TelstraClear wins Canon NZ VoIP and data business

TelstraClear is to install new IP telephony systems at Canon New Zealand, to replace the company's "ailing" legacy telephony technology.

Canon NZ's customer care manager, Mike Johnston, says there are two reasons for the new investment. First, historic technology investments had resulted in "layer upon layer" of technologies that were disconnected regionally.

Some of the technologies in use were "unwieldy, costly and no longer supported", says Johnston. Many of the telecomms services contracted were also similarly out of date and costly.

Johnston says Nortel PABXs and frame-relay networks, as well as individual lines and toll-free lines that were not being used but still being paid for, had to be addressed in a full system revision.

At the same time, Canon's business had moved in a different direction and had become much more centralized, he says. Two distinct call centers are now in operation -- in Auckland and Christchurch -- while warehousing and distribution has been centralized in Auckland.

In addition, many of Canon's photocopier products are now fully networked and have the ability to order their own supplies, as well as make service calls, without human intervention. The existing communications, phone and data infrastructure couldn't cope with this development.

A full RFP/RFI process was entered into last September, with Auckland-based Mimac consultancy being engaged to help with the process.

The result was that TelstraClear won the three-year deal, which will see it totally rebuild Canon NZ's telephony systems and then migrate these to VoIP, using Cisco's Unified Communications Manager 6.1 and Unified Contact Center Express.

The new system is to be implemented as a totally converged voice and data managed solution. This will allow anyone from anywhere within Canon to take contact center calls as required. As Canon is also a Microsoft shop, the VoIP system will integrate with Outlook calendars, so staff availability information will also be constantly updated.

Johnston says there are business continuity advantages to the telephony shift as well. Soft phones will mean contact center calls can be taken and serviced from home.

He adds that future development could see a further reduction in the number of fixed lines, as it will be possible for calls to be made to a fixed-line number and then seamlessly redirected to a mobile, for sales reps, for example.

Johnston says the changes represent a major capital investment for Canon, but will result in significant savings.

"It wasn't the cheapest option but it was the best," he says. "We were excited about how it could enable what we do."

After the September tender, submissions closed at the end of October. Suppliers were confirmed in December, and the contract was signed this month. The telephony and data systems will be rolled out through to August, and Johnston hopes to have the mobility part of the system in place by then, too.

TelstraClear's business development consultant, Sue Hartley, says the contract, which is backed by service-level agreements, will deliver greater efficiencies, as well as improved service.

Johnston says project management was a key requirement and seen as a significant value-add. It was specifically mentioned in the RFI, to get the system in place without disruption to customers.

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