Audio-Technica is a world-famous Japanese audio brand formed in 1962. The company produces a range of professional audio products, including turntables, microphones and headphones for every type of audience, from the home audiophile to hard-working professionals and high-profile entertainers, from Justin Timberlake to Elton John. Its European operation includes offices in the UK, Spain, France and Germany as well as warehouses in Hungary and the Netherlands
As Audio-Technica’s existing telephony platform approached its end-of-life in 2019, the company saw an opportunity to reduce dependency on its in-house infrastructure by moving communications to the cloud. Keir Hynd, Business Systems Manager, knew it was time to decommission the company’s Lync Server 2013 infrastructure in Leeds and five Survivable Branch Appliances (SBAs) located at its European offices. He wanted to reduce strain on the IT Department and, equally importantly, explore opportunities to offer a better user experience for its distributed workforce of around 150 knowledge workers.
Audio-Technica had a longstanding relationship with Intrado, who had provided installation and support for its Lync Server 2013 infrastructure for over five years, so it made sense to turn to Intrado for advice as to their future strategy.
Keir Hynd: “We did not have the necessary voice skills in-house to manage the project and we wanted a partner whom we knew could manage the transition with minimal disruption. Intrado had provided excellent advice and support over many years and we were aware of the breadth and depth of their Microsoft knowledge and experience, so we knew we could trust them with our move to the cloud.”
Initially, Audio-Technica had considered an upgrade to Microsoft Skype for Business Server 2019, but after further discussion with Intrado, it was agreed this would not provide any significant additional user features and the decision was taken to move straight to Microsoft Teams.
Keir: “Microsoft was planning to end its support of Skype for Business and this, together with the greater collaboration abilities afforded by Microsoft Teams, gave us the impetus we needed to make the leap to Teams in 2019.”
Intrado was hired initially to plan the Teams migration strategy, up-skill the internal IT team and crucially manage a pilot project. Faced with both a geographically distributed workforce and user training and adoption requirements, the strategy needed to be broken into stages to be managed effectively. With Audio-Technica’s front-of-house and IVR call menus relying heavily on Lync Server and Exchange Server, Intrado recommended they start rolling out Teams in the Purchasing and Sales Departments during July and August 2019. The trial ran until the end of 2019, by which time the planning and ordering of migration groups to mitigate operational impact on their front-of-house IVR menus had been completed and the benefits were clear.
The pilot test gave Keir assurance for the viability of the migration methodology and proved the reliability of calling between the coexistent platforms. Keir: “The trial was very successful. Our Managing Director, who is a big believer in technology innovation, was impressed with the benefits afforded by Teams and gave us wholehearted support to move to a full roll-out.”
The process of migrating all Audio-Technica’s European locations to Teams began on 1 January 2020, and the project was completed within three months. Full decommissioning of the Lync Server 2013 infrastructure and removal of all accompanying hardware and associated overheads from the on-premises environment followed soon after.
Keir: “Intrado’s team did an outstanding job. They were more than equal to any technical challenge that we threw at them. Their documentation and explanation of their work were both clear and detailed. Our account team is extremely knowledgeable and was very responsive to any questions we had throughout the process.
“Intrado oversaw some fairly complicated software scripting work involved in programming the telephony application. Intrado also provided us with simplified scripts ensuring that our in-house IT Support team was able to carry out day-to-day tasks, which definitely made life much easier for them.”
The roll-out was completed just days before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated an overnight shift to home working for most of the workforce.
Keir: “There is no doubt in my mind that our business would have been stopped in its tracks without Microsoft Teams. Instead, we were fully equipped to handle the overnight transition to home working, while providing our employees with an extremely powerful communications and collaboration tool. It has enabled our workforce to maintain human connections during a very difficult time.”
By moving telephony to Teams, the pilot groups demonstrated many productivity benefits - less time switching between applications, a greater focus on collaborating with colleagues and partners and a richer, ever-evolving feature set helping to improve and streamline daily tasks and activities.
According to Keir, user adoption training has been a critical success factor: “If I had to offer advice to anyone making the move to Teams, it would be to focus on user training and adoption. We have worked with adoption specialists who encourage us to create a Teams Learning Channel, which has been a fantastic resource for all of us. Teams is so much more than a telephony and chat tool, but it is vital to make sure everyone is on board and understands its full potential.”
Crucially, feedback across the business has been overwhelmingly positive: “We have a monthly management meeting, where twenty-two of us get together and share feedback from across the regions. For the first six months following implementation, I received positive feedback about Teams every single month!
“Our CEO held a live event at the beginning of April when he presented our yearly plan to all employees; we would not have been able to hold an event of this size with our Lync Server.”
Keir is also delighted that the implementation has reduced pressure on the IT team:
“Remote support for Teams is far easier than supporting Lync Server 2013 remotely. And Intrado has guided us all the way. Their technical knowledge is extremely impressive and they’re also willing to give us a straight opinion. There have been no unplanned costs and we’ve not missed a single deadline throughout the project.”