Global Crossing is using presence-enabled collaboration tools in ways that many companies haven't yet dreamed of.

J. Nicholas Hoover, Senior Editor, InformationWeek Government

September 8, 2006

4 Min Read

Employees use a Web-based console on their desktops to track each step of an order, including who's in charge at each one of those steps, and they can view and enter comments about production snags and customer feedback.

The changes have been revolutionary for Global Crossing, something akin to creating a computerized, Henry Ford-esque assembly line for products and services. "We lost a lot of people, so you have to reduce the human latency to be successful," Adel says. "Dan's group has made things a lot more efficient." U.S. orders often took 45 days to complete, but greater insight and improved communications have cut that time in half.

Global Crossing's customers view much of the same data as the company's employees about their accounts, via the uCommand self-service Web portal. Customers glean information on order management, service availability feeds, historical usage, and price quotes. "I challenge any of those big ugly telcos to provide the feeds and information that we provide to our customers today," Wagner says.

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Global Crossing wants to be the recognized leader in next-generation communications. But internally, the company's use of voice over IP, unified communications, and novel uses of collaboration tools aren't about promoting the latest in telecom. It's about cutting costs, enhancing communications, shortening order cycles, and improving customer satisfaction.

A new VoIP system cut internal communications costs by about 20% in its first year and brought five-digit dialing to all desktop extensions, doing away with long-distance domestic and international calls among employees.

The kicker for Global Crossing's IT success, Wagner says, has been the company's implementation, beginning last year, of a presence-enabled unified communications desktop built around Microsoft's Office Communicator. Employees can, without dropping the line, switch between voice calls, instant messages, Web conferences, and in some cases--like that of Global Crossing CEO John Legere, who has a Web cam attached to the top of his desktop monitor--videoconferences. With the click of a mouse, they also can call anyone in the company's e-mail list from within Microsoft Outlook and see if the colleague they're trying to contact is available to take a call. Wagner again cites customer satisfaction and faster order processing and response to customer inquiries as benefits from the technology.

Global Crossing Ltd.

Business: Telecommunications

HQ: Florham Park, NJ

InformationWeek 500 (2006) ranking: 4

Revenue in millions: $1,900

IT Leader: Daniel Wagner, Exec.VP Business Infrastructure & CIO

Vertical Industry: Telecommunications

Even Intelligent Front Office and the company's online organization charts have such capabilities. For example, next to each step of an order in the workflow application is the name of the associated manager, and an icon shows if the manager is in the office and taking calls. Clicking that icon lets users initiate a call, instant message, videoconference, or Web conference.

The next step in collaboration will be to offer click-to-call and presence capabilities in customers' uCommand portal, giving them faster access to people who can answer questions about their orders. Plans also include enabling presence on employees' mobile devices.

Global Crossing's business isn't out of the woods. For the second quarter ended June 30, its revenue fell 7.6% from the same period last year to $461 million. The company posted a net loss of $77 million, compared with a loss of $76 million in last year's second quarter. However, income was positive before factoring in interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization--a key stat investors look at--and the company is working to return to profitability by the end of this year. In a sign that Global Crossing is trying to shift into growth mode, it made a $96 million bid last month for telecom service provider Fibernet Group.

Wagner knows what lies ahead: "How do you transition your IT shop into a growth engine and not spend the kinds of dollars you used to spend that got you into the cost issues before?" Yet he asks that question with the assurance of someone who's well on his way to finding the answer.

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About the Author(s)

J. Nicholas Hoover

Senior Editor, InformationWeek Government

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