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October 06, 2010

ShoreTel Emphasizes Business Communications Should Be 'Brilliantly Simple'

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

Let the anti-complexity movement begin!

That was the opening salvo from Kevin Gavin (News - Alert), vice president of marketing at ShoreTel, during his keynote presentation Tuesday afternoon at ITEXPO in Los Angeles.

Recent research shows that $6 trillion worldwide is wasted each year due to IT complexity, he said, so complexity is not just an IT problem -- it’s a social issue.

Gavin said there are two common paths to complexity. One happens when companies modify their legacy technology over time to address customer needs, but in the process pile on the complexity. The second path involves vendors that bolt together different solutions that they acquire along the way, which results in a mish-mash of different code bases, user interfaces, and the like.

A perverse paradox of the issue is that the very vendors that create this complexity also benefit from it through vendor lock-in, and the ability to generate new fees for stuff like additional customer support and training, said Gavin.

Meanwhile, businesses buying their solutions suffer with gear that is expensive to install and maintain, and difficult to scale.

“It’s time to put an end to this complexity,” he said. “It’s time to kick complexity to the curb.”

When complexity goes away, he noted, businesses can focus on their businesses while their total cost of ownership drops significantly.

That’s why ShoreTel (News - Alert) is all about simplicity. And because it didn’t have legacy to bring forward, it doesn’t deliver kludged together solutions. Gavin challenged other vendors in the communications arena to make their solutions easier to deploy and easier to manage as well, and he urged buyers to demand simple and elegant solutions.

Gavin also invited Rustan Williams, vice president and CIO of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, to describe how his organization’s search for a simple, yet feature-rich, and workable solution led him to ShoreTel.

Williams illustrated how the religious, charitable, nonprofit long-term care organization – which provides more than 243 locations and 20,000 residents in 24 states with a variety of assistance including skilled nursing, assisted living, senior housing and home health – is benefiting from the ShoreTel solution. It adopted ShoreTel after dropping its legacy platform and rejecting a competing solution that it found too complex after using at two of its sites.

The legacy platform, he said, had telephone sets there were not user-friendly, and staff had a hard time transferring calls. Remote moves, additions and changes were slow due to modem download speeds. There was an inability to monitor users, stations, trunks, etc. The legacy platform also lacked interoperability – there was no five-digital dialing between locations, no toll bypass, and no global directory. And VoIP and UC were very difficult, he added.

After testing one of the newer solutions by another contender, the organization found that was too complex to install, maintain and would’ve required the addition of personnel to support. So it dropped that idea.

Then the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society took a look at ShoreTel, which Williams said came into consideration later in the process. Williams indicated he pretty much had his mind made up that the other remaining contender would get the business, but after one of his people was able to easily install the ShoreTel system using just the directions in the box in which it came, Williams said he started to pay attention.

Today, the Good Samaritan Society is a satisfied user of the ShoreTel solution.

Williams said the company’s telephones are user-friendly and intuitive to use. The system is easier to administer for the entire enterprise using a single web-based browser application. The licensing model is simple to understand. It allows center locations to administer their music on hold in the same manner as in the past. And it’s easy to establish video calls in a point-to-point fashion for locations with adequate WAN bandwidth.

For more on ShoreTel, look for the October issue of Unified Communications Magazine, a TMC (News - Alert) publication. The print issue is available now. The digital issue will post on TMCnet later this month.

Edited by Tammy Wolf


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