Marquette University in Milwaukee has 11,000 students and 1,00 faculty and staff. As an independent university, they’ve got to make their budgets add up, so when they started to build three new campus buildings, they looked at the cost of the core services they provide – including their phone systems. What they did was replace their existing PBX phone system with a unified communications system – chopping their annual telecom costs in half, saving $120,000 a year.
I only know about this because of the story on the CIO Australia website, written by Shane O’Neill. There’s detailed background about the decisions they took (and the alternatives they explored) to get them to where they are today – 1,000 staff using Lync as a replacement for their telephones, and adding audio & video conferencing, as well as instant messaging.
The full article is definitely worth a read, as one of the key elements is the key learnings that they made whilst doing the switch:
- Get users ready for a cultural change: Not every user will react in the same way – some will embrace the change, others will just want a phone on the desk. So videoconferencing use varies from department to department.
- Offer training, and then follow up: Marquette trained before they rolled out Lync, and then followed on later with more detailed training in the new facilities, like video calls.
- Keep phones to help with transition: Although you could switch all of your users to software phones (with headsets plugged into their computers etc), there will be plenty of people that love picking up a handset .
Marquette used the Polycom 600 series phones, and as Dan Smith put it "The newer Polycom VoIP phones look and act like regular phones, and it’s important for people to still have a normal phone as a fallback when moving to a soft client like Lync."
When Microsoft switched to using Lync instead of phones on our desks, for at least six months I used my handset device more than my laptop headset. But now I’ve done away with the phone handset, and just use a headset, as I find it better. But I wouldn’t have believed that two years ago, when I was first getting used to VOIP phones