Mitel's communications technology powers the City of Memphis
Lot of serendipity attended the decision of the City of Memphis, Tennessee, to upgrade the out-of-date infrastructure that connected its different departments and supported the citizens in their attempts to engage with the organization. For some time, Mayor Jim Strickland and his team had been aware of its inadequacies, but of course nobody foresaw that 2020 would be a year of lockdowns to protect its vulnerable citizens and contain Covid-19.
Mitel has supported thousands of town and city authorities over the last 50 years, both in the Americas and globally. It was a clear contender to partner the City in this major project. “It was exciting to be asked to help the City of Memphis upgrade their communications infrastructure. We want to be sure our solutions are easy to implement, easy to manage and meet the needs of the City and, most importantly, its residents,” said Stephanie Ford, Vice-President of Vertical Sales at Mitel. “These were also the priorities for the organization’s decision makers, who t outlined among their critical requirements: ease of use and management, as well as adaptability.
Discussions around the upgrade began in 2019 when stakeholders, from the CIO to contact supervisors and users, convened to gain a better understanding of the challenges that they needed to address in overhauling the City’s disparate legacy systems. “We had a PBX system that was over 20 years old, and only one person in our organization really knew how to support it. We were looking for a solution that could better meet our needs. That's why we chose Mitel,”said Kimberly Bailey, the City's Chief Information Officer.
The system that Mitel designed and customized to address these needs was a MiVoice Business Solution which included an integrated contact center that lets employees and the wider community connect more easily via the device and channel of their choice. Working together with its partner CRI, Mitel enabled the City to get the new contact center up and running in time to respond to higher call volumes associated with COVID-19 related inquiries. “The contact center is the ‘storefront’ of any organization, so the impression created within that space sets the stage for the entire customer experience,” said Ford. “With a modern contact center, the City of Memphis can depend on this virtual storefront to ensure the impression it’s making is the best one possible.”
Just as importantly, the new communications platform can support the City’s employees even when they’re not working behind the traditional office walls. This feature proved especially valuable when the pandemic hit and organizations first felt its impact. While many were initially unprepared, the Mitel solution allowed the City of Memphis to power remote working and maintain operations.
“Now we have completed our contact center, the staff are so appreciative to have a system that is portable, where they can easily see metrics and access data, do training, and coach their teams. The initial implementation was very successful, so we’re continuing to deploy the Mitel infrastructure throughout the entire enterprise. Everyone loves it because it’s so much easier to use and it’s moving us into the digital space we want to be in,” said Bailey.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”