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October 2009 | Volume 12 / Number 10
Feature Story

VoIP System is Right on the Money for Chamber of Commerce (And the Secretary Loves It Too!)

By: Paula Bernier (News - Alert)

When the Arlington Chamber of Commerce recently elected to upgrade its NEC (News - Alert) Electra Elite system, which was in need of an upgrade to keep the voicemail system working reliably, it was the perfect opportunity to migrate to an IP-based system to lower costs and increase functionality. So, to the delight of both its secretary and money managers, it invested in an NEC Unified Communications (News - Alert)’ SV8100 communications server and UC for Business application, which now connects the chamber with the Center for Innovation at Arlington.

“As the scope of our work here at the Arlington Chamber continues to increase beyond the member services of a typical chamber, we need our communications systems to be more efficient and have more features,” says Randy Paine, IT manager for the chamber of commerce in Texas. “We wanted to have our staff at the Center for Innovation at Arlington on the same system as the staff at the main chamber building, so an IP-based system was a logical choice.

“It would have been expensive to upgrade the old analog system to connect the two buildings,” he adds. “This system was repurposed for use by tenants at the Center for Innovation (who did not need the features of the new system).”

All chamber employees now use the system, which offers both more productivity features and fewer maintenance issues, says Paine.

“The system is much easier for IT staff to maintain, resulting in fewer calls to our vendor,” he says. “Also, many more features are exposed to users through the software. No longer do our users need type a special sequence of codes into their phone in order to forward their calls – they can simply use the GUI interface and even look up the destination number in their phonebook.”

Paine says the biggest fan of the new system may be the chamber’s receptionist.

“Our old system didn’t even have caller ID; now our receptionist can quickly identify when one of our important investors is calling and route the call appropriately depending on the location and presence of staff resulting in much lower hold times,” he explains.

Meanwhile, those employees of the chamber that use smartphones enjoy the ability to listen to office voicemails and see faxes from the inbox on their phones, says Paine, a capability enabled by the new NEC system, which the chamber purchased through AIT Technologies.

The IP-based system also allows the staff at the Center for Innovation, which is a block and a half away from the main building, to use all of the same software and phone features “as if they were here in the building with us,” says Paine.

But for all the great productivity and ease-of-use capabilities of the new, IP-based system, in this day and age one of the most important considerations often comes down to the bottom line.

“There were direct cost savings by moving from analog lines and analog phones to all digital, resulting in cost savings of over 50 percent on our monthly bills,” says Paine.

The chamber also received a discount on the system itself for being part of the SV8100-UCB integration beta test. IT

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