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You know voice over IP has reached the mainstream when a company that describes itself as conservative builds VOIP migration into its data and voice communications road map.

"The idea was never if it should happen, but when it should happen," said Steve Lydston, IS manager for Networks and Security for Nissan North America Inc., based in Gardena, Calif. With an eye toward saving money and improving corporate collaboration, Lydston studied VOIP for several years. When he judged the time to be right, Lydston embarked on a plan that would span several years, gradually bringing VOIP into all company offices and factories.

"We take a very conservative view of things. We don't want to put the company at risk of serious outages," said Lydston. "We purchased technology to allow us to IP-enable all of our locations, but so we would not have to jump into everything at once." The move to VOIP started almost three years ago, said Lydston, and it will go on for three to four years.

Nissan's culture may be conservative, but with the company close to bankruptcy in 1999, dramatic changes were needed. In the face of industry watchers' predictions that Nissan would be acquired, Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn launched the Nissan Revival Plan and its sequel, Nissan 180, which is in the final year of its three-year life span. The number 180 is derived from the goals of the plan: to sell 1 million more units globally this year than in 2001, to achieve an 8 percent operating profit margin and to reduce debt to zero.

The implementation of VOIP, and the money savings it is expected to generate, is one component in the massive global initiative. But dollar savings aren't the only reason for the move to VOIP. Enabling closer collaboration across far-flung worldwide operations is another. Videoconferencing between design and manufacturing engineers is a key goal.

VOIP Passes Nissan Road Test
 
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