Since beginning as a high school, Gardner Webb University has advanced into a flourishing regional institution with a total of eight degree programs. Associate VP of Operations Wayne Johnson has advanced communications on campus by rolling out Skype for Business (and now Teams). Gardner Webb University has a long-term relationship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. It was Gardner Webb University’s new relationship with Enabling Technologies that led to the success of Skype and Teams
YEARS IN EXISTENCE
Gardner Webb University engaged Enabling Technologies when issues arose with the performance of Skype for Business and Exchange voicemail. Said Associate VP Wayne Johnson,
“Troubleshooting and crisis management occupied 80% of our support team’s time. Our former partner and many others claimed to know Skype for Business. What led us to Enabling Technologies is that Skype is a core capability, and they offer better options for support."
Enabling Technologies diagnosed the root cause of the critical issues and then began remediating a longer issue list. Gardner Webb University realized the value of Enabling Technologies’s deep bench of expertise. “One of our criteria for selecting a new partner is that we didn’t want a partner who had a single expert,” said Johnson. “We’d had that experience for a couple of years. When they were out of pocket or left the company, things got really uncomfortable for us really fast.” Now, Skype is the primary system for dial tone, conferencing, and app sharing. “There’s rarely an issue now,” said Johnson. “My staff can work on projects, instead of working overtime troubleshooting. We’ve disconnected Avaya as the head-end, and Skype and the AudioCodes gateway handle inbound calls and trunking. It’s working beautifully, and I haven’t paid Avaya for support for years.”
The Economic Advantages
Gardner Webb University is still making prudent use of the legacy Avaya analog infrastructure, however. The Avaya connects to emergency phones in hallways of residence halls, campus blue light phones, and students can even request to have a copper line into their room. “The Avaya connects to Skype through our AudioCodes gateway with SIP,” said Johnson. Not ripping and replacing the analog infrastructure has proven to be an economical strategy.
“I have seen a huge amount of productivity improvements,” he said. “It used to be that we all met in person, and while we’re not a large campus, it’d take 5-10 minutes to walk to meet. Skype has been really good for informal, quick collaboration, without the need to grab the coffee mug, walk to a meeting place, and sit down together.”
Summary and The Future
“Enabling Technologies’s helped our platforms become stable, and properly designed, said Johnson. “I can’t say enough about Enabling Technologies when I am sitting at home on a Saturday and get an email from Enabling Technologies saying they’re doing a health check, responding to alerts, or addressing certificates that are expiring. The major benefit GWU has had from working with Enabling Technologies is stability.”
“Enabling Technologies helped us go from being reactive to proactive, with just a little investment.” Wayne Johnson, VP
Johnson sees opportunities in transitioning to Teams. “Using SharePoint and Teams have been natural progressions from Skype,” he said. GWU is already using Teams for creative operational improvements. “We have a team of personnel involved with cancellations from hurricanes and other weather-related events,” explained Johnson. This occasional, multi-functional team can IM and conference in its own channel. “The beautiful thing is the file collection, where we keep checklists of things to do and communications to send in a weather situation. I can’t speak highly enough of files always being easy to find. Our language is consistent whether we’re communicating via social, email, or through our emergency response system.” Team members are using Teams Mobile to receive remote notifications. “We can be working from home but still find and share things we need to respond to" said Johnson. “No one texts much anymore, they’re just going to Teams for updates.”