St Paul’s Cathedral in London is working on a new digital strategy after the successful implementation of a new UC system, according to its Head of IT, Garry Hunter.
The need for a new UC system was driven by the onset of the first national lockdown in March last year, when – like most organisations – the cathedral’s staff had to pivot to remote working and didn’t have the technology to do so.
It worked with Charterhouse to implement an 8×8 solution that would enable staff to make calls internally and externally while working from home. The solution included all the collaboration functionality that St Paul’s was looking for, including video conferencing and in-app messaging.
“We found that our existing phone system wasn’t quite fit for purpose and we needed something that had more of a hybrid approach to working,” Hunter told UC Today.
“I needed a solution that would be flexible, but would also not be cost-prohibitive either. I spoke with many organisations and Charterhouse came to meet us with the 8×8 solution. It was an all-in-one app that made it so much simpler for our users to navigate. It’s great to have the bells and whistles but if they’re really difficult to use, our staff just don’t use them.”
Charterhouse managed the porting of all numbers to ensure communications could be quickly moved to the cloud and provided training to St Paul’s staff. Though the monthly cost of the solution is higher, the overall cost is less than the upgrade, which was important to Hunter as he had to keep in mind the charity’s budget.
The implementation of the solution took about six weeks, Hunter said, adding that it was always in the “back of his mind” to adopt such technology and was a part of its five-year IT strategy, but that the pandemic accelerated the adoption. It’s also enabled access to the venue for education sessions during lockdowns, as students all over the country can ‘visit’ the cathedral virtually.
“I’m now working on a new five-year IT budget, and in that budget, UC is very close to the top of what we are looking to implement over the next four and a half years,” he stated.
“My staff and I are doing a lot more research – with Charterhouse as well – into new technologies and solutions that improve on what we have now, so it doesn’t end with the 8×8 solution. This is just the beginning for us.”
Charterhouse’s Chief Revenue Officer, Richard Betts (pictured right), added that St Paul’s is a “classic” example of the digital acceleration the pandemic has forced organisations to undergo.
“Lots of businesses were looking to move towards a UCaaS, cloud-based system, that’s been the general direction of travel for most organisations, and with the pandemic that got accelerated,” he explained.
“We’re talking to a lot of businesses about these types of plans that have all been accelerated so we’ve been incredibly busy, supplying all sorts of cloud-based products, particularly UCaaS. It’s been a very busy period for us helping people throughout the past year.”