CIO Dossier: Ben Holder, Unifi - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
6/15/2007
09:23 AM
Brian Gillooly
Brian Gillooly
Commentary
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CIO Dossier: Ben Holder, Unifi

Challenge: Add even more complexity to an already complex IT role by taking on telecom cost-reduction project. Solution: A call to arms, CIO Nation! Ben?s got his own ideas but let's get him some additional CIO input. Ben Holder, CIO of Unifi, a textile manufacturer located in Greensboro, N.C., is in the discovery phase of overhauling the telecom bill-paying and management systems at the company. Not traditionally an IT operation at many companies, telecom is yet another part of the business wh

Challenge: Add even more complexity to an already complex IT role by taking on telecom cost-reduction project. Solution: A call to arms, CIO Nation! Ben?s got his own ideas but let's get him some additional CIO input.

Ben Holder, CIO of Unifi, a textile manufacturer located in Greensboro, N.C., is in the discovery phase of overhauling the telecom bill-paying and management systems at the company. Not traditionally an IT operation at many companies, telecom is yet another part of the business where many CIOs are starting to insert themselves. Here?s what?s going on with Ben and how CIOs can help?As is the case at a lot of companies, the management of telecom billing, as well as asset and service management, is a bit of a mixed bag. Unifi is trying to make things easier for the folks in telecom by streamlining the bill-payment process and making the asset-management operations more transparent. Holder says the company was always looking for ways to drive cost out of the organization, but that the telecom situation always looked ?too complex.? How many CIOs have said that! Bloated telecom costs often fly under the radar, and at Unifi, the company wants to ? well ? ?unify? things so that circuits, phone lines, cell phones, and networking costs, which had been provisioned through purchasing, are better managed by each department incurring the costs. That requires IT?s support.

Holder says there are real opportunities with consolidation and convergence, and he?s hoping to cut 10% out of telecom costs simply through better IT-based management. Twenty to 30% savings, he says, would be ?real money.? He says Unifi is looking at moving to Sprint?s MPLS cloud, where everything goes into the cloud and all telecom traffic is routed outside to a connection at the plant. That way, Unifi doesn?t have to maintain costly redundancies. ?We still find analog connections to modems for fire safety devices and the line has call waiting and call forwarding on it,? says Holder.

So, Nation, which of you CIOs has some solid experience here? Do you manage telecom within your enterprise? Is it centralized or dispersed? If it?s the latter, do you carry the lion?s share of that? What processes do you have in place, and how do you get started? Let?s give Ben some additional peer assistance.

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