Hitachi Consulting Case Study
ShoreTel supports Hitachi Consulting’s virtual teams while slashing voice costs
Rigid, inflexible phone system
When the Dallas-based IT software specialist was spun off as an independent entity, it was clear that the existing phone system was too rigid and disjointed to mesh the new company’s far-flung offices into a single, virtual resource pool.
A single-view system, toll bypass, and unified management
For the first six months, the new company shared the existing infrastructure, which included a brandnew Avaya phone system. “While all the offices had a common switch platform, the installations were done by local technicians who had their own way of doing things, so the system was not really the same at every site,” says Michael Shisko, IT director for Hitachi Consulting. “I found myself administering 12 different phone systems.”
Also, different features were turned on at the various sites, and sometimes the same code was used for different functions. This made it difficult for the consulting firm’s highly mobile staff to use the phones as they traveled from office to office. There was a single management console, but it didn’t provide a single-system view.
As the consulting firm planned the move to its own offices, a better voice solution seemed in order. “We wanted a phone system that would provide five-digit dialing across all offices, local phone numbers for each office, toll bypass, and unified management. We knew we weren’t going to have resident IT staff at each office, which we were used to, so remote administration was important. We didn’t want anyone to have to go on-site to do anything,” explains Shisko.
VoIP platforms were evaluated and Cisco’s solution was rejected as too complex and costly. Other VoIP solutions were dismissed because they didn’t allow local phone numbers for each office, or implemented them by forwarding local DIDs across an 800 trunk and running up big and unpredictable long-distance charges in the process.
The consulting firm decided to stick a toe into the VoIP waters with an installation in the Seattle office. “The system, which was based on the ShoreTel IP PBX, was a big hit, so we decided to roll ShoreTel into our new offices as we moved into them,” Shisko says.
ShoreTel’s unified network boosts productivity
ShoreTel’s Call Manager gives employees unified messaging and access to a dial-by-name directory that integrates with Microsoft Outlook. The extremely intuitive Call Manager user interface required virtually no training, and employees were soon availing themselves of features that had previously been inaccessible to all but a handful of telecom gurus.
Much of Hitachi Consulting’s workforce is highly mobile, and the consultants and salespeople can be just as productive when they find themselves temporarily in a different office. They simply log in to the local network, and any calls made to their home-office numbers automatically follow them. The ShoreTel client gives them access to all the same features in exactly the same way.
The unified network serves customers better
ShoreTel’s unified, intelligent network provides a platform for ad hoc voice collaboration by virtual teams, enabling multi-site professionalservices firms to leverage their key asset—human expertise—more fully for the benefit of clients. “Collaboration is about knowledge sharing, and trying to do this in real time without voice doesn’t make any sense,” Shisko says.
ShoreTel’s distributed voice system makes it very easy for formal or impromptu groups to mesh together as needed. Hitachi Consulting now makes heavy use of voice conferencing, logging some 140,000 minutes of conference calls per month. The use of these virtual meetings continues to expand.
“WE WANTED A PHONE SYSTEM THAT WOULD PROVIDE FIVE-DIGIT DIALING ACROSS ALL OFFICES, LOCAL PHONE NUMBERS FOR EACH OFFICE, TOLL BYPASS, AND UNIFIED MANAGEMENT. WE KNEW WE WEREN’T GOING TO HAVE RESIDENT IT STAFF AT EACH OFFICE, WHICH WE WERE USED TO, SO REMOTE ADMINISTRATION WAS IMPORTANT.”
Michael Shisko, IT Director
Hitachi Consulting’s offices don’t get walk-in business from clients, so there is no need for a resident receptionist. The ShoreTel network is connected to the overhead paging systems in each location, so the operator has the additional option of paging people if an important call doesn’t get picked up.
ShoreTel streamlines operations and saves $10,000 to $20,000 per month ShoreTel’s uniquely distributed architecture and intuitive management interface makes administration of multi-site networks very simple. Moves, adds, and changes that used to require expensive, time-consuming truck rolls now can be done in minutes from anywhere via the browserbased console.
The distributed, peer-to-peer architecture also makes the ShoreTel network highly available. Each ShoreTel Voice Switch has complete call control capabilities and can function as a standalone IP PBX if its site is suddenly cut off from the WAN. Conversely, if a particular switch goes or is taken offline, its peers at other locations on the ShoreTel network can cover for it.
“The ShoreTel system has been very, very reliable,” states Shisko. The ShoreTel system is also very easy to implement, so it is a simple matter to bring up new offices as they are added. This happens frequently at Hitachi Consulting, which has continued to grow throughout the economic downturn and now has 16 offices on the ShoreTel network.
Least-cost routing can be set up with a few mouse clicks, so long-distance calls made to outside numbers that fall within the local dialing radius of a Hitachi Consulting office automatically get routed over the IP network, bypassing the long-distance carrier. Employees don’t have to remember which numbers qualify, or use any special access methods.
“We didn’t anticipate any financial savings on long distance when we installed the ShoreTel system,” says Shisko. “We were thinking about a single numbering plan, a single management view, mobility, and so on.” Since the spinoff from the former parent, Hitachi Consulting has reduced the per-employee charges for long distance each month from $24 to $3—which does include a 50% drop in long-distance rates.
“We have been saving $10,000 to $20,000 per month, every month, since we installed the ShoreTel system,” concludes Shisko.
“THE SYSTEM, WHICH WAS BASED ON THE SHORETEL IP PBX, WAS A BIG HIT, SO WE DECIDED TO ROLL SHORETEL INTO OUR NEW OFFICES AS WE MOVED INTO THEM.”
- Sharing an existing infrastructure, which included a brand-new Avaya phone system, was dysfunctional. While all the offices had a common switch platform, the systems had different features, which varied from site to site.
- A ShoreTel VoIP system with ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel conferencing, and a wide range of other ShoreTel UC features.
- Advanced call handling
- Consolidation of communications across offices
- Access to ShoreTel from mobile devices
- Single-image system eases management