SPC branches out with Cisco

SAUDI Post Corporation (SPC) is linking up its 6,000 branches across the Kingdom, as part of a massive project to overhaul its entire communications infrastructure.

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By  Diana Milne Published  August 6, 2006

SAUDI Post Corporation (SPC) is linking up its 6,000 branches across the Kingdom, as part of a massive project to overhaul its entire communications infrastructure. In the first phase of the project, which is currently underway, 120 of SPC’s branches will be linked to the organisation’s headquarters in Riyadh. However, by the time the work is completed by Cisco’s partner Jeraisy Computer and Communication Services, all 6,000 branches will be linked together, with the infrastructure including local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) networking systems, data centres, internet protocol (IP) telephony and networking security technology. “Saudi Post Corporation has been transformed from a state of ‘stagnancy’ to a state of ‘reformation’,” Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Taher Benton, president of SPC, said. “It was essential to implement an advanced and a reliable communications infrastructure to match international standards and provide more efficient services to our valued customers,” he added. The deal has been worked on for a long time by Cisco, which conducted workshops in London, UK, and Riyadh to align the technology and business requirements. “The idea is to build a network infrastructure which connects all these branches and potentially some mobile vehicles as well, and build a data centre where these branches and mobile vehicles can connect and access information online,” said Ziad Mortaja, operations director at Cisco in Saudi Arabia. “They [SPC] are building many backoffice systems that they want to make available to all their agents online regardless of their location, in a remote office or moving vehicle or whatever,” he added. Mortaja said that the network infrastructure would play an important role in terms of information exchange and the ability of the SPC staff to communicate with each other. He explained that the network would facilitate SPC’s ambitious growth plans, including its main goal of rolling out door-to-door postal services throughout the Kingdom. Dr Usaman Altaf, CIO at SPC, said that “our project with Cisco Systems will be the kernel of building up a vibrant and top-notch infrastructure that helps provide the citizens with the best postal services, enabling the Saudi Post Corporation to efficiently provide additional postal services.” “The network will improve their ability to serve their customers because of availability of information. It enables them to mobilise their workforce more efficiently because of the availability of information being online,” Mortaja claimed. He explained that SPC will be able to plan where to send people based on their current locations and if customers have any issues with their services, the new infrastructure would allow agents to access this information online and respond much quicker to customers. He also said that SPC planned to provide additional services to its customers and that the Cisco network linking the branches would help to support these changes. “Saudi Post has plans for their branches to be multi-service as well, not only serving post needs but potentially providing other services in agreement with government entities,” he added. Mortaja explained that one of the factors that was hindering the development of SPC previously was the fact that its branches were in relative isolation from each other — a state that Cisco’s network would transform. “In the past it had been like isolated islands without much integration between the various post offices. There was no clear flow of information; they were just really focusing on the actual delivery of the letters,” he said. “Now they can report back very quickly, they can look at their costs, they can look at the efficiencies and the various services they can deliver,” Mortaja went on to explain.

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