Premier League Performance

As Matthew Reynolds, Head of IT for Southampton Football Club wrote his business case and vendor selection criteria for a new Unified Communications (UC) service it covered every aspect of UC as well as mobility and many other features of traditional telephony. Reynolds’ expectation was that it would be hard to satisfy every element of the criteria.

When Matthew Reynolds, Head of IT for Southampton Football Club, went to market with his requirements for a new communications platform he quickly discovered that it was a very competitive market and, having shortlisted two prospective suppliers, it became very clear that only one offering could completely fulfil every part and that was NEC’s 3C solution.

“I was amazed with the depth of features and functionality the solution could offer and it appeared to be able to meet all our required needs, something I assumed really was an unachievable wish list.”

Through the successive promotions from League 1 to the Premier League in just two years and two further successful seasons in the Premier League, there were significant drivers for a complete UC and integrated telephony solution for the club.

The solution

Southampton FC worked with NEC Premier Business Partner Southern Communications.

The club has installed a Gigabit ring around the stadium and a Gigabit link to the training ground with multiple Comms rooms. It was key to use this infrastructure.

The Club has a state of the art high-speed network at St Mary’s Stadium and Staplewood Training Campus, these are linked with Gigabit fibre. It was key to use this converged infrastructure.

“The NEC 3C solution offered the Club a highly available service, which was fantastic,” commented Reynolds, “We were able to install instances of the 3C in our Data Centres across two sites. This reside in a virtual environment and if we had an issue with any of three Data Centres, for whatever reason, the UC service would automatically and seamlessly fail across, keeping all communications fully operational. This was a critical success factor in selecting this vendor.”

Reynolds continued, “Clearly presence and collaboration for all our employees was key and whilst other vendors said they could do it, 3C’s capability worked across all our devices (Windows PC’s, Macs, iPhones and iPads) and while some vendors could cover this requirement it would have meant different applications on different devices. The joy of the NEC 3C is that the same client application runs across all devices and it is one application to use.

Southampton FC’s CEO Gareth Rogers adds, “We aim to run a well-managed and well-structured football club that is successful both on and off the pitch. To achieve this requires an incredible attention to detail and a continual desire to improve everything that we do.

“Our scouts & coaches can now collaborate on the go, with the ability to stream live video of potential players as well as recording an entire training session to analyse at a later stage.

3C’s technology helps give us a cutting edge.”

The club has also invested heavily in Wi-Fi across the ground and with the mobile 3C client this solved another issue. On match days the local cellular networks are swamped and therefore our staff cannot use mobile for communications. However, with the NEC 3C mobile app we can now use the mobiles across the Wi-Fi network!

Additionally with NEC 3C we were able to use the embedded fax server, which is fantastic. Fax, although a dying medium, is still used in international player transfers.

The onsite Mega Store also had an urgent need for a cordless solution and had been struggling with standalone DECT phones. The NEC 3C integrated DECT solution transformed the working environment within the Mega Store as well as the security building, which also had DECT handset working implemented.

In terms of cost savings, the ease of administration has easily halved the time it takes to fulfil service requests whilst the presence and collaboration applications have saved the users huge amounts of time. The really definable benefit was the ability to provide 40 x ISDN2 S0 buses that are a requirement for broadcasters to use during match days. Overall we estimate a saving of over £170,000 per annum for the club.”

Paul Bradford, CEO at Hampshire based Southern Communications, said, “For many organisations achieving a fully functional unified communications platform is difficult. Often the solutions are a compromise involving many different suppliers and requiring a huge amount of internal support and management. However, with NEC’s Univerge 3C all these applications are fully integrated and simple to deploy. The icing on the cake for Southampton FC was the incredible value for money and swift return on investment achieved at the same time.”


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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine