The UC&C behaviours that must be implemented along with the products

Recent research suggests unified communications and collaboration projects must evolve “from ports to people,” and network admins could play a big role

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Would you marry someone just because their online dating profile fit all the characteristics you want in a life partner? Or buy a house based solely on the features described in its MLS listing?

Probably not. We all know that buying – or buying into – something is way more complicated than simply making sure it ticks all the boxes on our wish list. What seems like a perfect fit on paper may not actually work for us in real life.

This tenet may be getting lost in today’s move to unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technology. As Keith Ferrazzi notes in a blog for Harvard Business Review, recent research points to an alarming disconnect between what UC&C can do and how well it actually serves users’ needs:

  • according to a Unify survey Ferrazzi cites, 79 per cent of knowledge workers always or frequently work in virtual teams – but just 44 per cent find it as productive as face-to-face
  • in the same study, 43 per cent feel “frustrated and overwhelmed” by their UC&C technology
  • 72 per cent say video would make teamwork easier, but only 34 per cent actually use it to collaborate with coworkers

I dug up another UC&C survey of 1,320 IT decision makers and 1,390 employees in 18 countries. This 2013 Dimension Data study found that:

  • “Almost 60 per cent of organizations with a UC&C investment budget consult their end users but … only seven per cent of decision makers say users have a high degree of influence (on UC&C).”
  • “Organizations don’t seem to be taking user feedback as seriously as they should. This is critical because UC&C users expect multiple device support and applications that match their requirements. If these expectations aren’t met, user adoption will lag.”

What can network admins learn from all this research? Don’t just go shopping for a UC&C solution; ask users – not just managers – what type of UC&C they need first. Then factor those needs into procurement and/or design. Warn managers that technology can’t do all the heavy lifting; people must also do their fair share. As Ferrazzi explains, that could mean sharing personal stories to build team bonding, or banning multitasking during virtual meetings.

Users must be trained to take full advantage of their UC&C tools beforehand. But you must also check in with them continually afterwards. Create ways to measure the effectiveness of your UC&C strategy, too. (Only eight per cent of the organizations in the Unify study have a formal system to measure and manage team performance, and thus, to help gauge UC&C’s ROI.)

As the Unify study suggests, the focus of UC&C must shift “from ports to people … (from) a technology platform to a focus on the user experience.” Adds Ferrazzi: “You’ll need to move your team to a new set of behaviours, not just to a new generation of technology, with human engagement as the first priority.”

In other words, adopting UC&C is about more than just ticking off a bunch of boxes. And network admins can play a valuable leadership role in the process.

Learn more by downloading The Enterprise Collaboration eBook: A How-to Guide to Unified Communications

photo credit: sp3ccylad via photopin cc

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