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The surest way to change your company is to transform its network
Accenture’s internal IT organization began to transform the company’s voice and data systems in 2006. The process took the disparate systems and transformed them into a state-of-the-art integrated network that carries voice, data and video on a single infrastructure. In addition to recurring annual savings of up to US$25 million, the transformation facilitated the introduction of powerful, next generation collaboration tools. High-definition videoconferencing, unified communication platforms and other technologies are now part of Accenture’s increasingly virtual work environment.
As global organizations evolve, their communication networks often struggle to adapt. Companies rely on a collection of geographically limited solutions or disparate networks that support voice, data and other services separately. New capabilities such as video, are often layered atop existing infrastructure and over time the disintegrated system becomes difficult and costly to maintain.
In this sense, Accenture was just like any other global enterprise. As the organization grew, the network had evolved as a collection of geographic point solutions based on private branch exchange (PBX) for voice, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Internet circuits for data.
Accenture’s workforce was rapidly increasing in size, scope and diversity as the business evolved into an increasingly virtual client service operating model and new employees expected the same impressive functionality and media-rich bandwidth they experienced with consumer tools to be provided for them at work.
The internal Accenture IT organization believed that integrating voice and data into a single infrastructure would significantly reduce communication expenditures. The team developed a blueprint for Accenture’s network transformation, and began implementing a number of infrastructure improvements, aimed at three broad goals:
Reduce cost: Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits replaced a blend of Wide Area Network (WAN) technologies. The new system connects all offices, improves overall performance and makes more efficient and faster communication possible. Internet Protocol Telephony (IPT) capabilities replaced PBX-based systems, allowing Accenture to tap into MPLS’s quality-of-service features to build a toll bypass capability. The toll bypass feature saves up to 50 percent on international call costs and 70 percent on audio conferencing transport costs.
Reduce risk: A stable and more resilient network reduces operational risks to the business. Accenture introduced a consistent global approach to management, policy and standards, beginning with a Telecom Expense Management capability.
Building a foundation for the future: The network transformation built a foundation for advanced collaboration capabilities enabling Accenture to roll out almost 200 high definition video conferencing units globally. In addition, Accenture employees now receive access to real-time, secure instant messaging/presence, person to person and multiparty audio and video conferencing.
The network transformation program has resulted in total cost reductions of as much as US$25 million per year, including:
Communication costs per person have been reduced by 12 percent a year from fiscal year 2008 through to fiscal year 2011.
The MPLS system reduces bandwidth costs by an average of 26 percent.
IPT Toll By-Pass resulted in an average of 50 percent reduction on international calling costs.
IP-enabled MeetingPlace is saving 50 percent on audio conferencing with in-country numbers using toll-bypass.
Through Telecom Expense Management, local telecom expenses were reduced by five percent in the first year and three percent in subsequent years.
While the cost of communication has fallen, communication capabilities that take advantage of the newly converged infrastructure have proliferated, generating increased savings. For example, installed Telepresence high-definition videoconferencing systems grew from less than 20 to more than 100. Each Telepresence videoconferencing session eliminates an average of US$2,900 in travel expenses. New communications capabilities, such as Office Communicator and Lync unified messaging solutions, have also been enabled by the network transformation. These tools increase Accenture’s workforce productivity, business flexibility and employee satisfaction.
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