Lyoness International AG

The Austrian company Lyoness is an international, cross-industry purchasing group and loyalty programme for the trade sector. Founded in 2003, the company is expanding rapidly and now operates across the globe, with 550 employees supporting about 2 million members. A new telephone system was supposed to easily keep pace with company growth as well as the widely spread branch network – requirements that make the innovaphone PBX the ideal choice due to its almost unlimited scalability and sophisticated site concept.

The more dynamic the development at Lyoness International became, the more urgent was the call for a new telephone system, which should provide the abundant possibilities offered by VoIP as well as make sure that all new company sites would be integrated in a standardised telephone system. The first concern, however, was to avoid “being tied down by excessively long-term contracts,” General Manager at Lyoness Dataservice GmbH and Head of IT Siegfried Unz says. However, open source solutions were not an option and neither was new dependence on one of the major telecommunications providers.

Screening of potential vendors led the company to innovaphone – the innovaphone PBX “proved to be an interesting option in terms of price, but mainly in terms of service. We prefer to have the status of a welcome customer or partner than to cooperate with a world market leader. Many of our experiences in recent years underlined this decision,” Siegfried Unz added. Other key criteria for the selection of the future telephone system included:

  1. Use of existing network cabling
  2. Integration of SIP trunks – also across branch offices
  3. The systems’ high level of manageability
  4. Comprehensive configuration options
  5. And, last but not least, the possibility to manage the systems in-house.

In the meantime, Lyoness International has trained and certified several technicians in innovaphone’s training centres, securing extensive in-house know-how.

Global installation, comprehensive in-house expertise

Like many companies on a strong growth course, just a few years after being founded Lyoness was facing a real proliferation of completely different telephone systems from various vendors. In addition to that, support terms and functionalities varied greatly from site to site.

Today, innovaphone systems are already being used at more than 30 sites across all continents. Smaller branches run the PBX on the innovaphone IP800, while larger branches use IP6000 VoIP gateways. In-house technicians have taken over the maintenance of all systems, guaranteeing rapid reaction times and uniform standards. The number of subscribers per site varies greatly, ranging between 5 and 120 connections.

Installation of the new system was implemented step-by-step. The first site to be migrated had 50 employees. After the migration ran smoothly, the roll-out at the first foreign branches was started. Experience showed that particularly new sites were established relatively easily and quickly, as here it was possible to define provisions beforehand. But the innovaphone PBX was also easily integrated with the existing system at Lyoness’s headquarter in Graz – in short: a soft migration. All installations around the world are managed and maintained remotely from the company headquarters in Austria. Siegfried Unz explains: “Local IT companies are connecting the devices which we have preconfigured, and we manage them remotely. At the moment, we are installing at least one system a month somewhere around the globe. The technical discussions with telephone providers in the individual countries are most difficult and also most nerve-racking. ISDN and SIP standards vary greatly. Sending the components via mail and customs issues also often present burdens that need to be taken into account. Based on the global installations, we have now built up comprehensive in-house expertise. innovaphone as our vendor gave us excellent support in the build-up of know-how and with the addition of global SIP lines.”

Additional applications, goals and conclusion

Lyoness is using the innovaphone PBX Operator, a computer-based switchboard for the innovaphone PBX. The operator can access the innovaphone PBX’s wait loop and forward calls anywhere – also across several sites. Some CTI applications are used via Outlook as well as a connection to videoconferencing systems; there are plans to implement and provide staff with more comprehensive features. The integration with LYNC is currently being evaluated.

In the future, different innovaphone PBXs might become networked across countries.

Siegfried Unz draws a differentiated conclusion: “The decision to put telephony in our company on a new foundation brought us to some hurdles. Today, I’m happy to have chosen innovaphone and to have established an in-house team for the solution. At the moment, we have only established the basis, and many measures are yet to be implemented. This type of solution always depends on the employees enabling its success. This is where I’d like to refer to my colleagues, naming in particular Markus Neuhold, Marc Gölles, Markus Katter and Helga Unz. Not to forget our innovaphone partner, Nipcon Communication, and many other employees across our group, who have supported the implementation.“

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