3 min read

Auctioneer firm makes the call to unified communications

Auctioneer is using Avaya's Aura IP communications platform to save on long-distance dialing costs and complexities

With more than 110 locations and 40 auction sites around the world, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, needed a centralized unified communications solution to save on connectivity costs and to enable its employees to conduct business in an efficient manner, no matter where they work in the world.

Ritchie Bros. is a global industrial auctioneer which sells equipment to both on-site and online bidders. The company, which maintains headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Breda, Netherlands and Lincoln, Neb., currently has more than 1,100 employees on staff, Chris Farrer, telecommunications manager at Ritchie Bros. said.

“Because we have people selling things and doing deals at different (auction) sites all over the world, communication is very important,” Farrer explained. “During the sales day, there’s lots of voice traffic coming into the sales site, which usually has 15 people and now has thousands.”

Farrer said because the initial communications systems were purchased locally by different Ritchie Bros. sites, each location was using a different system from a different vendor. This created the challenge of not being able to standardize on a level-of-service since each site had an independent service that was being supported by a local vendor.

“We wanted to standardize on a single solution with a single vendor across all our sites to give the same standard of support,” Farrer said. “Our plan was to have less equipment at each site where we could have one messaging server and one voice server so everyone’s on one big phone system.”

The company eventually began to work with Unity Telecom, a Newmarket, Ont.-based communications company, which is also an Avaya Platinum-Certified channel partner. After discussing what the client was looking for, it was decided that Ritchie Bros. would implement Avaya’s Aura IP communications platform, in addition to other complementary solutions.

Dave Sherry, president of Unity Telecom, said the deployment work with Aura and Ritchie Bros. began last year and is still an ongoing process. Sherry said Unity Telecom is currently working at a pace of about 16 sites per year with Ritchie Bros.

“Ritchie Bros. will have a major auction at each location about once every two months,” Sherry said. “During that time, it’s a really busy place, so we do work in between that and after work hours.”

The company has implemented Avaya Aura Communication Manager 5.2, running on Avaya S8730 servers and Avaya G450 media gateways. The solution is also integrated into IBM Lotus Notes and works with Avaya one-X Communicator, Avaya 9640 IP phones and 2410 digital phones.

Tracy Fleming, Aura practice lead for Avaya in Canada, says with Aura, companies can maintain call control and can own and improve on the overall customer experience.

“With unified communications architecture and with Aura, you can own call control and improve customer service to drive better relationships between business and the customer,” Fleming said. “This is an opportunity for partners to get engaged with and do consultative selling with their customers.”

Some of the benefits Ritchie Bros. has realized since working with the Aura solution include having a company-wide, centralized seven-digit dial and management plan and better communication amongst employees, Farrer said.

“We can now dial a single number inter-office locally, regardless of where our sites are,” he said. “We can dial between offices as if we’re dialing next door or in the same building. This has helped us cut down on long-distance costs and complexities.”

With the integration of Aura with Lotus Notes and Avaya one-X Communicator, Ritchie Bros. employees can now access their calls, voicemail, audio and video conferencing, e-mail and communications history from a single interface, Sherry explained.

Farrer says that moving forward, Ritchie Bros. will look to extend one-X Communicator seven-digit dialing capabilities to employee BlackBerrys and voice-over-WiFi as well.