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Convergent Helps Red Wing Shoe Company Slash Travel Costs and
Improve Collaboration with Microsoft Unified Communications Technology
The Convergent The Situation
solution: The Red Wing Shoe Company is one of the world’s most respected manufacturers of durable,
• Microsoft Exchange 2007 safe and comfortable work boots and shoes. The company also offers casual shoes and premium
• Microsoft Office outdoor footwear. With multiple facilities in the United States and a presence in Japan and Europe,
• Communications Server Red Wing employs hundreds of craftspeople making thousands of pairs of shoes by hand every day.
• NET VX Gateway and
• Integration into existing
Red Wing’s workforce depends on 450
corporate PCs and about 400 devices in
“With Microsoft Unified
• Avaya PBX
• Access to Convergent’s
company-owned brick-and-mortar retail stores. Communications, Convergent
Among these users are product development
• 24x7 UC Support Center
teams and regional sales teams that frequently
is offering us 21st century
needed to fly to company headquarters in Red collaborations tools that
Wing, MN, or to the organization’s many retail
shops and expanding overseas offices. These will work very well with the
trips consumed a significant amount of the
teams’ time and were an expensive part of
longstanding creativity and
Red Wing’s business operations, but seemed quality that Red Wing has
necessary to carry out collaboration within
the company’s sprawling marketing base.
built on. This new technology
Red Wing IT Architecture and Operations allows us to become much
Director Mike Cleary sought a more efficient
way for staff to collaborate while at the same
more efficient and provide
time reducing the heavy travel costs. The better service to our
company had been using Microsoft Exchange
2003, which it implemented on its own, but
– Mike Cleary
Red Wing Shoe Company’s IT team knew they
Director, IT Architecture & Operations
were not using Exchange to its full potential.
W: www.convergent- Red Wing Shoe Company
Staff did not have remote access to their
Microsoft Office applications, such as e-mail
B: www.tincupsandstring.com and calendars, when they were on the road, and Cleary’s vision was for Red Wing personnel
Sales: to be able to “work wherever you are, whenever you want.”
E: sales@convergent- Convergent has been a long-time technology partner of Red Wing Shoe Company, working
solutions.com together on the technology in Red Wing’s data center and providing service and support. Red
P: (952) 303-7100 Wing’s architecture and operations teams consulted with Convergent and discovered that Microsoft’s
Unified Communications technology would be the perfect solution to meet his objectives.
P: (952) 303-7100
In December 2008, the team began working with Convergent on a plan to implement Unified
Communications throughout Red Wing Shoe Company. The first step was to upgrade Red Wing’s
Exchange server to the 2007 version. Then, in the first quarter of 2009, Convergent added
Microsoft’s Office Communications Server 2007 R2 (OCS), a platform that would enable Red
Wing to boost its communication and collaboration capabilities tremendously through:
• Display of each user’s “Enhanced Presence,” an indicator showing who is online and
• available for messages, calls or conferences
• Desktop sharing
• Instant messaging
• Audio and/or video conferencing
• Enterprise Voice, Microsoft’s voice-over-IP solution that brings unprecedented flexibility
• to digital communications
As part of the implementation, Convergent activated the Office Outlook Web Access (OWA)
feature of Exchange that, through the Web, gives mobile workers nearly all the features of the
Microsoft Outlook application on their PC desktops. Additionally, the team also implemented the
Outlook Anywhere feature to eliminate the need for a virtual private network (VPN) connection in
order to access email and calendar. Now employees who were on the road, anywhere in the world,
could log into OWA to retrieve, read and send e-mail and attachments, view and update their
calendars, track their tasks and call up information on contacts.
Next, Convergent provided Red Wing with Microsoft LiveMeeting video and audio conferencing,
so that individuals could see and talk with each other directly through their PCs. Moreover, with
OCS, any Enterprise Voice phone call could be immediately escalated to an audio conference
or a LiveMeeting video conference with the click of a button, easily adding participants in
the conference as necessary.
Half a dozen Red Wing locations – a warehouse in Salt Lake City, plants in Potosi, MO., and Houston,
W: www.convergent- TX, a tannery in Red Wing, and other facilities – were equipped with Microsoft’s RoundTable, a
solutions.com videoconferencing technology that provides 360-degree panoramic video of everyone at a conference
table with a camera that automatically tracks the speakers. The RoundTable displays images of
meeting participants, helping remote workers and those in the conference room feel that they all
Sales: are at a single table, talking face to face. Red Wing Shoe Company deployed webcams to individual
E: sales@convergent- employees – mostly remote and mobile workers – and, as old laptops are phased out, they are
solutions.com replaced with devices that are equipped with integrated cameras and USB headsets.
