fuqua, in Rochester, N.Y. In looking to UC to streamline that, "I wanted to figure out how to keep that communications activity in the business application itself when the exception happened, solve it then and move along as fast as possible. I basically wanted to embed a communications tool into core business applications," he added. With the aim of using APIs [Application Program Interfaces] to bring the exception communications activities into core business applications, Fuqua and his team evaluated "all the available tools at the time" and chose to work with Microsofts Live Communications Server. "What grabbed us was their strategy and where it was going," said Fuqua. The game plan when Global Crossing began its LCS rollout in September 2005 was to standardize chat activity and chat service structures across the company. So Global Crossing selected an enterprise IM (Instant Message) client that would allow it to link into and support "outside AOL addresses or the like to have contacts with people outside the company," he explained. The next step was to take the presence awareness capability of LCS and embed it into Global Crossings Peoplefinder Intranet application, which was used heavily across the company to gather organizational data as well as contact information for Global Crossing employees. Then after publicizing the new embedded communications capability so that business owners and users could see how it could be used within their own functions, the IS team embedded the LCS presence awareness function into a couple of core business applications. "If the business wasnt asking for it, Id approach the business owner, demonstrate a prototype and have them think about how theyd use it in their own process. With that demo we got instant adoption," said Fuqua. By the end of 2006, with LCS fully deployed across Global Crossing, Fuquas team saw the next steps Microsoft was taking with Office Communications Server 2007 and chose to beta test the follow-on to LCS. "We saw it as more powerful with richer presence, telephony and [support] for more audio and video actions," he said. After beginning with a small beta test with 30 users, Fuquas team ramped up the OCS 2007 deployment across larger and larger numbers of users, and then across the whole company in September to some 5,300 users around the globe. Despite the embedded IP PBX functions within OCS 2007, Global Crossing has not used it to replace existing traditional or IP PBXs yet. "We have not physically replaced [PBXs], but thats our objective. We stopped all deployment of any other telephony equipment in mid-2007. We will look to displace some PBXs, except in the major call center," said Fuqua. Page 2: Global Crossing Takes First Steps in Unified Communications
To read more about the Microsoft Unified Communications introduction, click here.