Western Union, a global leader in payment and money transfer services, has built a video conferencing solution around the Pexip platform that connects more than 10,000 employees worldwide called the Western Union Audio-Video Experience, or WAVE.
November 28, 2016, Oslo – As a global leader in payment and money transfer services with offices around the world, Western Union was looking was looking at ways to increase cost efficiencies regarding intra-company travel and ways to connect more than 10,000 worldwide personnel with video conferencing.
To solve these issues, Western Union developed WAVE (Western Union Audio-Video Experience) – a company-wide video conferencing solution built around the Pexip® platform. WAVE integrates into Western Union’s existing workflows and connects employees using Microsoft® Skype® for Business to the large mix of video conferencing-equipped meeting rooms, and to other employees using browser-based HD video from their desktops, laptops and personal devices.
As a result, the company has reduced travel expenses. At the same time, it has built a video conferencing platform that extends to all of its employees, improving work efficiencies while simultaneously reducing the average conferencing spend per employee. Today, Western Union consumes millions of minutes of video conferencing on the Pexip platform each month.
Founded in 1851 as an American telegraph company, Western Union has evolved into a global leader in payment and money transfer services. In 2015, the company transferred over $150 billion in principle for its business and commercial customers. Today, Western Union has over 550,000 Agent locations, 100,000 ATMs/kiosks in 200 countries and territories, a web presence in 37 countries and the ability to send money to billions of accounts.
Western Union has more than 10,000 employees around the globe, so keeping them connected is a vital aspect of management.
“Our 30 legacy video-equipped boardrooms required a lot of ‘white glove’ service from our IT department for the executives who used them,” said David Levin, Western Union’s Director of End User Technology. “This meant having two dedicated IT employees arrange bookings and equipment set-up, schedule each room’s usage and communications connections to other locations, and ensure that everything was running properly while in use.”
Beyond Microsoft® Skype® for Business
Western Union was determined to expand the use of collaboration technologies to all its employees. That led the company to roll out Microsoft® Skype® for Business to make one-to-one video conferencing available via camera-equipped desktops and laptops, and also to connect with video-equipped meeting and huddle rooms. While this increased the general availability of video conferencing, interoperability across connecting devices and a centralized network infrastructure became the next challenge.
“The problem,” noted Levin, “is that our legacy video systems and Skype® for Business are not interoperable: they don’t connect easily to each other.”
Additionally, with a large number of people using video conferencing at the same time, and all their paths going through just a few central locations, the bandwidth requirements would be huge, and the traffic and network management issues would be significant. This caused Western Union to review several products as part of a search for a third-party video management solution.
“Pexip Infinity stood out as its distributed nature greatly reduces bandwidth demands. At the same time, it provides interoperability between all kinds of legacy and new video conferencing solutions,” said Levin. “As we could deploy it on-premises, we keep the media and network traffic inside our network, and it is very easy for us to guarantee a high level of QoS, something we could not easily do had we used an external cloud service.”
Pexip Infinity is a software-based meeting and interoperability platform. By natively distributing media in multi-site calls, it reduces the amount of network bandwidth consumed, while maintaining native user experiences for all connected clients. As it is virtualized and uses standard Intel® based servers, deployments can be expanded to new locations easily as needs dictate. Furthermore, Pexip’s ability to allow legacy and new video conferencing platforms to interoperate seamlessly made it the best fit for Western Union.
“Pexip’s interoperability takes the pain out of integrating multiple video platforms, and makes it simple for vendor products made by for instance Cisco, Polycom and Microsoft® to work together,” said Levin.
Western Union WAVE
To maximize its video conferencing reach, Pexip assisted Western Union with integrating Skype® for Business with its mix of meeting rooms and users on the road and at home. Western Union encourages its employees to use WebRTC through Google Chrome browsers, as it provides high-quality video, and is completely plug-in free. All these elements were combined into a unified video solution named the Western Union Audio-Video Experience (WAVE).
The WAVE platform is served to employees via multiple data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia, all running VMware virtualization. This was an environment Western Union already had available, and were very confident with. As a result, the company was able to effectively and easily deploy and support WAVE via its existing infrastructure and without tying up IT time.
Pexip Infinity is distributed across approximately 80 virtual machines around the world, and is currently connecting about 175 video-capable conference rooms – almost all of which are outfitted with Polycom endpoints – with personal users. Rooms range from small breakout rooms equipped with a monitor and camera, to more sophisticated multi-camera boardrooms. WAVE is also available to external employees through Google Chrome browsers for HD video conferencing via WebRTC.
“Fortunately, Pexip Infinity integrates deeply with our scheduling and calendar functionality. We can turn the in-room video equipment on and off based on pre-set conference times. Meetings now start and wrap up on time. In fact, the deep integration with scheduling makes it effortless to join meetings in rooms – you simply walk in, turn the TV or monitor on, and everything else is automated – you join and end the video meeting without having to do anything manually.”
To encourage employee awareness and acceptance of WAVE, Western Union has created a special WAVE task force with trained members across the globe, each of whom can evangelize and demonstrate WAVE’s many benefits to their respective co-workers. “We also kicked off WAVE’s service initiation by holding a beach party at our Denver headquarters,” Levin said. “Most recently, we launched a ‘social media intranet’ well-stocked with videos explaining the many facets of WAVE.”
Costs Down, Productivity Up
Since deploying Pexip Infinity in early 2015, Western Union has seen improvements in its video operations, and huge growth in usage. The company now consumes millions of minutes of video on the Pexip platform each month.
“We have reduced the cost of our white-glove support of video conferences and vastly increased our ability to offer video to nearly all of our employees,” said Levin. “Costs are down, productivity is up, and meetings are kept to their scheduled length due to the inherent control of our solution.”
We have reduced the cost of our white-glove support of video conferences and vastly increased our ability to offer video to nearly all of our employees
Western Union has also seen great logistics and efficiency improvements since deploying Pexip: “Travel costs are dramatically down and our users spend much less time trying to figure out how to run meetings, rather than taking part in them,” said Levin. “Pexip has become the cornerstone supporting Western Union’s 10,000-plus employees, allowing them to benefit from accessible, effective communications around the world.”
To learn more about Pexip visit: www.pexip.com
Founded in 2012, Pexip enables enterprises and organizations to provide video-based communications and collaboration tools to all employees.
The company’s meeting platform enables seamless collaboration across incompatible video and audio technologies such as traditional videoconferencing, Microsoft® Skype® for Business and WebRTC. The unique software provides unmatched capacity and interoperability, and can be deployed in an organization’s data center, or in a private or public cloud such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, as well as in any hybrid combination.
Pexip Infinity is used by numerous Fortune 500 companies in a variety of industries. The technology also powers a large number of the world’s Videoconferencing as a Service (VCaaS) providers. The company was named Global Video Conferencing Technology Innovation Award winner by renowned analysts Frost & Sullivan in 2016.
Pexip is represented on all five continents, and has offices in Oslo, London, Sydney, and New York.
Learn more at www.pexip.com