SOCAN hits right note with Cisco UC solutions

The tagline under the logo of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) is Music. People. Connected.

However, Trevor Jackson, director of IT for the non-profit organization that helps Canadian music industry artists and publishers collect royalties on for their work, said up until SOCAN upgraded its unified communications system more than year ago “connected” wasn’t the right word describe their workplace situation.

“It’s sort of ironic our tagline was is Music. People. Connected. and yet our people were having difficulties making long distance calls and sending and receiving emails,” said Jackson. “We had offices in Dartmouth, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, but they were saddled with aging and disparate telephone systems.”

With dropped calls, poor phone line and Internet connections communication delays were becoming a constant irritant and a productivity damper, he said.


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Quick and efficient communication is essential to our operations because we are a member-driven society that has no less than 115,000 members and more than 125,000 licensees across the country that contact SOCAN for account updates and license queries.

“The business was actually ahead of IT in terms of what they wanted and IT wasn’t able to deliver,” said Jackson. “We knew we had to move ahead with strategies like desktop video, bring-your-own-device and teleworking but we didn’t have the right infrastructure in place.”

As a non-profit organization, a percentage of every dollar SOCAN collects from licensing fees goes towards management expenses. The less SOCAN spends the more money that can be directed towards members.

Jackson’s vision for SOCAN was to replace its multiple phone system with a more cost-effective unified communication system that would support newer customer relationship management features. He also wanted to deploy new servers and end-user applications for the employees.

SOCAN’s IT team considered other vendors for the project, but only Cisco offered unified communication tools, BYOD capabilities and virtual desktop infrastructure that met the organization’s needs, according to Jackson.

Using SOCAN’s existing Cisco and switching and routing infrastructure, the organization deployed Cisco Unified Communications using Jabber for access to presence, instant messaging, voice, video, voice messaging desktop sharing and conferencing.

The separate phone systems were replaced with an integrated platform that allowed employees to switch from phone calls to video sessions to IM with the click of a mouse with the support of an internal Cisco WebEx node. Long distance numbers and extensions were replaced with single-number reach features that made it easier to contact mobile worker.

In the data centre, SOCAN deployed Cisco Unified Computing System to create a virtualized, plug-and-play server environment that made application deployment faster.

Cisco Unified Contact Centre Express provided call routing, embedded reporting and multi-channel capabilities including voice, Web chat, email, and social to SOCAN’s communication abilities with its members and licensees.

The result was faster and smoother communication with employees and members across various devices, according to Jeff King, chief operating officer of SOCAN.

“Now we’re interacting with our peers across Canada just by dialing an extension or starting and IM chat,” he said. “It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It provides us with a whole new level of flexibility.”

Jackson said SOCAN employees working from home find it easier now to contact a subject matter expert in another area of the business  they can now view a person’s profile, find out his availability and contact him from their desktop.

“Our previous communication strategy did not allow us to this effectively,” he said.

Jackson declined to say how much SOCAN spent on its UC project but he said the organization was able to obtain return on its investment within 18 months of deployment.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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