College getting technology upgrade

Toronto-based Centennial College, competing inan environment where every advantage counts, is teaming up with Avaya Inc. to provide improved voice and data network solutions for its students and faculty.

All four of Centennial College’s campuses are undergoing a communications infrastructure upgrade. Its Science and Technology Centre, currently being built on the grounds of the University of Toronto’s campus, will be facilitated with a wireless institute equipped with Avaya technology.

According to Lan Nguyen, vice-president of innovation and IT partnerships for Centennial College in Toronto, the organization took an enterprise approach to its investments with Avaya.

“We have to ensure that our IT investment is effective and strategic to maintain a productive learning and teaching environment for our students and faculty while continuing to improve our service quality to sustain customer satisfaction. This would further position ourselves to be globally competitive, and Avaya has been a key partner to help us push this strategy,” she said.

One of the specific improvements to the college has been the implementation of new call centre capabilities from Avaya. The call centre has been upgraded with the Avaya MultiVantage on an Avaya S8700 Media Server and an Octel 250 Message Server.

This upgrade pushes consistency between all campuses and quickly routes callers to the appropriate person or department, reducing wait time and providing faster turnaround, Nguyen said.

Improvements are already being seen, she added, in particular the student registration process, which has undergone a dramatic improvement.

Typically, telephone registration can be a difficult process with long wait times and high levels of frustration. College administrators were aware of these problems, but were unable to collect data on the difficulties.

“In the past our students used to wait and wait on the phone during registration, but now we have a better way to know how long students have to wait and how many abandon the call. We’ve put a strategy forward to go through the process faster, and feel that if the students’ experience is a good one, they’ll come back,” Nguyen said.

Centennial and Avaya are also unifying the college’s network infrastructure with Avaya Enterprise Class IP Solutions including Avaya MultiVantage solutions, Avaya S8700 Media Server, Avaya VisAbility Management Solutions and Avaya Cajun Network Switches. This is intended to improve customer service and inter-campus communications, and make it more cost effective for the college to integrate voice onto a single packet-based network.

Paul Phillips, a client executive at Avaya in Toronto, said the implementation at Centennial College mirrors implementations at other enterprises.

“Everyone has peaks and valleys in the way that business goes, and Centennial College is no exception. Funds are tight all around in today’s economy and with colleges it’s an ongoing battle, although what’s unique with the college system is that they have to find more and more ways to generate their own revenue, and we’re working with them to do that,” he said.

Avaya is also implementing wireless LAN solutions into the college, and plans to help Centennial College develop the academic syllabus for program courses at its new centre, scheduled to open in January 2004.