Unified communications needs to be taught, not just deployed

Three essential tactics to ensure people dive in successfully

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Versatility is the selling point for unified communications: the technology lets users correspond in a number of ways (office phone, tablet, smartphone, through calls, emails, texts and videoconferences), regardless of location. But that versatility makes it difficult for organizations to get users up to speed on UC.

Presented with a wealth of communication options—and a range of configuration choices for presence, message access and overall connectivity management—users can be overwhelmed by the complete UC suite.

Organizations need to provide training if they want users to embrace UC—and that’s a challenge. On one hand, users might balk at the suggestion that they should spend a day or two in class-like meetings to get completely coached. On the other hand, telling users to download and watch (according to their own schedules) a video tutorial practically guarantees they won’t find the time and the UC system will go under-used.

So how what’s the best way to train people on UC? We zeroed in on three essential tactics: break up the training; identify use cases; and get help from technology vendors.

Break up the training

Given that UC has numerous options that could overwhelm users, it’s best to split the training into reasonable chunks. Start with the basics, “and then do follow-up training on some of the additional capabilities,” says Blair Pleasant, president of UC market research company COMMfusion LLC, in a post on UCStrategies.com. “Otherwise, what ends up happening is that people use just one or two features and functions…and they really don’t take advantage of and remember to use some of the others.”

What are “the basics”? In an email exchange, Pleasant says for most users, the basics comprise convergence capabilities, such as click-to-call, single-number reach and presence. After that, “you can add training or mobility features, telework for those who need it, more advanced conferencing features, federating with people outside of the organization and videoconferencing.”

Identify use cases

Commenting on the UCStrategies post, Art Rosenberg notes the importance of identifying use cases before the training kick-off. Every user group is different, he says. One group may be more interested in unified messaging than presence, or smartphone accessibility over enterprise social media capabilities. Figure out which applications will resonate the most with each user group and focus on the appropriate features.

Get help from vendors

UC vendors often have material that organizations can use for training. For instance, Plantronics Inc., the desktop communications equipment provider, offers video set-up guides. Organizations can download videos about specific headsets and softphones, and make the videos available on the corporate intranet. Let’s say the organization uses Avaya’s one-X Agent and Plantronics’ Voyager PRO UC headset; there’s a video for that pairing.

By using vendors’ materials, identifying the use cases and sectioning training into digestible modules, organizations have a better chance of seeing their UC investments used to the fullest.

Back up a second: Before you even begin training, understand the total value of unified communciations by tuning into our on-demand Webinar, SIP Trunking: Take Your UC Strategy to the Next Level.


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