As hot as the UC market is right now, you can still find reports and statistics showing discontent with the investment and technology both at the employee level and in the C-suite. A report by Softchoice on failed UC deployments found that the vast majority of users – a full 77% – were not consulted before productivity tools were rolled out and that post-deployment most received little or no training. In a recent article about the Namertes Research report “2015-16 Unified Communications and Collaboration Benchmark,” my colleague Paul Desmond reported that:
In the 2015 survey, 43% of respondents rate their UC deployment as successful or very successful, down from 60.5% in the 2014 survey. Nearly a quarter (24%) said their rollout was downright unsuccessful.
“People are struggling to quantify the value of their investments,” Lazar told me. “They spend a lot to roll out all these applications but they’re not able to measure any kind of tangible benefit.”
What Namertes found was that businesses are not measuring the correct attributes if you want to find out how beneficial a UC solution is to those who use it. Metrics like project completion times, customer satisfaction levels and utilization rates among individual users provides more clarity into whether a UC platform is adding value to the enterprise than traditional IT metrics like overall usage or application performance. To insure your unified communications investment pays off and the technology is adopted and integrated into corporate culture, here are some things to take into consideration.
Communicate with End Users – Match Tools to Individual Employee Requirements
Involving end users ahead of time and making them part of the process can go a long way in increasing acceptance and usage. For example, some tools in the UC arsenal aren’t necessary for certain users. Ask yourself it the accounting team really needs desktop video conferencing capabilities, or is that an example of delivering a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. Often, providing unnecessarily technology reduces adoption rates and increases perceived complexity.
Aligning UC requirements to individual employees and their job functions requires up front and ongoing interaction with end users. For companies looking to expand UC rollouts a great place to start is by mapping functions to various employee roles and providing specific role-based training – you’ll likely see satisfaction and use rates go up.
Designing Workspaces for Collaboration Can Improve UC Adoption
The adoption of UC is happening in conjunction with a few other mega trends, namely the spike in mobile and remote workers, a reduction in the square footage allocated to each employee and a shift towards open office floorplans to pack more employees into a smaller space. These changes can be a lot for employees to adapt to and can have a profound impact on corporate culture. While unified communications technology is meant to enhance collaboration and shrink the distance between remote colleagues and customers, the physical impact of smaller, noisier offices can have an impact on worker’s ability to concentrate and collaborate with colleagues while in the office.
One way businesses are addressing this is by increasing the number of small collaboration or conference spaces (much needed when private offices or even cubicles are on the decline and employees are sharing loud, open bullpen spaces). These so called Huddle rooms are expected to grow from an afterthought in most offices to nearly 50 million spaces by 2050. Outfitting these smaller conference rooms with UC solutions – voice and video – can allow local teams to rapidly collaborate with remote team members and have a meaningful impact not only on face-to-face productivity, but also on UC adoption.
Supporting Remote Workers Increases Productivity, Makes Them Feel Part of the Team
According to Global Workplace Analytics, since 2005 the number of employees that work multiple days per week from their home has grown 80% to over 3.3 million, or about 2.6% of the total U.S. workforce. Now granted, I work in the tech industry, but my personal perspective is teleworkers represent WAY more than 2.6% of the workforce. For these employees, Unified Communications is their lifeline to the office, their colleagues and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively and professionally.
Making sure these workers are outfitted so they have a consistent professional experience is important to a successful UC deployment. Providing high end UC headsets for hands-free communication, or desktop speakerphones can make all the difference when it comes to adoption, productivity and call quality both in the home office and while on the road.
Endpoints Can Make or Break the Experience
When it comes to UC adoption, a recurring theme has been the importance of transitioning to headsets as the audio endpoint of choice, with multiple case studies pointing out the importance of the shift, and Frost & Sullivan even releasing a report stating that headsets increase the ROI of UC and collaboration tools. As the component of a UC solution that physically touches the end user, having a high quality headset has been proven to increase adoption rates, especially with enhanced features.
While preferred headset types vary by user and role, in open office spaces employees are increasingly looking towards headsets that help them block out noise and interruptions. These headsets, like the Jabra Evolve series, create personal “concentration zones” by lighting up to notify colleagues when you are busy and don’t want to be disturbed, cutting out background noise with active and passive noise cancelling technology and delivering the capacity to quickly switch between listening to music and taking a phone call on your deskphone, smartphone or softphone.
What types of actions is your business taking to increase UC adoption rates? Let us know in the comment section below.