After last week’s Lync case study, of the Open University saving $3m through implementing unified communications to replace their existing telephone system, here’s another university case study of doing the same thing – and this time it’s the University of the West of England (UWE) near Bristol in the UK*
UWE has 30,000 students and 3,500 staff, and it’s under constant budget pressure as government funding drops. Their immediate challenge was to reduce operations cost by one quarter. Their project, to create a unified communications and collaboration system using Lync and SharePoint, saved them money and helped them to improve collaboration across their 19 departments and four sites.
By deploying Lync, the university were able to replace their existing telephone system (which was based on an IP-PBX system) and add easy to use audio conferencing, video conferencing and desktop sharing – for both staff and students. As Alistair Sandford, the Senior Project Manager said:
|We recognise that students want increased contact time with their lecturers. Lync can help us achieve this, by allowing the lecturers to make themselves available outside of the classroom hours, via instant messaging and conferencing.|
Teaching staff can now open a whiteboard to take notes or collaborate with students in real time, and they can record and save online class content as video files to share with students who missed classes or who need to review content for exams. The integration of SharePoint has involved redesigning their intranet portal with clearer navigation – creating a top-down centralised approach to creating and managing sites – to make life easier for all of their users.
The cost savings target at the university is to save £250,000 (about $400,000) a year through the replacement of their telephone system, and the travel savings possible – which will be delivered at the same time as improving communications and collaboration within the university. And the system also makes it easier for them to collaborate with the 50+ international partner institutions.
* The mention of the UK may be completely redundant, but when New England is in America, and the University of New England is in Australia, I thought it might be worth mentioning that the West of England is actually in England