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Case Study: CAU Turns to Siemens Enterprise for UC, VoIP

The historic institution knew it needed a new communications platform right away after its legacy system crashed.

Channel Partners

June 1, 2011

4 Min Read
Case Study: CAU Turns to Siemens Enterprise for UC, VoIP

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) in Atlanta, Ga., is an historic institution reaching nearly 4,000 students. The origins of the university  Clark College, the first private liberal arts school in the country for African Americans, and Atlanta University, the nations oldest graduate institution  date back to Reconstruction. Today, CAU, which in 1988 consolidated Clark College and Atlanta University onto one campus in the heart of Atlanta, offers 38 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral degree and specialist programs with the aim of developing socially, globally responsible leaders.

The Challenge. By 2009, CAU realized its aged and inflexible telecommunications system was failing to keep pace with larger technological changes. But in 2010, the legacy systems limitations reached a critical point when parents, inquiring about changes in federal financial aid policies, flooded the school with almost three times the normal call volume and overwhelmed the system.

At that point, CAUs new associate vice president and CIO, Reggie Brinson, knew the situation had to be fixed sooner rather than later. We couldnt see all the calls that were coming in,” he said. This was unacceptable.” CAU officials agreed and charged Brinson with finding a new platform that would cut costs while also improving functionality and expanding capability.

It turned out that the call volume incident was just one of several larger, ongoing communications challenges that needed to be addressed. For one, the legacy PBX had reached end-of-life and CAU could not take full advantage of the switchs narrow VoIP features; the school would have to invest in a new server and software to achieve that goal. Second, CAUs annual contract with its long-term telecom service provider was about to expire; the rates were expensive and CAU wanted to reconsider its entire approach to its communications systems and contracts. Third, CAU knew it wanted a unified communications (UC) platform that would easily manage its phones, faxes, SMS communications and voice messaging, especially during high-volume periods such as registration. Finally, CAU had to balance a new investment with budget constraints and take a smarter, long-term approach to technology.  

The Solution. From the time Brinson arrived at CAU in August 2009, he knew the schools communications capabilities were rapidly becoming obsolete. Working closely with Phyllis McCrary, the schools telecommunications manager, Brinson proposed moving CAU to a campuswide UC system that would incorporate IP phones, improve call center capability and phase out many analog phones.

CAU looked at several platforms but ultimately chose the open, SIP-based UC product from Siemens Enterprise Communications, which included OpenScape Voice Application and OpenScape Contact Center running on the OpenScape UC Server. Since OpenScape uses open standards, CAU plans to integrate its communications system with the new Microsoft Live@edu student email system and SharePoint collaboration platform for faculty and staff.

But CAU didnt want to tackle implementation on its own, so it opted to work with Black Box Network Services, one of the worlds largest value-added resellers. We were looking to acquire a solution we could depend upon in terms of its longevity and fit, and looking progressively at where the capabilities would go forth,” Brinson said. We didnt want to repeat the past.”

The Results. Migrating to Siemens Enterprise Communications OpenScape UC Service and associated voice and contact center applications brought about several benefits for CAU. Some of the most notable improvements include:

  • A 50 percent reduction in ongoing support costs CAU had been locked into an expensive contract with a company whose communications platform could not provide the full capabilities CAU needed and that also was close to obsolescence. By switching to Siemens Enterprise Communications OpenScape and Black Boxs consulting services, CAU eliminated costs for forced, Band-Aid”-type fixes and add-ons.

  • New capabilities and convenience for students, faculty, and staff Users can take advantage of integrated IP phone, voice messaging, and SMS communications anywhere on campus, which makes for true mobile capability. Students, faculty and staff also have access to caller ID and more call center features that better handle inbound calls.

  • A partnership with a responsive, visionary VAR CAU was able to move from an unsatisfactory support relationship to one that not only met our current business requirements but could help us with what we should be looking at going forward,” Brinson said.

  • Minimal implementation disruption due to phased installation CAU needed a communications platform that could accommodate continued use of analog phones for an unspecified period of time.

  • Improved customer experience With Siemens OpenScape UC technology and the help of Black Box, CAU was able to immediately give users more options and services, reducing frustration and call wait times. CAU also is counting on OpenScapes scalability and other advantages to help it stay abreast of, and plan for, emerging communications trends.

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