As any regular Seamless Enterprise reader knows, Sprint doesn’t just talk about Unified Communications, we use it. Various bloggers here have talked about the benefits Sprint has seen in cost savings, power savings, streamlined networking, reduced real estate needs, and employee mobility.
As a result of these posts, we get a lot of questions about what Sprint experienced as we planned for and began deploying UC. So we thought we’d tell the story, starting at the beginning, to help provide an understanding of the issues and challenges – as well as the successes and benefits – that a UC implementation involves.
Because there’s a lot to tell, we’re going to offer up the Sprint UC story chapter by chapter, starting with the decision four years ago to embrace UC. So welcome to Chapter One in the Sprint UC Saga.
Way back in 2006, we saw an aging network infrastructure, one that was becoming more and more labor-intensive to support. We had almost 500 PBXs across the enterprise, and a lot of them were nearing the end of their useful life. Rather than keep this legacy infrastructure going, we looked at alternatives.
We talked about simply moving to a VoIP infrastructure, but we looked at this from all the angles. We could see that there had to be a role for mobility, and we didn’t see a switch to VoIP accommodating that sufficiently. On top of that, the cost of all-new VoIP phones would have been a barrier.
We were looking for three things:
• The technology had to be something that the employee base would readily adopt.
• The ability to move forward with a converged network, cost-effectively.
• Mobility had to be fully integrated.
We saw how corporate work styles had been changing. People were not tethered to their cubicles anymore. In fact, their “assigned” workspace was vacant as much as half the time. They were working in meeting rooms, at customer sites, at the coffee shop, or at home, and we needed a communications system that would accommodate and encourage that.
So the key issues for Sprint at that point were getting out of the business of PBX management, reducing our global number of operating circuits, moving to a centralized SIP trunk solution, and leveraging mobility.
It’s an understatement to say we got in on the ground floor with UC. The concept and the technology were truly in their infancy at that point. In my next post, we’ll talk about how that affected the planning that went into our move to UC.