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Audubon Nature Institute Case Study

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Case Studies

Audubon museums and parks discover that ultra-reliable ShoreTel is the best value and natural choice for an IP system

Audubon Nature Institute

Integration among 10 venues

Audubon Nature Institute is a family of 10 museums and parks dedicated to nature. The organization needed a telephony system integrated with all of its properties and offering total availability in case of an unexpected event.

The journey from outdated communications to an innovative system

Audubon Nature Institute began a vendor search to replace the 10-year-old Nortel communications system. Performing the necessary software and hardware upgrades was impractical and cost-prohibitive.

Audubon opted to move to a voice-over-IP (VoIP) system that could outfit all the venues with desktop integration and the latest communication features. The implementation needed to be deployed in phases to avoid disruption. Installation started with the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, then the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Audubon Zoo, and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.

Audubon Nature Institute evaluated several potential vendors. “We looked at Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and ShoreTel, and were very impressed with ShoreTel’s ability to deploy the system in one facility, tie it into the Nortel system, and eventually start turning on service at the other venues,” says Andy Landry, information system director, Audubon Nature Institute. “Since ShoreTel had more features, was ultra-reliable, easy to manage and use, the system was clearly the best value.”

ShoreTel delivers a reliable communications solution and shaves expenses

Prior to the ShoreTel deployment, many of Audubon’s remote employees were using cellular phones, which proved to be problematic. For example, inside the aquarium, a cell phone cannot transmit a cellular signal through three feet of concrete and 100,000 gallons of water. Then there’s the species survival center, which is on more than 10 acres of land and has no reliable cellular service.

“Many of our employees work in remote areas without cell signals, and they’re dealing with wild animals. If there is an issue or emergency, the ability to communicate is both urgent and critical. Two-way radios do not reach beyond other facilities. That’s why we have to have hard phone lines internally and they have to be reliable. The ShoreTel system is virtually fail-proof,” remarks Landry.

“WHEN YOU LOOK AT PRICE VERSUS PERFORMANCE, EASE OF USE, AND EASE OF SERVICE, FROM AN IT PERSPECTIVE IT WAS ALL THERE. AND, SINCE SHORETEL HAD MORE FEATURES AND WAS ULTRARELIABLE, THE SYSTEM WAS CLEARLY THE BEST VALUE.”

Andy Landry, Information System Director
Audubon Nature Institute

ShoreTel’s call center solution is the ticket to cost savings

Audubon’s call center handles group reservations and ticketing for all venues. According to Landry, the ShoreTel Contact Center was much easier to set up and use than the Nortel system, which required a Nortel certified person on-site to manage any changes such as programming for every move or new employee. With ShoreTel, changes can be handled by the computer-user, instead of a specialized phone expert.

“MANY OF OUR EMPLOYEES WORK IN REMOTE AREAS WITHOUT CELL SIGNALS, AND THEY’RE DEALING WITH LIONS AND OTHER WILD ANIMALS. IF THERE IS AN INCIDENT, A POTENTIAL OR ACTUAL ESCAPE, THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS BOTH URGENT AND CRITICAL.”

The call center software is also easier for IT to manage, which means fewer support resources need to be allocated to those tasks. “To add users and move phones, you just pick up the phone and plug it in. That’s a cost savings. I thought I’d need to add another employee – now we’ve freed up enough time that a new hire is not necessary,” says Landry.

Audubon says goodbye to expensive third-party conferencing

Throughout Audubon Nature Institute, the need for conference calling capabilities has risen substantially. In the Human Resources department, videoconferencing changed the interview process. Open positions at Audubon draw people from all over the world. Not surprisingly, it’s much more cost-effective to initially videoconference with potential new hires than fly them to headquarters. Prior to the ShoreTel installation, the organization used GoToMeeting, which was an added expense. It also retired a Sony system when employees transitioned to using the ShoreTel conference bridge.

Adding mobility as the next strategic communications building block

Audubon Nature Institute is exploring the added benefits of mobility, which would integrate employee mobile devices with the existing ShoreTel communication applications and infrastructure. From any location, and on any network, employees would have access to the full suite of mobile UC tools. With the ShoreTel Dock, the mobile workforce would still have a home base. “I have my office here at the zoo, but I go to every facility. So, once we add the mobility product, I could be anywhere, but it’ll be like I’m still at my desk,” says Landry.

“I HAVE MY OFFICE HERE AT THE ZOO, BUT I GO TO EVERY FACILITY. SO, ONCE WE ADD THE MOBILITY PRODUCT, I COULD BE ANYWHERE, BUT IT’LL BE LIKE I’M STILL AT MY DESK.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Louisiana-based Audubon Nature Institute was using a decade-old Nortel system. Audubon decided to retire the equipment rather than invest in upgrades. Seamless communication among the zoo, aquarium, butterfly garden/insectarium, and remote species survival center was essential.

SOLUTION:

  • Audubon deployed the ShoreTel IP phone system with 500 phones, based on the integration capabilities, features, and functionality. ShoreTel’s distributed architecture ensured no single point of failure, which was a plus.

BENEFITS:

  • Robust UC features, easy-touse solution
  • Simplified integration with other systems
  • Ease of IT administration
  • Lower TCO than competitors
  • 99.999% availability