Sports brand ASICS (Anima Sana in Corpore Sano, a healthy spirit in a healthy body) was set up by Kihachiro Onitsuka in Japan, 1949. Over recent decades the company has grown to become a leading brand of sportswear, shoes and lifestyle products. ASICS Europe has branches in many countries, with a staff over 500 employees. The European headquarters is in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. In 2010 the company relocated to a brand-new headquarters a stone’s throw from the old one. For communication between the European branches ASICS Europe uses a Unified Communications system from Swyx.
ASICS Europe’s existing PBX telephony system had become outdated. Spare parts were hard to come by, as well as being pricey. System Administrator Rob Buurman: "The system was also not very scalable. We regularly had to buy expansion cards because the organisation’s growth meant we were constantly setting up more workplaces within the headquarters. It always took a while before these cards arrived, which didn’t do anything for our flexibility." ASICS Europe went in search of a new telephony/communications environment and investigated a variety of solutions. “The most important requirements for our chosen environment were flexibility and scalability. The solution also had to be Windows-based, and the presence of local support in various European countries was a must.” Buurman also noted that a low running cost was vital. "We manage the communications environment with three people, so we don’t have the time to go putting out fires on-site all over Europe."
Ultimately ASICS Europe selected Swyx. "First because this environment is Windows-based and so is easy to manage," notes Buurman. "So managing the Swyx server on which the Voice-over-IP environment runs is extremely simple. We no longer need to patch any portals. In relocating to our new offices we could also simply plug the server into the new premises and get straight down to work." Swyx also offers optimum scalability. New employees can be added quickly and easily: a licence ordered in the morning is on hand in the afternoon. Another Swyx advantage is its Europe-wide support. Buurman: "Swyx has many dealers in Europe with knowledge of the system, who can offer local support. Thus for the ASICS office in Germany for example, there’s a partner just around the corner. This puts us at ease."
Stimulus for customer service
ASICS Europe staff benefit every day from the flexibility of the Swyx environment and the IP telephones. They can log-in from any ASICS office in Europe with a pin code, and are then accessible via their own telephone number. An additional advantage is that they call via the IP network, so that the communication costs are lower. The link with Microsoft Dynamics Navision, also offers major benefits. Buurman: "When a client calls, the relevant ASICS employee immediately gets the client card on his or her screen. So at a glance they have an insight into the client and order information, which can provide a major stimulus for customer service. With the Swyx it is also possible to route an incoming call directly to the right contact person. Imagine for example that a client like Intersport calls, then they will be connected directly to their regular contact. It’s no longer necessary to pass people on for connection."
IBM Lotus Notes integration
Swyx offers extensive integration abilities with IBM Lotus Notes, where presence functionality is also available within ASICS Europe. "If staff are in a meeting, that’s in their Lotus Notes scheduler. A red dot shows next to their name so that colleagues can see they are not available. This also applies to the telephonists in the European ASICS offices. They have a Swyx console which will show precisely who is accessible. Calls can be connected with drag & drop. It simply couldn’t be easier."
There is still plenty of communication by phone within ASICS Europe. So the continuity of the Swyx environment is essential. The telephone traffic runs via the Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN), where telephony takes precedence over data traffic. ASICS Europe also deploys two Swyx servers, so that if there is a fault in one, the work is taken over by the other. Buurman: "The server in Hoofddorp operates as the primary server, while the failover server is located in Enschede. Switching takes no time at all. We have tested it, and not a single employee noticed."
Buurman also has complete confidence in Swyx for the future. "The add-ons and features of this system are in ongoing development. The system develops in tandem with new technological possibilities, as it were. We are convinced that in terms of flexibility, scalability, management ease and continuity, we have made the right choice."