Seaward creates a platform for innovation

Transforming internal communications with help from IBM and Kelros

Published on 22-Dec-2012

"Our IBM Sametime solution from Kelros has transformed the way the business communicates. By continuing our close collaboration with Kelros, we are well-placed to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and accelerate growth." - Carl Gaffney, Group IT Manager, Seaward

Customer:
Seaward

Industry:
Electronics

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, Social Business

IBM Business Partner:
Kelros Ltd

Overview

Headquartered in County Durham, England, and employing 150 people worldwide, Seaward is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of electrical test equipment for the construction, education, medical and aerospace industries. With over 70 years of combined experience, the company is represented across 30 countries, and has now extended its operations into the United States.

Business need:
Seaward wanted to support continued growth and encourage innovation by building a platform to help employees communicate more effectively.

Solution:
IBM® Premier Business Partner Kelros implemented IBM Sametime® software – offering instant messaging, voice over IP (VOIP) telephony, video conferencing and remote desktop functionalities.

Benefits:
Supported the development of three ground-breaking new products, improved efficiency of the IT department by 60 percent, and saves a significant amount each year on international phone calls.

Case Study

Headquartered in County Durham, England and employing 150 people worldwide, Seaward is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of electrical test equipment for the construction, education, medical and aerospace industries. With over 70 years of combined experience, the company is represented across 30 countries, and has now extended its operations into the United States.

With its US and UK businesses expanding rapidly, Seaward wanted to support continued growth and encourage innovation. To achieve this, the company needed to find a way to help its international and regional businesses work together more effectively.

As Carl Gaffney, Group IT Manager at Seaward explains: “Our engineering, sales and management teams work from several locations in the UK and the US. In the past, we relied heavily on email and telephone to communicate across our different business units. However, this was becoming an increasingly inefficient and costly solution as the business continued to grow.”

Need to foster innovation
Previously, regular meetings between Seaward’s sales and management teams took place as international-rate telephone conference calls. For high-level meetings, senior employees would fly between the UK and US – accumulating significant costs. The inefficiencies of the company’s existing IT systems also threatened to hinder innovation.

“Our old IT systems weren’t really designed to support project-related activities,” continues Carl Gaffney. “This meant that a lot of effort was required for our specialist product development team in Sunderland to keep track of what the engineers at our multi-project engineering team in Peterlee were working on, and vice versa. We wanted a solution that would enable these teams to share ideas easily, facilitating the development of innovative new products.”

Tackling inefficiencies
In addition to finding a better way to integrate multiple sales and engineering sites, Seaward wanted to reduce the cost and complexity of managing an expanding IT environment.

“Previously, if an employee had a problem with a company laptop or computer outside of our headquarters, we used desktop sharing software to take control of the affected machine and repair it,” says Carl Gaffney. “The desktop sharing system did not support VOIP, so both the IT manager and the affected user had to dial in to a conference line. For users overseas, this meant incurring the cost of expensive international telephone calls.”

Choosing a collaboration solution
After reviewing the latest collaboration solutions on the market, Seaward selected IBM Sametime software.

“We were very impressed by IBM Sametime, especially its combination of voice over IP (VOIP) telephony, video conferencing and remote desktop capabilities,” says Carl Gaffney. “Because we use IBM Lotus Notes® and Domino® as an application platform and email and calendaring solution, we already had an IBM Lotus Domino server in place. We realised that choosing the IBM solution would shorten our time to value dramatically.”

To streamline the implementation process for IBM Sametime, Seaward engaged IBM Premier Business Partner Kelros. Working together with the Seaward IT team, Kelros deployed IBM Sametime meeting, media, community and proxy servers on Seaward’s existing IBM Lotus Domino platform.

“Kelros was a natural choice to help us implement IBM Sametime across the business,” says Carl Gaffney. “Kelros has been a trusted partner for many years, and has developed a number of bespoke line of business applications for our Lotus Notes and Domino platform in the past. Because of that, we had a high level of confidence in the expertise and professionalism of the Kelros team.”

Facilitating business growth
By rolling out IBM Sametime software across its business functions in the UK and US, Seaward achieved its goal of creating a collaborative platform to support rapid business growth and encourage innovation.

“Video conferencing from IBM Sametime has transformed the way we communicate internally,” says Carl Gaffney. “Today, our managers in the US and UK can hold face-to-face video meetings or VOIP calls over our virtual private network [VPN] – eliminating the need for expensive flights to international meetings. Because all voice and video data is routed through the VPN, we have reduced our spending on international phone calls – saving a significant amount each year.”

The IBM Sametime solution has also helped Seaward to support its business growth in the US. “Since our IBM Sametime solution went live, our US business has doubled in size,” says Carl Gaffney. “Sametime played a significant role in the rapid expansion of our US operations. When one of our Sales Directors moved to the US to help establish the business there, the solution enabled him to keep one foot in the UK – regularly co-ordinating his strategy with senior managers via video conferencing.”

Supporting innovation
Seaward now uses IBM Sametime to help product developers at different sites stay connected – fostering innovation.

Carl Gaffney comments: “Sametime has helped us to bring our separate business units together. Instant messaging and video conferencing have opened a fresh dialogue between our multi-project engineering team members in Peterlee and our specialist engineering team in Sunderland. This has helped them to work together to solve problems, share ideas and support the development of three ground-breaking new products to date.”

Improving IT support
Using the integrated remote desktop functionality of IBM Sametime, Seaward has been able to increase the efficiency of both IT management and IT support.

Carl Gaffney comments: “We have set up a technical support meeting room in Sametime, which enables us to resolve user problems using VOIP and remote desktop control, with minimal effort required on the part of the affected user. This ability has greatly increased the efficiency of our IT support.”

Supporting mobile users
With Sametime clients installed on Apple and Android tablets and smartphones, employees can also now check in with their colleagues from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

“Sametime has revolutionised the way I perform my role,” says Carl Gaffney. “Using the Sametime mobile client, I can ask my colleagues about the status of our IT systems when I’m travelling. If an issue arises, my staff can alert me immediately, and I can work with them to resolve it. This improved communication has improved my team’s efficiency by at least 50 percent.”

Looking to the future
Following the successful implementation of IBM Sametime, Seaward is planning further investment in its collaborative platform.

“Sametime is an extremely valuable asset for our company,” says Carl Gaffney. “Because Sametime is so popular with our employees, we are currently working with Kelros to scale up and increase the range of the solution – in particular, by offering video conferencing to do product demonstrations for our partners and distributors outside of the Seaward VPN.

“We are confident that increasing our contact with key stakeholders will help our UK operations drive the same exceptional level of growth that we have seen in the US.”

Carl Gaffney concludes: “Our IBM Sametime solution from Kelros has transformed the way the business communicates. By continuing our close collaboration with Kelros, we are well-placed to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and accelerate growth.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM Sametime, IBM Notes, IBM Domino

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. December 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Domino, Lotus, Lotus Notes and Sametime are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Kelros Ltd are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Kelros Ltd makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.