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PTA Bank: First in Africa to adopt Polycom RealPresence One

Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development (PTA Bank) is a world class African development finance institution with the vision of integrating and advancing the economies of eastern and southern African countries. PTA Bank's shareholder base includes 18 regional Member States (across COMESA, SADC, EAC, including most IGAD and IOC countries), the African Development Bank as a strategic institutional shareholder, the People’s Bank of China, Paritetbank, regional and non-regional institutional shareholders and other instutitional investors. Headquartered in Bujumbura, Burundi, the bank has regional hubs in Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe and Ebene, Mauritius.

With a mission to be at the forefront of extending development capital and services to advance regional growth and integration through customer focus, the bank seeks innovative ways to facilitate internal communication and improve workflows between team members in different locations in order to increase productivity. Video conferencing was considered as a potential solution by the Information Services team at PTA Bank to improve team communication and collaboration in the organization.

"During the Proof of Concept, we were immediately impressed with Polycom, specifically regarding the requisite for bandwidth. The Polycom solution required significantly less bandwidth than the others in order to deliver excellent quality video even in scenarios with less than ideal levels of packet loss. Also the Web Suite solution and its capacity to meet in a Video Meeting Room (VMR) is an excellent tool that anyone can use from anywhere and on any device," explains Brook Yitaferu, Information Services officer at PTA Bank.

The Polycom solution is now fully deployed at PTA Bank. In all offices, conference rooms have been fitted with a RealPresence Group 500 systems, and almost all employees either have Polycom RealPresence Desktop on their portable endpoint or the possibility to organize meetings via Polycom RealPresence Web Suite allowing them to participate in meetings wether they are in or outside PTA Bank offices.

To connect everything and everyone PTA Bank opted for a virtualized infrastructure solution with Polycom RealPresence One. Brook expresses his pride in the fact that PTA Bank is the first customer in Africa to have made that choice. He confirms, "This was definitely the right decision. It obviously takes less physical space, less power requirement, reduces hardwarebased points of failure, less physical network requirements, and yet delivers all the features of the hardware-based solution and more."

What the solution has brought to the bank is increased flexibility, and greatly improved collaboration and communications. Brook claims, "Our people can join a meeting from anywhere in the world. This speeds up process, and makes our bank more effective. We've seen the difference since the deployment."

Judith Mongala, Marketing Coordinator, adds the solution will now be used regularly as it was last done for the bank's last staff quarterly event during which the President was able to make announcements and updates to all employees including the ones based in other regional offices. Before the Polycom roll out, this message was only received by employees based in HQ, and now all sites are able to join into the VMR, and people on the road are also able to join. "Being able to deliver the same message to all employees at once, face to face, has made a real impact," she confirms. The HR department is leading interviews through video, with Polycom Web Suite. Mongala confirms, “It is so simple to invite anyone to join by sending the calendar invitation that will create the URL. Anyone can do it!"

The adoption is increasing regularly and the bank is working from the top down. As the leaders are scheduling regular meetings by video, the participants having a great experience are then using it for their meetings. The marketing team is also working on an internal campaign to raise awareness.

"The return on investment (ROI) is quick," adds Brook Yitaferu. “Right now we are calculating in travel cost reduction only, and it is very positive. We are looking into other tools to measure the bank’s productivity since the rollout. As we know, the solution has a great influence."