Avaya TechTalk 007: The City of Taylor

By Guy Clinch

Now Playing: Avaya TechTalk 007: The City of Taylor

Avaya Tech Talk host Guy Clinch interviews Charlie Mitchell, account manager at SunTel. SunTel Services has been meeting the communication needs of commercial clients in Michigan since 1986. They provide complete life-cycle services for voice, data, and unified networks.

Guy is also joined by Eric French, system engineer at Avaya and the three discuss the recent deployment of a next generation communications network at the City of Taylor, Michigan. The Avaya technologies are saving the city significant costs while providing new efficient ways of delivering services to the citizens of Taylor.

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Transcript:

Guy:
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Good day, all! Guy Clinch here, advocate for the government customer in Avaya’s product development organization. Welcome to this week’s episode of Avaya Tech Talk. Tech Talk is designed to highlight the robust and growing community of technology partners and the unique solutions that they participate with Avaya to provide the government customers across the globe.

Today, please allow me to introduce to you Charlie Mitchell, account manager at SunTel. Charlie is an information technology and services consultant. SunTel Services, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, has been meeting the communication needs of commercial clients in Michigan since 1986.

We are also joined by Eric French, system engineer at Avaya. Charlie and Eric, welcome to Avaya Tech Talk.

Charlie:
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Hi, Guy.

Guy:
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Today we are discussing a recent deployment of next-generation communications networks serving the City of Taylor, Michigan. The City of Taylor is in the downriver area of the metropolitan Detroit, a section that is south of Dearborn and north of Monroe. Taylor was a finalist for the All-American City Award in 2004 and has a variety of modern municipal buildings. Taylor City’s Department of Public Works featured a visit from President Bill Clinton for its grand opening in 1996. President George W. Bush visited Taylor in 2004, and current president Barack Obama visited in the city during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Charlie and Eric, SunTel Services partnered with Avaya to put in place a distributed communications network serving 14 of the City of Taylor locations. What can you tell us about this groundbreaking deployment?

Eric:
Eric French, System Engineer at Avaya

Well, I’ll start with that, Guy. The City of Taylor had an old system that really didn’t fit their needs anymore. It was an all-digital system, very old, and as with many governments, the size of the city government had reduced dramatically over the years, and the older system they had was really more than they needed. We were able to offer them an Avaya IP Office system, which was able to provide them with all IP phones, new capabilities and functions that they wanted to do. The city was able to lower their cost and give them the ability to administer the system themselves, which allowed them to do a lot of things with the city that they were hoping to be able to do with the modern up-to-date communication system.

Guy:
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That’s fantastic. I understand that not only did Avaya install state-of-the-art telecommunications technologies, but the City of Taylor’s network takes advantage of a highly secure, highly reliable campus data network enabled by Avaya. What can you tell us about that?

Eric:
Eric French, System Engineer at Avaya

The City of Taylor has a complete Avaya solution that includes multi-site IP Office deployment with IP phones and digital phones and all the applications. The network infrastructure is also all Avaya. It’s brand new, including a wireless network throughout several of the critical buildings that use Avaya technology.

Guy:
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Great. Like so many municipalities and local governments today, the City of Taylor is facing challenging economic times. What can you tell us about how the solutions you have provided are slashing costs for the city?

Charlie:
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This is Charlie. Actually, that is a very critical point for this decision. As Eric had mentioned, the City of Taylor was facing tough economic times and some downturns with a tough economic environment here, and the IP Office presented a solution to, number one, reduce the municipality’s cost by over 50 percent. And when you look at 50 percent being a big number, over the course of two, three, four or five years, it presented immediate savings in very large dollar amount for this.

The second thing is in addition to savings, it really had an impact on efficiency as the city reduced in size and changed the way they were structured. The features and the administration of the IP Office provided efficiencies they did not have with the older technology. And then, of course, there’s the productivity enhancements on the IP Office broad context inter-functionality for the City of Taylor with centralized communications and center line communications, and then they’ve also leveraged the IP Office features, including mobility, office worker, and messaging functionality that they did not previously have.

Guy:
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Awesome. Eric, was there anything you wanted to say about that as well?

Eric:
Eric French, System Engineer at Avaya

Yeah. I think another area was the simple, easy-to-use GUI maintenance interface for the IP Office allowed the IT staff at the City of Taylor to take on a lot of the maintenance and day-to-day administration tasks on themselves, where previously, with their old system, with an old-fashioned command line interface, they actually had to depend on partners to make those kind of simple day-to-day changes. That was something that the City of Taylor thought would be an upgrade benefit for them to be able to administer much of the system themselves.

Also, with the addition of a fax server, the City of Taylor was able to eliminate a huge number of fax machines and take all their traffic and move that on to a simple fax server, saving them not only the cost of new fax machines but other costs of ink and paper, repairs on those older fax machines.

Guy:
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Awesome. That’s a great story in one I think that governments across the country could replicate. I also understand that the city had been dealing with retirements of some key employees and that the contact center capabilities of the IP Office system that you installed allowed them to cope with some of those manpower shortages. So, what can you tell us about that?

Charlie:
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The City of Taylor basically, what they did is, they centralized their communications. Most municipalities, you go on their website, you try to call them, there are numerous departments. It can get very confusing, or you end up in a dead end. So one of their goals was to leverage the new technology, simplify their communications, and through contact center with IP Office, they did that. They created a contact center, so now they publish a single number for the city. You call into that number and you get live service very quickly. They improved the service to the community. And then also from the manpower standpoint, it was difficult to get a handle on statistics and call volumes prior to this deployment. So now they have the ability to run reports of the contact center to understand what kind of call volume they have, adjust their staffing needs, as well as provide better service to the community.

Guy:
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Well, that’s fantastic. I think another challenge that we’re seeing across the country is where we see that a lot of government employees are reaching retirement age and governments are trying to figure out what to do about it. So that’s a great solution for that as well. So thank you.

So my last question is, what are you guys most proud of in the solutions that you’ve provided to the customer, or what about the relationship that you established with the City of Taylor? What can you tell us about that?

Charlie:
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I think that’s probably one of the critical items for this project between Avaya and SunTel services. We’re able to leverage a current customer, a relationship. They were experiencing these challenges that we’ve talked today, and they were able to really leverage the technology, and the relationship allowed us to present this technology, and leverage technology to save money, improve productivity, and move them forward and remain in the Avaya product line.

Guy:
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We’ve been speaking today with Charlie Mitchell, account manager at SunTel, and Eric French, System Engineer at Avaya, about the City of Taylor, Michigan. Thanks for joining me here today on Avaya Tech Talk. You can subscribe to our episodes on iTunes and follow us on Twitter hashtag #APNpodcast. Talking tech, this has been your host, Guy Clinch, the advocate for the government customer at Avaya.

Addendum:
More information about the products and service provided to the City of Taylor may be obtained by clicking here.

Dear Listeners,

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Warmest regards,
Guy W. Clinch

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