Life insurance company learns to communicate, with Cisco

For Executive Planning International Life Insurance (EPILI), the ability to efficiently and effectively communicate with each other and with clients is critical.

The family-run business based in Aurora, Ont. has been providing living benefits, life insurance, group benefits and more to its customers for the past 40 years. With a team of only seven people, Matthew Fincham, a consultant at EPILI, said at any given time there are employees working at the office, at home, on the road, or at clients’ offices.

After a conversation with Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), it was decided that EPILI would replace its Nortel-based phone system with Cisco’s Smart Business Communications System solution.

With help from Cisco Premier partner ClearCable Networks, a Stoney Creek. Ont.-based communications consulting firm specializing in advanced IP and voice network services, EPILI was able to save time and money on communications.

“We had a Nortel system and separate Internet, security and services, which I actually did a lot of the managing for,” Fincham said. “That taxed a lot of my time but now that we have (Unified Communications 560 Series for Small Business) we’re more efficient and responsive with our phone lines.”

The solution, implemented early last year, took less than a day to get up and running, Fincham said. With Cisco technology, the company can now use Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) phone lines, which has helped minimize long distance phone charges. Once the new solution was in place, Fincham said very little training was needed for him and the rest of the EPILI staff.

“The biggest problem with this type of technology is you really don’t know what you’re missing out on until someone points it out to you,” Fincham said. “Once you start using it, you realize more potential for those features that you didn’t know existed before.”

Cisco’s UC 560 Series lets EPILI employees receive calls wherever they are. With single-number reach capability, calls ring an employee’s desk and cell phone at the same time so no calls are missed.

The solution also includes virtual private networking (VPN) technology and a built-in firewall so employees can securely and remotely log-in to EPILI’s network to check their e-mail or receive a phone call on their PC.

Todd Madgett, director of SMB distribution and partner enablement at Cisco, said SMBs in particular have a need for accessibility and communications

“The need to be reachable is even greater, so this solution gives users the flexibility to be anywhere, anytime and they can still answer their phones in the office,” Madgett said. “This enables them to quickly respond to customer needs anywhere and anytime. Customers also have the benefit of knowing they can afford and deploy the same Cisco-based solutions that even some of the larger enterprises have.”

In addition to the Cisco UC 560 solution, EPILI is also using Cisco’s Small Business Video Surveillance Cameras inside the office. Since these cameras are connected to the UC560 wireless network, when movement is detected an e-mail is sent out for security purposes.

“When we’re away from the office, we can log-in to our VPN and view in real-time, video footage from the camera,” Fincham said.

ClearCable president Rob McCann said the Cisco UC 560 solution is ideal for SMBs and professional services-oriented organizations.

“This solution would work well in doctors, lawyers, investment firms and real estate offices,” McCann said. “The UC 560 is a voice, data, video and wireless networking solution and it’s also a firewall and VPN, so it’s really the Swiss army knife of Cisco technology and can do a lot of things for small businesses.”

Fincham said the company, which has already purchased an office next door to its current office, plans to expand within the next year.

“We’ll probably add another employee or two in the new year,” Fincham said. “Cisco technology allows us to scale as we grow and all we’d need to do is really, add more phones.”

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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