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Next-generation voice communication platform ensures BT people in India feel and act as part of a single integrated global team
Laksh Kalyanaraman is building a software development team in Bangalore that’s already playing a critical role in designing next-generation BT applications for both internal and external customers.
Being based in India, but working on projects with colleagues in the UK, means day-to-day communication is vital. A BT One Enterprise Cisco solution makes voice calls between the UK and India simple and immediate. In most cases they’re free of charge too. Best of all, Laksh and his people feel as one with the BT global team.
The platform offers tremendous value, but it’s not just about cost saving. If I want to talk to a BT colleague in the UK, I don’t have to make an international call. I simply key an extension number and we’re talking; and vice versa.”
- Laksh Kalyanaraman Head of Operations BT Innovate & Design India
Today, more and more businesses are looking to operate worldwide, as globalisation accelerates and home markets alone no longer meet their growth aspirations. With decades of experience of multinational operations – from small outposts with handfuls of staff to regional hubs in major cities – BT is well placed to show such organisations the way.
In March 2013, BT opened a Global Development Centre (GDC) in Bangalore. Designed to take advantage of India’s growing pool of technology talent it’s part of BT Innovate & Design, which develops new products and services on behalf of the entire BT organisation. The Bangalore GDC employs 300 specialist software developers to design next-generation BT applications for internal and external customers. That number will reach 600 during 2014.
“Communication is one of the most critical factors in an international operation’s success,” says Ashish Gupta, President for Portfolio and Service Design at BT Global Services. “The best way to ensure people in distant locations feel part of the wider team is to make day-to-day contact as easy as possible.
BT One Enterprise Cisco was chosen to provide voice telephony services for the Bangalore GDC. It’s based on a Cisco Unified Communications Manager platform, with clustered servers at regional nodes processing the voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) call traffic that flows around the company.
“On each desk in Bangalore there’s a Cisco Unified 7942 Series IP Phone, which has its own UK telephone number,” explains Mukesh Sejwal, Head of IT for BT Innovate & Design India. “It means conversations with colleagues and customers in Britain occur exactly as if we’re sitting in the same building.” The fact that the Bangalore phones have their own UK numbers means that external callers in the UK can dial direct to those desks at local rates, while the Indian team can make calls to UK public numbers without incurring international call charges.
Calls to the UK and other BT international sites are routed entirely over the BT worldwide virtual private network (VPN), which is built on a BT IP Connect global platform, avoiding public network call charges. Users simply dial an internal extension number to be connected to colleagues around the globe. The Bangalore system is also connected to India’s public telephone network to place and receive local calls. The architecture has been carefully designed to comply with the current Telecom Regulatory Authority of India regime, which prohibits calls originating on the public network being carried over VoIP.
Meanwhile, BT One Collaborate conferencing services offer the opportunity for team working across multiple sites. “Conference calls are vital,” says Laksh Kalyanaraman, Head of Operations for BT Innovate & Design India. “They’re an essential part of the way we do business, for example when we’re managing multi-site software development programmes.”
The combination of BT One Enterprise Cisco and the BT IP Connect global VPN provides worldwide access to the BT One Collaborate conferencing service, which is hosted in London. This means that intra-BT conference calls, which tend to be longer than normal telephone conversations, take place entirely within a toll-free VoIP environment. “We work closely with the Malaysian GDC, which can join us on conference calls just as easily,” says Laksh.
The BT One Enterprise Cisco platform is a fully managed service. That means, for example, that it’s configured remotely by a technical support team in the UK (although that team could sit anywhere in the world, of course). With 300 new employees set to join over the next year, the Bangalore GDC has a stock of Cisco IP Phones that can be configured centrally and simply plugged into any available network port. There’s no need for on-site support staff for that kind of routine work.
The new Bangalore GDC team is seeing an enormously positive impact on employee engagement through daily communication with the rest of the BT organisation. “To our colleagues anywhere in the world we’re a joined up part of BT,” says Mukesh. “It makes no difference we’re in India – we could be anyplace – because our team is as easy to contact as any other.”
Using BT One Enterprise Cisco, significant cost savings are being realised by carrying calls as VoIP traffic over the BT IP Connect global VPN, compared to the payments that would be made to local operators for international calls. Although precise figures have not yet been computed, the scale is thought to be around a 20:1 cost reduction. As well as saving money, call quality is guaranteed by avoiding the hit-and-miss experience of calls carried over international public networks.
There’s also a cumulative productivity effect because calls are set up more quickly and there’s no need to search for phone numbers – they’re all available at a single click from the BT online directory, while popular extensions can be stored locally on the Cisco IP Phones.
There’s more to come. In addition to BT One Collaborate audio conferences there are plans for the Bangalore GDC to adopt high-definition video conferencing in the near future, again running over the BT IP Connect global VPN. That’s possible both from dedicated video conferencing suites and from the desktop using Cisco Unified 9971 Series IP Phones. Beyond that, the BT One Enterprise Cisco platform enables a full range of unified communications tools such as presence and unified messaging.
“By using BT One Enterprise Cisco and other such next-generation products in our own setting we’re enjoying exactly the same benefits as we’re delivering to our customers,” concludes Ashish Gupta. “Furthermore, it’s like involving our own people in an in-house laboratory, to generate learning to help shape the communications products of the future – both for ourselves and our customers.”
- BT One Enterprise Cisco
- BT One Collaborate
- BT IP Connect global