There’s something oddly satisfying about the news that Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants spent a million dollars on new telecommunications hardware this season to jettison the legacy phone system provided by the corporate sponsor of the team’s home ballpark in favor of a VoIP phone system powered by ShoreTel.
Despite the pricey infrastructure investment, the Giants were able to cut their annual telecom bill from nearly a half million dollars to under $150,000, which Bill Schlough, the organization’s CIO, pointed out will allow the system to pay for itself in under three years.
Among the stark differences between the two systems that point in a graphic way to the future of telecom, the ShoreTel gear necessary to control the ballpark’s 457 phone stations fits in a single rack at the back of the stadium’s telecom infrastructure hub, whereas the legacy AT&T system’s switches and cabling took up an entire wall.
Schlough is also ecstatic about the value added features of the ShoreTel system’s integrated software that for the first time allows the team to proactively identify callers to its season ticket customer support line and allows service representatives to see, even before picking up such a call, information about the customer, including whether they’ve used their tickets to recent games or whether they’ve sold them on StubHub.com. Previously, Schlough said, the reps would have no idea who a caller was until the conversation had commenced.
Replicate the experience of the San Francisco Giants across even just the professional teams in major American sports leagues – let alone the millions of small and medium-sized businesses whose bottom lines could see a real impact from similar cost savings and improvements to their customer contact experience – and it’s not too difficult to see the writing on the wall for incumbent telecom providers.
The only questions seem to be: how long it will take for legacy service providers to either give up the ghost or get their VoIP offerings in gear – and who will be the first VoIP provider to sponsor a major ballpark or entertainment facility?