The Southern Co-operative (TSC), which runs 155 Co-op stores in the south of England area, has recently introduced a new internet protocol (IP) telephony system, linking all its stores and its central headquarters.
The new IP telephony service has been implemented as part of a fixed contract agreement to establish a unified communications (UC) solution across all TSC sites.
TSC’s head of ICT, Paul Sargeant, explained that the group now had:
“a core network with IP telephony, mobility and fixed mobile convergence now running over it.”
Sargeant insisted that the overriding reason for the adoption of innovative capabilities such as IP telephony was that they made good commercial sense:
“…we’re not pursuing it for the sake of it. We make our choices on what the business requires.”
Sargeant was also keen to point out that whilst this combination ‘could be considered UC’, TSC would always be willing to adapt in order to ensure their packages remained relevant both to ‘where the market is going’ and to ‘what’s right for us’.
TSC’s desire for flexibility in the adoption of new technologies such as IP telephony; and, its decision to opt for a fixed price contract with a supplier rather than investing in such technology independently; are both very much in line with what many observers claim is a growing trend towards using hosted services; particularly among small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
As well as saving on the costs of expensive in-house capital investment, securing IP telephony and business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) via, say, a business VoIP supplier or VoIP reseller, has also been shown to help firms keep up to date with any new technological innovations that might come along.
In this way, as TSC has found, the concept of UC can start to become an on-going reality rather than a mere IT buzzword.