United Bank for Africa

At a Glance

  • Reduced cost of telephony and travel costs
  • Ease of use resulted in greater communications
  • Achieved a 1 year return on investment

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Unified Communications Keeps Seven Million Banking Customers In Touch Across 18 African Countries.

Polycom unified communications keeps African bank with 750 branches in touch with its seven million customers across 18 countries.


United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group is one of Africa’s leading financial institutions offering banking services to more than seven million customers via 750 branches in 18 African countries. With further offices in New York, London and Paris, UBA is connecting people and businesses across the world through retail and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments, trade finance and investment banking.

Over the past three years, UBA had undergone a period of rapid expansion that had seen affiliate banks in 16 African countries come on board. This expansion has naturally put the group’s communication infrastructure under pressure.

In order for the Group to improve and extend its communication network at the same time as alleviating the increasing pressure on travelling executives it sought an integrated communications platform to deliver the flexibility and dynamic resource allocation they needed for unified communications (UC).

The Group stated “We required a platform to deliver an integrated telephony and video conferencing solution with the flexibility to accommodate the growing number of disparate and geographically-dispersed end-points.”

The IT team was asked to lead an investigation on the best solutions available. The team sought the expertise of Stallion Technology, a Nigeria based company specialised in Audio Visual innovative solutions, and deploying sophisticated technologies.

The Polycom solution

Stallion Technologies recommended a mix of Polycom HDX 7000 room telepresence solutions and Polycom VVX 1500 D Dual Stack (H.323 and SIP) Business Media Phones based on a Polycom Intelligent Core platform.

Polycom’s UC Intelligent Core is a mix of industry-leading bridging, virtualisation, management, scheduling and gate-keeping systems enabling customers to connect the most people in the highest quality at the lowest cost, both inside and outside their organisation.

The Polycom Intelligent Core platform for the UBA comprised the Polycom RMX 2000 real-time multimedia conference platform, Polycom RSS 4000 recording and streaming server, Polycom Recording Studio (PRS) 2000 and Polycom Video Media Centre (VMC) 1000 content management solution and live broadcast/streaming solution.

“The Polycom Intelligent Core installed at our head office in Lagos delivers the integrated network functionality and connectivity we wanted while ensuring an unsurpassed collaboration experience for our users,” said the Group. “With such a diverse range of end-points and a commitment to further expansion, we have to be sure of an open-standard, scalable and flexible platform to take us forward.”

The company also invested in Polycom Digital Signage (PDS) 2000 systems plus 100 CMA Desktop solutions.

“Polycom offered the most comprehensive and viable solution for our extremely diverse requirements,” claimed the Group. “We installed the equipment across 60 locations within two months and set about trialing it.”

The usage

The Polycom HDX telepresence systems have been installed in a special conference auditorium as well as in the training centre at the head office in Lagos. Four more were implemented in executive meeting rooms around the country while the remaining four have been installed in the main regional offices in the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya.

“The HDX systems are now in constant use for executive briefings, board meetings quarterly business reviews and strategy meetings across our operation,” the Group continued. “The Polycom CMA Desktop solutions have been an especially worthwhile investment by enabling those without access to a VVX or HDX to participate in meetings.” The Polycom CMA Desktop is a powerful PC-based video conferencing soft client that allows users to seamlessly communicate over video with immersive, room and personal telepresence environments, as well as through traditional video conferencing settings.

The Polycom PDS is an easy-to-use digital signage solution for managing and scheduling on-screen content to deliver broadcast-quality video and graphics via minimum network bandwidth. These easy-to-use display systems are to be located in high-traffic retail UBA bank lobbies to advertise to customers. After hours, they will be utilised for staff training on new products and services.

The 50 Polycom VVX desktop conference phones are delivering simple conferencing capability from the desks of all country CEOs and regional directors as well all executive directors and oversight managers for IT, retail, marketing etc within central office in Lagos.

The benefits

The Group confirmed that in the past, executives and board directors would typically have flown around the country and, indeed, the continent, to attend meetings. This has wasted up to four days of valuable time for each meeting and resulted in fatigue, disruption to normal business and expense. “The benefits of the new Polycom solution cannot be underestimated,” the Group said. “We have achieved our goal of more effective collaboration, reduced the cost of telephony across the organisation – as well as saving travel time and costs.”

In fact, the Group Financial department estimated the travel costs saved by the new Polycom platform will have paid off the equipment in their first year of use.

Future plans

With the Polycom UC Intelligent Core delivering an open standards-based foundation for deploying adapting and extending its UC ecosystem, UBA is looking to bring outside collaborators into the network.

“We have different financial and technical teams working across multiple geographies and will be using the Polycom UC platform to integrate with these associates,” the Group concluded. “Thanks to Polycom’s open standards, we have the freedom to connect with any proprietary platform, anywhere, anytime.”

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“The Polycom Intelligent Core installed at our head office in Lagos delivers the integrated network functionality and connectivity we wanted while ensuring an unsurpassed collaboration experience for our users”

UBA Group