How to Use Mobile UC to Increase Productivity and Reduce Mobile Costs

 
 
By Ross Teague  |  Posted 2008-04-03
 
 
 

How to Use Mobile UC to Increase Productivity and Reduce Mobile Costs


My company, ITEC Intelligent Services, is very focused on matching businesses with a mobile solution that helps them be more competitive. We have already found several ideal candidates among hospitals, schools and hotels for one of our favorite emerging technologies: mobile UC (unified communications). These types of businesses need to lower mobile communications costs through increased productivity and reduced cell plan costs. But one of our customers, a rugby club, is turning out to be an unexpectedly perfect fit.

This rugby club has an interesting challenge to explain because the entity in question is a sports team. However, the pain points are common to businesses around the world. Because the club's players are recruited from other countries, the club's long-distance calling charges are astronomical. Also, the nearly 50 stewards (the folks who help fans find their seats) must constantly use their mobile phones to do their jobs. Because of this, they rack up tons of minutes. Stewards start using their mobile phones an hour before a game and they don't stop again until an hour after it's finished.

Address Astronomical Cell Phone Costs

To address these cost issues, the rugby club investigated a number of solutions. As a result, they have decided to employ the DiVitas Mobile UC solution throughout the rugby stadium, in the clubhouse and in the players' apartments. Once this employment is done, the players will be in range of a wireless network about 70 percent of the time. This means that their calls will be placed mostly over free Wi-Fi versus costly cellular.

At the same time, the stewards will be in Wi-Fi range 100 percent of the time. After factoring the cost of the solution against cost savings, the club anticipates achieving an ROI within seven to nine months.

Assess the Environment Before Deployment

While the rugby club demonstrated a clear need for a mobile UC solution, there was a formal process we went through to better understand their requirements and environment. These steps apply to any environment rolling out the DiVitas Mobile UC solution-whether it's a professional club dedicated to a 150-year-old sport or an international bank.

What is the challenge? First off, we need to qualify the requirement in terms of a company's pain points. While the rugby club is focused on cost savings, most businesses are also considering such a solution for increased productivity and control over issues such as policy compliance. This is why mobile UC is such a good fit for industries such as health care, education, hospitality, retail and manufacturing.

Employees in these industries are highly mobile and need to be constantly reachable by either voice, e-mail or other messaging applications such as instant messaging. Also, they need to have their availability broadcasted with presence. They need to be able to be contacted via a single business number, which resides on a single mobile phone that behaves exactly like a desk phone (except that it's mobile).

How to Use Mobile UC to Increase Productivity and Reduce Mobile Costs


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WLAN Quality and Existing Infrastructure

What is the WLAN (wireless LAN) quality? We need to determine the range of the company's Wi-Fi signal and how many access points are set up. It's not necessary to blanket the entire campus with access points-just the areas where the most calling is expected to take place.

What components does the existing network infrastructure include? We assess the environment to see what the infrastructure has and what it is missing, and we determine the associated costs with making any changes to the network. We also look to see if there is a WLAN in place. Is there an IPPBX? How will a mobile UC solution integrate with the PBX infrastructure? Is it possible to put a SIP trunk between the PBX and DiVitas server, or is a gateway necessary?

Existing Voice Quality and Desired Handsets

What is the existing voice quality? We have to look at how congested the existing network is. We also do tests to show how much latency there is. Implementing QOS (quality of service) is a simple solution to the problem of latency because it enables applications such as voice to be prioritized. Low latency and QOS are key to a successful deployment.

Another question to answer is, which handset does the business want? Because the issue of handset preference can be so personal, we prefer when it's a corporate decision. That way it's a tool and not a fashion accessory.

More Productivity at Lower Costs

Companies today want to find a way to make more employees more productive, and at the least cost possible. At the same time, some organizations (such as a professional sports team comprised of players from around the world) are more focused on saving money by reducing mobile minutes and overseas dialing fees.  What we like about mobile UC is that it addresses both of these challenges.

While there is a long list of benefits offered by DiVitas, the rugby club is focused squarely on reducing money spent on its cell plan. It aims to cut down on overseas dialing fees, use fewer mobile minutes and control the cost of each mobile minute.

 Ross Teague is Director of ITEC Intelligent Services, a network integration services company based in Wokingham, England. It specializes in VOIP and IP telephony, LAN and WAN, wireless and network security technologies. Mr. Teague can be reached at rosst@itec-is.co.uk.

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