Do UC&C buyers really know their users?
The term Unified Communications has been around for a long time now but do we really have unification in our communication? How many organizations provide their employees the tools to seamlessly migrate from one mode of communication to another, no matter the devices they are using? There are two main reasons we have a lack of unification. One is more of an industry problem. For years, we have been unable to develop a consistent user interface across the UC&C stack. Thankfully this is beginning to be addressed. Going forward the challenge will be to focus first on the business outcome before beginning to look at the technology.
UC&C is all about improving communication and business process by leveraging technology tools. If we take a technology-first approach, we tend to look only at a particular silo of the UC&C stack or limited applications for the technology.
Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C Survey reveals that 78 percent of IT decision makers say they have plans for the use of UC&C tools in “silos,” but only about 16 percent described themselves as having a comprehensive UC&C plan. As Dimension Data sees it, that’s a significant concern – more than three quarters of IT buyers, it seems, are implementing UC&C technologies piecemeal and missing out on the cost savings, productivity potential and efficiency benefits of a comprehensive strategy.
In other words, they’re not getting true business outcomes from their UC&C purchases.
I like to use ERP systems as an analogy. Organizations implement ERP systems to make the functional units perform better by integrating all of the functions of business into a single database. Prior to ERP roll-out, organizations spend a tremendous amount of time reviewing the functional requirements of the business to ensure its success. UC&C should be viewed the same way. We need to understand the functional communication requirements of the business and the users prior to rolling out the technology.
By and large, this shift in approach to UC&C implementation is only beginning.
For years, everyone had a different definition for UC&C. The voice teams looked at it as the migration from TDM to IP. The desktop teams viewed it as IM/P and web collaboration. The video teams looked at it as an expansion of video to immersive video on the high-end and personal video on the low end. All of these improvements are a positive but we have struggled to get the full value out of the investments made in these technologies. We have seen inconsistent adoption and a lack of organizational reporting on business impact.
Do UC&C Buyers Really Know Their Users?
The result is that many IT decision makers and their employees end up confused and frustrated. They may have bought the right tools – sometimes too many – but they lack the guidance and a comprehensive approach for how the tools can be leveraged and are part of a uniform strategy.
As noted in Dimension Data’s survey, about 75 percent of the IT leaders surveyed feel their users understand the tools they have available to them, but only 42 percent of the actual end users feel that they were educated on the tools they have available to them. Even less feel they understand how the tools can integrate into their day to day business workflow.
With ERP it is easy to gain adoption because the new tool replaces the old tool. When new communications tools are rolled out, rarely do the old tools go away. So the biggest misconception we see is that the buyers believe if they make an investment, users will adopt it. Users are used to communicating one way. We cannot assume users know or understand how the tools can help them.
In many cases, technology buyers simply aren’t getting to know their users. This is a big mistake. Among the more eye-popping statistics in Dimension Data’s study was that nearly a quarter of organizations surveyed believed all users had the same profile, and 13 percent of organization surveyed saw no value in profiling at all.
For organizations to maximize their investments in UC&C, they have to understand the users’ business and communication requirements. They have to show the users how these tools will improve their day-to-day business. There needs to be defined metrics to measure the success of these improvements as well as a constant feedback mechanism to ensure the UC&C solution and strategy is meeting the every changing requirements of the business.
The success of UC&C investment is not in the technology. It is vital organizations focus on their desired business outcome, user experience, define their success metrics and have a continuous feedback mechanism from their end users prior to their evaluation of the technology. Adopting this strategy will lead to improved organizational communication and provide the greatest return on the investment in their UC&C tools.