How cloud-based collaboration helps small firms compete for big business

Corporate Networks started by adopting unified communications-as-a-service in its own data centre. Now it’s passing the benefits on to enterprise clients

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At Corporate Networks, we’ve been committed to providing clients with hosted UC solutions for some time. We were operating an internal data centre that required a lot of resources, both human and technological, and the expense was significant—not to mention the challenge of finding and retaining the specific expertise we needed in a small, competitive market like Fort McMurray. To simplify and offload a lot of these issues, we were planning to move to a new, cloud-based data centre, but as it turned out, there was a lot more we could do to both streamline and enhance our offerings.

We’d been using Cisco technology in our data center for several years. During discussions, Cisco suggested we look at Allstream’s HCS (Hosted Collaboration Solution), which—with the resources of a larger company—took the kinds of things we’d been doing to a new level. We’d already mapped out our goals in detail and knew what we wanted to do—and Allstream fit perfectly into that model. We met with them to discuss the project: expectations, cost savings, operational gains. The potential advantages around cost structures, combined with the ability to pass those savings on to customers while also offering new services, were appealing. The basic end model was that Allstream and Corporate Networks would partner and migrate Corporate Networks’ hosted VoIP solution to provide the HCS to all current and future clients.

Once the transition process began and we started connecting and integrating our infrastructures, there were, of course, a few hiccups, as there are in all such projects. It was clear, though, that Allstream was committed to success, both management leadership and the technical team in Toronto. In fact, the first HCS deployment was accomplished with the Allstream team working entirely from Toronto. Now, implementation and data/application migration has taken place, and things are running extremely well.

A lot of planning and coordination—with  the telcos, Allstream, 911 services, end users (our clients)—is necessary to make this kind of project seamless for everyone. For example, having to work with multiple telcos and porting numbers from one to another was a project coordination headache that delayed the project by almost two months. But between Allstream’s team and ours, we handled it as effectively as possible. To smooth switchover on the client service and support side, we made sure we had resources on-site to resolve any issues before the client even arrived at office in the morning after the cutover. Coordination between ourselves and Allstream was critical to the overall success of this project—and given the level of that success, we expect the future of our relationship to be very bright.

With the HCS offering in place, we’re expanding our market presence and taking on larger enterprise clients. It just goes to show that the size of your company does not determine the size of your service capabilities, providing you have the right internal approach and external partnerships in place. We might be small, but we do things in as structured a way as possible, which was critical to this implementation. We also did an internal post mortem to ensure that any future initiatives would be even smoother.



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