QIC Global comprises the international (re)insurance operations of Qatar Insurance Company, including the Qatar Re (with wholly-owned subsidiaries) and Antares brands. Backed by the market leader in Qatar and dominant insurer in the GCC and MENA region, QIC Global comprises a group of regulated risk carriers and service companies unified by expertise, excellence, trust, and efficiency. They have eight global office locations: London, Cheltenham, Malta, Gibraltar, Zurich, Bermuda, Singapore, and Doha.
Following the merger in 2018, QIC Global was still ultimately two separate companies, each with their own infrastructure and phone systems. One half of the company was on a Mitel system using Microsoft Skype for Business and Mitel phones, and the other half was using Jabber with Cisco phones. With neither of the phone systems able to connect to each other, there was little collaboration across the organization.
Vito Nigliazzo, Project Manager at QIC Global: “There was no collaboration. Some people had their physical telephones on their desk, others had softphones. It was like we’d thrown two or three companies together and were not really behaving like one organization.
There was a great example where one Executive was in his office, with his secretary just outside, and she was unable to transfer calls to him. She would have to dial his number. That was the problem we had. If you were in a different part of the company, you could not transfer calls. There was no directory look ups. It was a bit of a mess.”
At the time of the merger, Microsoft Skype for Business was in use. With one company familiar and at ease with the tool, while the other had just started to use Skype for Business. Add to this a reluctance from some offices to move away from systems they’d come accustomed to, there was a sense of confusion and frustration across the organization.
Vito: “We had too many disparate bits of software. Telephony, video conferencing. We had Cisco, Skype, Jabber and Mitel systems. We just needed one system.”
Before Simon Granger, Head of Infrastructure and Security Services, started at QIC Global, his predecessor had started a review of their UC environment, looking at either a Cisco or Mitel system.
QIC Global leadership were reluctant to migrate to the cloud, doubting it would be cost-efficient for them. Skype for Business was coming end of life, and they were already long out of contract and support on the old Cisco technology. Plus, Mitel’s contract renewal was coming up.
Having successfully deployed Microsoft Teams with Intrado at his previous company, Simon was aware of the capabilities and benefits of Microsoft. With QIC Global already having provisioned Microsoft Office 365 E5 licenses, which includes the Teams phone system, Simon put Microsoft into the mix.
When comparing costs, an upgrade of existing technology was deemed considerably more expensive, and it was clear that migrating to Microsoft Teams phone system would be most cost beneficial for the company.
Vito: “The whole point of the project was to consolidate the entire collaboration system: to have the telephone, chat and meetings solutions on the same system, so Teams really fit the bill. We could do everything with one technology.”
Intrado proposed Microsoft Teams with Direct Routing, using Ribbon Virtual Session Border Controllers (SBCs) deployed in country. The solution would provide a full enterprise calling experience using Office 365 phone system direct routing, available through their E5 licenses, as a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Calling Plan.
The deployment of SBCs is all that is required to enable Teams integration with an on-premises PSTN connection, delivering a seamless PSTN telephone service with domestic and international calling capabilities. Deploying the SBCs in country offer deployment flexibility, high levels of security and service quality. Intrado delivered a solution that is scalable to include more SBCs, SIP Trunking and users as QIC Global grows.
Simon: “Although I am fortunate to know Teams, we could not have implemented the solution ourselves. We definitely needed the technical support from Intrado to design and deliver the telephony aspects.”
With around 350 users to migrate across eight offices, and several telcos to work with globally, the solution was deployed on a site-by-site basis. First, the Teams low-level design was implemented and SBC’s were deployed. Next, pilot users were enabled and following full User Acceptance Testing, the remainder of the site was deployed to Teams.
Describing their experience working with Intrado, Vito confirmed: “It was not like dealing with your typical consultancy, where you get charged for a 5-minute call or told it’s not in the scope of work. To me it felt like Intrado was an extension of our team and they did a great job of helping us deliver.”
QIC Global now have a very different environment that delivers a unified and collaborative experience across their organization. With Microsoft Teams phone system, they now have a modern telephony system, capable of inbound and outbound calling with voicemail from any device or location.
It wasn’t long after each deployment before they were receiving positive feedback from across the organization. Simon describes some of the benefits:
“There is a lot more collaboration across the group. Even my CEO has said people are starting to collaborate better. We’ve had town halls where 250 people can join. The whole company can join from wherever they are. People can be in contact more, and I’ve been told it’s easier for them to work.”
Vito also went on to add: “The ease of use also. We haven’t had people tell us they don’t know how to use the system, that they’re struggling. For example, our Bermuda receptionist - previously if she went to lunch the calls were unmanned, as there was nobody to answer the calls because of it going direct to her telephone. We’ve revolutionized her life! She can now go to lunch and the call automatically is forwarded to a colleague. Basic things like that, you wouldn’t think would happen in an organization.”
Simon: “It’s made it easier for people to carry on talking. I think that’s how our company has gone through Covid from a technical point of view. It’s helped people communicate with each other. As we start to return to the office, we’ve put in the Logitech Tap for Teams room solution in a few of our meeting rooms around the world. As people aren’t going to be returning to the office all together, they can still feel included.
“As for telephony, it just seems to have become the norm for everyone.”
Company: QIC Global
Situation: With two separate on-premises phone systems unable to connect, and multiple disparate conferencing tools, collaboration across the organization was poor. The outdated telephony technology didn’t support flexible working, and IT were managing multiple service providers and telcos globally. QIC were looking for a simplified hosted communications platform that provided voice, video, and chat collaboration for the whole organization.