you got to teach the world UC

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At last! You’ve deployed your brand-new reliable, robust and scalable Unified Communications system across your enterprise. It has been a long process during which you may have thought about:

  • Enhancing network infrastructure to support your UC architecture in all locations
  • Development of communication enabled business processes
  • Establishing mobile security and access policies
  • Adoption of MDM solutions
  • Social media integration
  • SLA agreements with partners.

so why is no one using your system?

This is something one comes across from time-to-time. Enterprises make substantial investments in their UC systems, but don’t invest in an educational push in order to evangelize use of the new systems.

Sonu Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Unify Square, observes: “If the UC solution is too complicated or the perception of overall satisfaction is low, then they [employees] simply won't use it.”

Think about it: until you convince employees your UC system has value, rather than constituting a time-consuming extra task then the potential gains locked inside these solutions will remain unrealized.

work with the end users – your employees

We have previously said that keep users onside “involve them from the start of the project and get their input in what you want to achieve”.

This means enterprises hoping to develop a UC system should also put time and resources into development of a comprehensive communications plan to train employees in use of the system.

They should do this inclusively, working with staff to identify what does and doesn’t work in the existing system, gather feedback as UC deployment takes place in order to identify problems, and arrange comprehensive training in the solution.

In order to create relevance in UC solutions, “Companies must first understand how employees are speaking to each other, to partners and suppliers, and to customers,” says Aberdeen Group. “For instance, partners and suppliers may need automated voice response and document access to traverse the corporate environment while customers may demand conferencing technologies to speak with multiple service and sales departments. By aligning company workflows to communications technologies, unified communications can be sculpted from a vague amorphous concept to a targeted business enabler.”

There’s lots of ways to nurture use. Stan Gibson, principal with Stan Gibson Communications, in a contributed article to CIO magazine suggests: "How about incentive rewards for IT staffers who come up with ideas like questioning the mobile capabilities of legacy applications; for measuring user behavior; for increasing data access; or for augmenting email with collaboration tools?" he asked.

leading from the front

Every analysts seems to agree that senior management must be seen leading from the front on UC deployments.

The potential benefits are huge. Essex County Council, which enabled mobile and flexible working for all the 12,000 staff has seen a reduction in ICT costs by 30% and improved KPIs by 25% across the board.

Of course the best gains come when employees are enthusiastic about the UC system. If users don’t like what they are given they will simply try to use alternative solutions for the task and your deployment will fail.

staying secure

Security problems also require education. An IBM study shows 40 percent of large companies are not taking the correct precautions to secure the mobile apps they build for customers, and that organizations are poorly protecting their mobile devices against cyber-attacks.

Employees are usually security’s missing link. Common activities such as using third party app stores, use of “jailbroken” devices and tardiness in the installation of new security updates are all employee behaviors that may threaten security. That’s why development of clear and understandable security policy is so important as a component to UC deployments.

A recently revealed Ponemon Institute study found that while most employees are “heavy users of apps,” over half (55 percent) state their organization does not have a policy which defines the acceptable use of mobile apps in the workplace. In addition a large majority (67 percent) of companies allow employees to download non-vetted apps to their work devices.

According to DataMotion's third annual survey on corporate email and transfer habits one-third of companies said employees don't fully understand their security policies.

Just as with UC adoption, better security demands end users are educated and encouraged to follow new practices.

Knowledge is power. "It's important to note that, while enterprise IT needs to be aware of the security concerns …. most can be rectified through end-user training and common sense," says Andrew Froehlich of West Gate Networks.

 

Please take a look at how Orange Business can help your business boost collaboration with unified communications. And find out about getting your business lync’d up with managed Lync.

Jon Evans

Jon Evans is highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men’s interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.