Case Study: 8×8 Eases Global Communications for ECO2

ECO2 Forests President Martin Tindall didnt start out as an environmentalist, but as his work for international companies had him heading around the globe, what he saw was one damaged environment after another. He began to realize there was a straightforward solution: create new forests.

In 2006, this insight led Tindall and his business partners to found ECO2 Forests, a progressive international forestation company focused on reforestation of previously damaged and deforested land and saving existing threatened forests. Using the companys Global Forestry Plan, the company has implemented an innovative business model built on long-term sustainability.

The key to the companys business model is the Kiri Tree. A rapidly growing, high carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestering tree, Kiri forests can be safely harvested for lumber every seven years without damaging the environment. Even more remarkably, the trees then automatically regenerate themselves from the stump, producing another harvestable forest in seven years. This steady supply of lumber helps protect old-growth forests which remain untouched, while each Kiri Tree eliminates 2.5 tons of C02 from the atmosphere. It also provides ECO2 Forests with two significant revenue streams: one from lumber and the other from carbon credits, both of which can be traded internationally.

Indigenous to China and Japan, the Kiri Tree can be grown worldwide. ECO2 Forests already has secured land to plant 29,000 acres in Australia, Vanuatu and the United States, and plans to cultivate more than a million and a half acres globally. Problems like deforestation and rising CO2 levels are global concerns that require global solutions, noted Tindall. Whether you live in the U.S., Europe, Australia or the developing world, we all have to breathe the same air.

Challenge. Establishing global operations presented a business challenges as well. Tindall began spending much of his time traveling between the companys offices in Queensland, Australia, and Sacramento, Calif., in addition to scouting numerous other international locations for possible cultivation. ECO2 Forests other geographically dispersed employees had to rely on disparate, regional service providers for voice communications and Internet access. The resulting fragmentation and lack of business-class features made it difficult and expensive for the companys global team to stay in touch.

Tindall began looking for a VoIP solution that would provide standardized, enterprise-quality communications for all employees. What he found, however, was that most VoIP solutions offered only limited features and lacked the mobile functionality he and the other ECO2 Forests employees needed for their iPhones. These needs were the primary drivers behind his decision to install Virtual Office Pro from 8×8 Inc.

8×8 Virtual Office Pro not only provides a very strong suite of communication services, it also supports a number of add-on applications including one for the iPhone, said Tindall. The pricing for these rich features was also very competitive. It was clear to me that using 8×8 Virtual Office Pro would deliver the most value for us.

8×8 Virtual Office Pro provides a complete communications solution for ECO2 Forests, including phone service, online faxing, Web conferencing, call recording and other Web-based productivity tools. 

The Virtual Office Mobile application included in the Virtual Office Pro bundle provides the company with significant cost savings as well by allowing employees to place local and international calls on their iPhones using their Virtual Office calling plans instead of their cellular calling plans. Employees can get the same savings outside the United States by using the Virtual Office Mobile application in Wi-Fi zones to avoid any international data roaming charges associated with their cellular plans.

“With 8×8, we now have the freedom to use our iPhones as much as we need to, without constantly worrying about cost constraints, said Tindall. As we continue to expand our operations, well be able to deploy a highly productive global workforce to support our Global Forestry Plan.

Having one unified global phone system has also simplified internal calling for ECO2 Forests by allowing employees to place and transfer calls using four-digit dialing.

An employee in Florida can call a colleague in Australia or transfer a call to a coworker in Sacramento just by dialing their four-digit extension. It completely eliminates the complexity of long-distance or international calling and lets geographically distant employees reach each other as easily as if they shared the same office space, explained Tindall.

Results. As he contemplates ECO2 Forests plans to expand into 20 more countries, Tindall is confident that 8×8 Virtual Office Pro will continue to keep pace and deliver value.

Our first phones were live within hours of arriving, and installation just keeps getting faster and easier. All we have to do is open a new office, connect it to the Web, and activate our 8×8 Virtual Office extensions. This is important as it means we can spend less time setting up our communications system and more time focusing on our business,” he said.

Minimizing the use of paper is also an elementary requirement for a company like ECO2 Forests. Luckily the Virtual Office Pro solution includes both Internet faxing and online billing, which eliminate wasted paper and the CO2 burden of sending bills through the postal system.

We strongly believe in conserving forestry resources as well as replenishing them, said Tindall. Virtual Office Pro saves paper, which ultimately saves trees, and that is central to our corporate mission.

Tindall said he also expects ECO2 Forests to use the Virtual Meeting Web conferencing capabilities included in Virtual Office Pro even more frequently as more company offices open. Virtual Meeting enables audio, Web and video conferencing, and desktop content sharing, for meeting participants worldwide.

Virtual meetings that eliminate employee travel help reduce our companys own carbon footprint and thats certainly in line with our vision to make ECO2 Forests an ethical contributor to the environment, concluded Tindall.

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