P: (952) 303-7100 For telephony, Convergent integrated OCS with Red Wing’s existing Avaya PBX system. Convergent
had made a strategic investment in talented staff with a long history of working with phone systems.
With its telephony and infrastructure experts, Convergent has been able to blend the best of both
technology worlds. Now, since all communications are digital, Red Wing employees have the option
solutions.com of hearing their e-mail read or reading their voicemail and can choose to respond in written,
P: (952) 303-7100 voice and video communication.
Cleary cites two important advantages of Microsoft Unified Communications over competing
systems: its level of integration with Microsoft Office and its usability. He says that the familiar
look and feel of Unified Communications really cuts down the amount of training required
and has helped the internal adoption rate.
“I had previously evaluated other communications systems,” Cleary says, “including the IM and
presence capabilities of Avaya and Cisco. I came back again and again to Microsoft. So we didn’t
spend a lot of time on re-evaluating technology once we had approval to implement a unified
communications solution. We knew Microsoft’s was the right product.”
Furthermore, Red Wing Shoe Company had great confidence in Convergent. “We’ve been very
pleased with the expertise that Convergent brings to the table,” Cleary reports. “We’ve had great
results on several fronts with them.”
Convergent owner John Dusek notes that Convergent has been working with Red Wing for nearly
five years, beginning with the company’s request for consultation on storage networks. “It’s been
a great partnership all the way through,” Dusek says.
Red Wing has a relatively small IT staff charged with servicing a dynamic organization, but its
onsite resources are limited. “We lean heavily on Convergent to come to us with the expertise
to implement new technology,” Cleary says. “OCS was very new to us, and we needed to have it
integrated with our Avaya phone switch. We connected with Convergent because we were looking
for a partner to do a multiphase project and walk us through a well-paced effort where we could
start small and then move on to more complex capabilities.”
Convergent’s consulting style fit well with that need. “We ask customers what they want to do,
their goals, and then integrate the right technology,” Dusek says. “Exchange was a good building
block, and OCS had features above and beyond those of Exchange that could benefit Red Wing
day to day. We put in trials and the user community grabbed it and ran with it.”
“With our staff being relatively new to technology, we didn’t expect them to adopt
W: www.convergent- Unified Communications as fast as they did,” Cleary recalls. “They surprised us.”
solutions.com Traveling teams report that they especially like the voice-commands capability of Exchange
B: www.tincupsandstring.com and OCS. “They like hands-free capability in the car,” Cleary says. “We are a fair distance from
Minneapolis, where a lot of our people live and have long commutes. Unified Communications
Sales: gives them a chance to get a head start on their day and finish a few things on the way home
E: sales@convergent- at night with voice commands.”
The impact of Microsoft Unified Communications from Convergent has been considerable for
P: (952) 303-7100 Red Wing Shoe Company in a number of areas:
Support: • Cost savings. Cleary reports, “Within the first two months after deployment of OCS and Unified
E: support@convergent- • Communications, we stopped calculating cost savings because it already had captured the cost
solutions.com • of implementation. The ROI was incredibly high.”
P: (952) 303-7100
• Time Savings. The presence capabilities of Unified Communications enables Red Wing to save
• a great amount of time by knowing where and when people are located and their availability.
• Sales and product teams gain days of available time because they no longer need to spend
• so much time traveling to meetings, which now can be conducted by videoconference.
• Company growth. The technology that OCS brings to the desktop is the type of advanced
• capability that high-level college students entering the workforce are looking for. Red Wing
• therefore has an advantage over many competitors in attracting the best and brightest talent
• by meeting their expectations.
• Improved accuracy. Because the company now can collaborate globally and visually display
• documents for editing and discussion in real time, everyone understands the current state of
• project development.
• Reduced IT administration. Unified Communications has simplified the work of Red Wing’s
• IT department. For example, Cleary observes, “We are doing renovations in our corporate
• offices, which means we are shifting the workforce from one floor to another. Having to
• relocate staff within the building is much easier with OCS Enterprise Voice, because we don’t
• have to move their phone lines and re-patch. People can pick up and move wherever they are.”
• From a day-to-day perspective, Unified Communications gives IT a more simplified, consolidated
• view of the company’s telecommunications and collaboration tools.
• Better planning. The collaboration features of Unified Communications make the company
• much more efficient at doing its planning. Sales teams can have 20 or 30 members online to
• look at quarterly forecasts, working in real time, to make adjustments in their plans.
• Improved supply-chain management. Part of Red Wing’s process now is to ask suppliers
• about the kind of collaboration tools they have and to see if they can be combined with Red
• Wing’s technology to gain the presence feature and better integrate with the supplier community.
P: (952) 303-7100
P: (952) 303-7100