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Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Dan Berlin, director of architecture at Kennametal, a materials manufacturing company.
Nearly every IT department seeks to conserve costs. The very best ones conserve costs while expanding capabilities for their users. At Kennametal, a leading material science and manufacturing company, we’re switching from traditional telephony to Skype for Business to accomplish both sides of the equation.
We have more than 11,000 employees scattered around the world, which presents challenges to working as a cohesive business. Yet global business integration is key for us. We develop innovative, wear-resistant products and services that touch nearly every manufacturing process. So we need our engineers, materials scientists, manufacturing technicians and other workers to be able to communicate not only with each other, but also among our strategic partners, vendors and customers. In the past, many of our employees hesitated to pick up the phone and call someone, reluctant to incur additional costs. We had adopted Skype for Business and its predecessors for instant messaging, presence and audio conferencing capabilities, so most employees relied on those services to communicate.
Recently, we’ve extended our use of Skype for Business, adding advanced capabilities such as PSTN Conferencing. This was a change in direction. We were moving toward AT&T PSTN services, because we’d been using traditional AT&T conferencing services. But we put that pilot project on hold when Skype for Business launched PSTN Conferencing. By adopting it, we consolidated vendors and simplified our licensing management, which is always a plus from an administrative standpoint. We’ve also found it faster for IT to manage conferencing. Previously, we had to order an AT&T card for new users, which delayed service for them. With Skype for Business, we just click one button in the Microsoft Office 365 portal and our user is up and running. From an IT point of view, there’s a simplicity that comes with Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing. We handle things ourselves without having to worry about compatibility issues with the rest of our systems because it’s fully interoperable with the other Microsoft products that we use.
As a result of turning off our old conferencing system and switching to Skype for Business, we’re saving more than U.S. $750,000 annually, and that doesn’t include the elimination of long-distance charges stemming from traditional international calls. We expect to see even more savings when we put in place Skype for Business Cloud PBX.
Today, approximately 1,100 employees use Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing capabilities. We’ll expand that base per employee request as their user profiles change and Kennametal grows. We made sure that the transition to Skype for Business would be a smooth one by conducting plenty of proactive employee outreach to alleviate potential concerns. We scheduled 20 separate training sessions that any employee could join, and 80 percent of PSTN Conferencing users attended one of those sessions, leaving with links to training materials in their native languages, which is particularly helpful. Using the familiar the Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing interface also eases adoption, with symbols and methods that employees already use in other Skype for Business functionality and in other Microsoft products. And since giving employees Skype for Business–certified headsets for a better experience, we’ve seen more active use of PSTN Conferencing features.
Our main business driver for moving to Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing was to reduce telephony costs, and we’ve certainly met that goal. But we’re also gaining productivity benefits as our voice interactions increase. By touching base verbally, employees get things done faster and more easily, and they now have a way to reach colleagues, partners, vendors and customers worldwide without worrying about long-distance costs. At Kennametal, every business group is a global group, and we’re supporting those groups even better today with help from advanced features in Skype for Business.