Switzerland’s second largest retailer, Coop, is preparing for the switch to the IP network. As well as some challenging times ahead, it can see clear opportunities that must be taken.
By the end of 2017, Swisscom will replace the traditional analogue telephone network with a nationwide IP network. For Coop, this means that, in around 2,000 branches, all the equipment that is connected to an analogue or ISDN connection must be prepared for migration to the IP network. “We have an average of five such devices in operation at each retail outlet,” says Peter Weisskopf, Head of Telecommunications. “They are mainly used for alarms, such as intrusion detection systems, or remote maintenance.” Coop has already been getting ready for the forthcoming switch to All IP for a number of years. The actual migration project began in April 2014.
Planning the migration process involves not only technical aspects, but also the human dimension, according to Peter Weisskopf: “We are talking a lot to internal departments that buy and manage this equipment. We have to make it clear to them that communication is going to change.” There is also a lot of detective work to do. “Analogue systems are often hidden deep in the cellar. We have to find them first, check what they do and inventory them. This gives us a solid basis for future projections: we know more precisely what we need to do and how much it will cost.”
Can Coop benefit from the switch to the IP network? “Of course,” says Peter Weisskopf. “Firstly, for each individual device and the related processes, we can check whether we still actually need it. By analysing the inventory in terms of its suitability to meet current needs, we can provide our departments with some important information. But the main benefit for me, as the person responsible for costs, is the fact that we will be saving the cost of subscription charges for numerous analogue and ISDN connections that we no longer need.” What advice would Peter Weisskopf give to other companies? “Start the analysis immediately! Find out exactly what systems are using an analogue connection and whether you still need them. If you do, then start seriously planning the migration process as soon as possible.”