Winnipeg Convention Center Case Study
Winnipeg Convention Center adds ShoreTel Mobility to seamlessly integrate with Mitel PBX for lower operational costs and improved productivity
Older facility affects Wi-Fi coverage
Communications is integral to keeping operations running smoothly. While the convention center facility is about to undergo an expansion project, the older concrete construction was not originally designed for today’s technology and Wi-Fi demands.
Mobility solution that integrates with Mitel
For convention center guests, being able to conduct business or remain reachable by cell phone while at the facility is essential. And ensuring that the staff can stay connected, regardless of where they might be at any moment, is fundamental to the success of every event being held at Winnipeg.
“Staff cannot be tethered to their desks. Things happen quickly that can significantly change the course we’re on—staff can’t wait to see a paper report or for a call to a desk phone to be returned. They need messages on the hip, so to speak, to readily take action and swiftly respond,” explains Harvey Cohen, manager of information services at Winnipeg Convention Center.
“We needed something other than two-way radios. So first we replaced the radios with a dedicated strictly Wi-Fi device. While it integrated with our Mitel PBX and offered three-digit dialing, we were having Wi-Fi performance issues, and there was no method for sending text or email,” Cohen continues.
Catering to a mobile workforce
To get in front of rising cell phone usage costs and equip convention center staff with better coverage, Winnipeg began looking into potential mobility solutions. The initial requirements for a unified mobile communications platform were interoperability with the existing Mitel PBX system, better Wi-Fi coverage and performance, and greater cost efficiencies.
To provide the greatest range of communications options, the mobility solution would need openstandard protocols. In this way, Winnipeg IT could better support any future phone system and a wide variety of devices, including bring-your-owndevice (BYOD) options for employees who already have mobile phones. And he wanted to be certain that calls routed to landline extensions and then forwarded to mobile devices would be seamless and not result in additional airtime usage costs.
The convention center uses DID numbers and landline extension dialing for staff members. DID numbers—direct inward dialing—allow a business to reuse a limited number of physical phone lines to handle calls to different published numbers. Cohen had the idea of programming employee mobile devices with the center’s DID numbers, since most cell phone companies have plans that include a service allowing unlimited talk time to the top few contacts that are not on the cell phone’s network, usually known as favorites.
Cohen learned about ShoreTel Mobility during a recent conversation with the owner at Easton Communications, a local reseller. “I saw the ShoreTel product demoed at a conference, and I realized it could be just what we were looking for,” says Cohen.
ShoreTel Mobility answers the call
Winnipeg Convention Center selected ShoreTel Mobility as the way to keep cell phone costs predictable and raise productivity and connectivity capabilities. ShoreTel Mobility integrates with IP PBX and unified communications (UC) systems, regardless of vendor, to enable easy, secure, and cost-effective interoperability of smartphones and tablets with existing enterprise applications and infrastructure.
“SHORETEL MOBILITY PROVIDES THE MISSING PIECE TO OUR PUZZLE BY PROVIDING INTEGRATION OF THE SMARTPHONES INTO THE PBX. THERE WAS NO NEED TO RIP OUT A FAIRLY RECENT MITEL IMPLEMENTATION TO GET THE BIG BENEFITS OF A RELATIVELY SMALL COMMUNICATIONS COMPONENT.”
John Henderson, Administrator
Woodlands North Houston Heart Center
“ShoreTel Mobility provides the missing piece to our puzzle by providing integration of the smartphones into the PBX. There was no need to rip out a fairly recent Mitel implementation to get the big benefits of a relatively small communications component. ShoreTel Mobility is PBX agnostic, which is a big attraction for protecting and leveraging existing investments, and remaining flexible for the future,” says Cohen.
Winnipeg switched cell phone providers to obtain better coverage in the old building and capitalize on the DID and extension dialing for reducing costs. “We negotiated a plan with our new cell phone provider that includes free unlimited calling to the favorite five non-network numbers. The ShoreTel Mobility routes all cell calls through two DIDs, which are part of those favorites. The result is no extra airtime charges,” he adds.
“Given the challenges of Wi-Fi, particularly in our environment, the ability to receive a call on either the Wi-Fi or cell network is very reassuring. I should never have to worry about missing a call. The handover feature always works, either automatically or manually,” explains Cohen.
Integrating savings and greater productivity
By bolstering its communications capabilities across the property, the Winnipeg Convention Center continues to delight its guests with outstanding services. ShoreTel Mobility provides simplicity and greater access to the tools that matter, so staff is able to respond faster and have greater choices for how to interact to accomplish the work. Email, voicemail, and texts are at the fingertips, even when employees are in motion. The open nature of ShoreTel Mobility allows for pervasive integration with the existing PBX system and myriad mobile devices, making it easier and more cost-efficient for IT to manage and support.
From an IT perspective, Winnipeg’s plans for future improvements include expanding the number and type of users on the ShoreTel Mobility system. “Deploying ShoreTel Mobility helps us better calculate and lower operating expenses associated with BYOD needs, airtime charges, poor in-building coverage, and interoperability with the PBX. In the hospitality business, big changes can occur in a moment. Being able to communicate quickly in the ways that best suit the situation allows us to better service our customers on a more timely basis. ShoreTel Mobility helps us to be successful every day,” says Cohen.
“IN THE HOSPITALITY BUSINESS, BIG CHANGES CAN OCCUR IN A MOMENT. BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE QUICKLY IN THE WAYS THAT BEST SUIT THE SITUATION ALLOWS US TO BETTER SERVICE OUR CUSTOMERS ON A MORE TIMELY BASIS. SHORETEL MOBILITY HELPS US TO BE SUCCESSFUL EVERY DAY.”
“When we bought ShoreTel Mobility, we were looking for a solution to lower operational costs and improved productivity. We were able to achieve these goals and in addition we got outstanding support from our ShoreTel partner Easton and from ShoreTel,” Cohen concludes.
Limits with Wi-Fi performance, mobile device coverage, and PBX interoperability were hampering real-time communications and monthly operating budgets.
ShoreTel provided a solution that included ShoreTel Mobility.
- Ability to leverage existing investments
- Seamless mobile access to UC tools
- Predictable cell phone usage charges
- PBX agnostic integration