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Talking Points: Voice Platform Replacement

Northwestern University has selected the Cisco Unified Communications system as the new voice platform to service our community. This technology seamlessly integrates voice services with other University collaboration systems, including email, instant messaging, presence, and conference calls. 

Key Benefits

Affected Users

All University faculty, staff and students who use University voice systems.

Historical Update and Roadmap

Fiscal Year 2015: Northwestern Information Technology (IT) completed the request for proposal process that identified two (2) qualified vendors, Cisco and Microsoft, to perform a pilot evaluation. The pilot(s) provided the Northwestern IT project team an opportunity to evaluate each vendor and their respective voice system. This evaluation was necessary to determine which solution would best replace the University’s current voice system, which is nearing end of manufacturer support. 

Fiscal Year 2016: Northwestern IT piloted the two voice solutions. After a comprehensive analysis of feedback gathered from the Northwestern IT project team and pilot participants, the Cisco solution was determined to have the best fit with the University’s needs. The recommendation was based on several key factors and considerations, including system reliability, vendor-provided support, and pilot participant feedback.

Fiscal Year 2017: Northwestern IT will begin the process of migrating from the current voice system to the new Cisco platform. The full migration is anticipated to be completed in August 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the University changing Voice Platforms?

The University’s current voice platform is nearing the end of manufacturer support which necessitates the replacement of the system. This also presents an opportunity for Northwestern to integrate the voice system with other collaborative systems such as email, instant messaging, conference calls, and presence.

What changes will I see?

While you will still be able to make and receive phone calls like you always have, the new voice system will offer a more integrated approach in how you use your phone. With the availability of desk and PC based phones, you will now have the opportunity to:

When will I get my new phone?

The Northwestern IT project team has begun planning meetings with University schools and departments. Once the timeline is finalized by Northwestern IT, the migration for both the Evanston and Chicago campuses is anticipated to occur over a 24 month period. Voice Platform Migration Timeline.

I heard that users may not need a desk phone. Why is that?

The new system offers a software based phone that allows you to make phone calls with your computer using a headset from a list of styles offered or with a mobile device such as a smartphone/tablet. If you choose to make software based calls, you may not need to have a desk phone.

Will there be a cost associated with choosing a desk phone over a PC based Phone?

No. You will have the choice of having a desk phone or a selected headset at no cost. Northwestern IT is identifying potential incentives to those who choose to use the software based phone/headset option over the desk phone.

Will training be available?

Yes. Both classroom and online training will be offered. Prior to your migration date, you will receive an email with steps to register for in-person training. Online training resources are also available.

What are the next steps?

During FY2018, Northwestern IT will begin scheduling meetings with leadership in schools and departments to gather the necessary information for the planning the migration to the new voice system. Visit the migration time lines web page to see when your school or department will be migrated.

Where Can I get updated information?

Northwestern IT has created the IT Projects: Voice Platform Replacement web page with up-to-date information about the project.

What support options are available after my phone is migrated?

The following support resources are available to help you before and after your migration:

Last Updated: 30 November 2017

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