International FM Business OCS Strengthens Gamma Customer Relationship
International facilities management group OCS, with more than 72,000 employees and 20,000 customers worldwide, has strengthened its long-standing relationship with the networking and telecom services vendor Gamma.
The move – seen as underscoring OCS’ trust in its enduring partnership with Gamma – includes the supply of some 3,800 new mobile phones on the Gamma Mobile service. The vendor will also begin a gradual migration of the fixed network infrastructure at OCS from MPLS to direct internet, simultaneously managing a broadened migration of hosted telephony to Microsoft Teams.
Overseeing the work with Gamma has been head of IT procurement Alec Campbell, who first met with Gamma in late 2016 when OCS was looking to improve its networking.
Campbell says the relationship is founded on Gamma’s approach to doing business, its customer focus and its commitment to customer support, all of which he says are every bit as strong as they ever were.
Mobile Service Wrap
As an example, he cites the new agreement for mobile phones which he says is delivering good financial savings for OCS while coming with a wrap of services that other vendors could not match. Saving some £16,000 a month on the OCS mobile phone bill, it will have paid back the investment in hardware in around two years.
“When it comes to mobile data, a critical factor for us, Gamma are probably the best,” says Campbell. “Their data plan pooled approach and fair usage policy really separates them from the competition.” This means that OCS users share a common pool of mobile data. Data allowance not consumed by lighter users is therefore available to heavier users for no extra cost.
This approach has particular benefits for OCS when small satellite offices embedded on customer premises need to be set up and working in a very short time, by initially using mobile data services. It also helps at sites where 4G/5G may be the only data connection available, and when sites need rapid restoral of service when fixed connections fail.
Gamma Mobile’s seamless one-button network/WiFi calling has delivered a further cost-saving benefit. Calls by workers at home or in areas where WiFi is available will preferentially be connected over WiFi, helping to eliminate calls made over the mobile network. Previously this would have required moving from native handset calling to a separate app.
Gamma’s success is down to them being very flexible and entirely focused on what the customer needs, not what they might want to sell at the time.Alec Campbell
Head Of IT Procurement
Gamma is also helping OCS with its fixed telephony, aiding the gradual move from a hosted VoIP platform onto Teams. A gold Microsoft partner, Gamma has more than 15 years of experience enabling voice solutions for Teams and has multiple entry points from its own national network into Microsoft’s Azure platform where Teams is hosted.
“It is our strategy to move to Teams calling and we’ve been working with it for three years,” says Campbell. He agrees that with Teams already in place and people familiar with it, the company was well prepared when the Covid pandemic struck and homeworking became the norm. “Being able to see people has been key. It has helped everyone keep healthy and has kept working relationships going without needing to be in the same room.”
One thing he will miss when Gamma’s Horizon hosted telephony service is eventually retired at OCS is the extensive call management and reporting it offers via the Akixi platform. “Microsoft offers a bare-bones reporting element for Teams but in nothing like the detail we have with Gamma.” He also admits to really liking Gamma’s billing portal. It is perhaps not surprising then that OCS will be discussing both aspects of reporting further with Gamma.
Gamma’s customer team have been right on the case from the start. They’ve taken the trouble to learn exactly what our business is and how it works, and they’ve gone the extra mile to maintain the strong business relationship that exists between our two companies. That’s worth a lot today.Alec Campbell
Head Of IT Procurement
As well as trust, flexibility and adaptability have played a big part in the ongoing OCS/Gamma relationship. One example is in the area of contracts. With so many remote offices to connect it is inevitable that some have had to be relocated on a campus or moved to different areas. Some vendors can impose a hefty penalty for early disconnections or moves.
Gamma however takes a more pragmatic view. For example, if a connection needs to be moved only one year into a three-year contract, then customers can swap with no penalties.
But it is not just geographic moves that can influence changes to connectivity. Another OCS strategy is a move away from having its own data centres to instead using third-party hosted services, a shift it aims to complete within 18 months.
This is turn is mandating a shift from its core private MPLS network to secure direct Internet connections delivered by Gamma over variously DSL, FTTC, FTTP or Ethernet dependent upon the site being connected. Gamma is also providing some sites with Meraki solutions.
“We can see the WAN footprint shrinking over time as we move from dedicated network circuits to those operating over a shared public network,” says Campbell. With strong security a part of the equation, there will be no compromises to either security or resilience from making this shift.
The change will not just bring business benefits but environmental ones too. OCS has declared its commitment to a net zero carbon footprint by 2040, at the same time driving sustainability changes across the business. “Decommissioning network infrastructure is an important step in that direction,” says Campbell.
The same thinking has led to OCS piloting SD-WAN technology. This has the potential to reduce costs and a dependency on installed secure lines and network hardware. At the same time OCS is watching the roll-out of mobile network 5G services and the opportunity they offer for extra responsiveness and rapid network restoral.
With Gamma it always comes back to the people. We can buy from anybody but only Gamma can bring the ethos, the experience and the broad knowledge of our company.Alec Campbell
Head Of IT Procurement
Technology aside, Campbell believes it is still the people within Gamma that set it apart as a vendor. “With Gamma it always comes back to the people. We can buy from anybody but only Gamma can bring the ethos, the experience and the broad knowledge of our company.
“Gamma’s customer team have been right on the case from the start. They’ve taken the trouble to learn exactly what our business is and how it works, and they’ve gone the extra mile to maintain the strong business relationship that exists between our two companies. That’s worth a lot today.”
He also pays tribute to the way Gamma has always fielded the right people from the rest of its business, including the senior management team when appropriate.
“Our approach to business is to match our services exactly to what our customers need. Gamma is the same: they always make sure they’re selling us just what we need and no more.”