The Daily Mail – BT Case Study

The Associated Newspapers Group is one of the UK’s largest publishing companies, with papers and magazines under its umbrella including the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard, the Metro group of city papers and recent acquisition, Loot.

Associated Newspapers has a strong market share of the dailies. Take for example, the Daily Mail. This title had an average net circulation of 2,434,318 in the period April – Sept 2002 giving it a 25% share of the popular, i.e. tabloid, daily market, (the Sun leads with 36%) and giving it just over 18% of the total daily market when including the broadsheets.

In such a fluctuating market, and with such as wide range of titles, the group has to have strong control over all its communications channels, and always make sure it is at the forefront of technology, especially if it wants to keep pace with its competitors. Information in the publishing world needs to be received quickly and directly to the person who needs it, be it an editor or a member of the advertising sales team.

Like most organisations, the newspaper group is a major user of faxes for receiving both advertising and copy, in addition to sending out letters and invoices. Associated Newspapers turned to BT when it wanted to streamline its use of faxing, creating savings and providing a more convenient means of sending tailored and personalised faxes worldwide.

The majority of faxes sent to and from the group consisted of advertising, whether it be display or classified ads. Editorial also uses these facilities, but advertising was the core reason behind making the changes. The group was actually surprised to find out how much the expense of fax machines and upkeep was costing them: “they were looking for a way of reducing the actual cost, not only of buying the machines, but renting them, fixing them, and also the enormous cost of all the sundries associated with running them in terms of paper, toner, maintenance,” notes Mike Penn, Account Director for BT. “They wanted to find a way that was more cost effective, and a solution that would work across the whole of their HQ and gave them the opportunity to get rid of all the fax machines,” he adds.

After sitting down and discussing the group’s precise needs, BT’s Ignite team was able to offer a simple solution to integrate the use of faxes onto each staff members PC, dramatically lowering costs and maximising value from people and assets inside of the business.

The five-year contract offered was a state-of-the-art, managed desktop electronic fax solution. Available over Lotus Notes from more than 2000 PCs across the offices, the service also integrated the customer’s existing fax software.  Each user now has their own personal DDI fax number. The group was an existing user of the e-fax solution on a very small scale, with around 15 users for critical requirements, and the company wanted to implement the solution across the whole of the organisation, which is currently taking place.

BT has created an ‘invisible’ communications solution for the group, by hosting the hardware offsite and delivering the faxes to the correct desktop using private circuits. “Where it is being used it is being received well,” says Penn. “To the users, it is pretty much invisible other than the fax is on their PC rather than in a corner on a fax machine.”

The benefits for Associated Newspapers are enormous. Roll-out currently continues to take place, but already it has been calculated that the electronic fax service will save the group more than £250,000 a year, and let them see a return on investment (ROI) after roughly 12 months of use.

Time savings will also be high, turning into monetary savings as staff are freed-up to work on other things. Ease of faxing is now similar to emailing, as previously a fax may have been busy or hadn’t responded due to lack of toner or paper, and faxes can now be sent easily with the correct template for each newspaper in the group. There is also the bonus of no delay in receiving responses, as instead of piles of hard copy waiting to be answered, with e-fax, responses are generally faster if not instantaneous.

Although this solution was created specifically to fulfil Associated Newspapers needs, there are many large companies that continue to be major users of fax machines, and would benefits from a solution of this type, dramatically lowering costs, and making employees more efficient. As the Associated Newspapers roll-out continues to be a success for all concerned, perhaps these companies should have a look around at the kind of savings such a service could offer.

TECH

Under a £1.6m, five-year managed service contract AMB (Associated Mediabase) signed; AMB being responsible for the development and integration of Associated Newspapers’ expansion into electronic information delivery, BT Ignite has created an e-fax solution for the group. The design consists of two elements; a customer solution that meets the business needs of its users, that being the sales and editorial staff, and a BT Management Solution, that monitors the system for faults etc. The configuration is hosted at BT’s Keybridge House data centre, at Vauxhall, and is currently configured to provide a throughput of 5000 faxes per week.

Associated Newspapers has a range of 4000 phone numbers, selected to allow the user to have the same last four digits for voice and fax. The phone numbers are terminated on an ISDN30 circuit, allowing plenty of capacity for future expansion.

The contract offers hardware and software consisting of:

•    Compaq servers running MS Windows NT4

•    Lotus Notes for mail

•    Fax Sr applications software for fax management

•    Dialogic Fax cards
•    ISDN 30
•    FrameStream plus resilience –64Kb circuits to provide connectivity from the ANL LAN to the Fax gateway, each with an ISDN2 failover to provide added resilience.

The BT implementation team consisted of roughly 11 people, and in addition a host of people from Global Customer Services and Network Management Services were involved with the service provision. In this case implementation had a few bumps due to internal issues with the company, however when resolved, the solution is simple to implement. “If the question was how quickly you could do it, Id say around 20 weeks at best,” says Larry Brotherton, the BT Ignite project manager. “The main issues are the lead time for phone numbers and associated data circuits, (90 days), and the installation and configuration of the Fax Sr software,” he adds.