UC Training for End Users: It Matters
Training will increase the return on your investment and make your workers more productive.
Last week I was speaking with an IT manager about his company's usage of unified communications and the benefits UC produces. When I asked about specific capabilities, such as screen sharing and federation, he mentioned that he's the only person in the organization who uses these, because he hasn't trained the workers at the company on how to use these features.
This got me thinking: Should we have to train people on how to use a UC system, or should it be intuitive and simple enough to not require any training? We don't have training for our mobile phones or even tablets; they're generally intuitive enough to figure out on our own or, in the last resort, by reading the manual.
Think about using Facetime on an iPhone or Mac versus using a video system in an enterprise. The former is easy to figure out, but an enterprise video system is generally more complex and rarely obvious.
The fact is, UC is more complicated than most consumer-oriented tools, and it typically requires end-user training in how to use some of the more advanced features and functions. We can debate whether UC systems are too complex and whether vendors should simplify their solutions, but IMHO, the answer isn't to "dumb down" UC; instead, we need to make sure that training is a part of every deployment.
A couple years ago, a colleague and I conducted a study for a company that had deployed UC across its organization to determine the effectiveness of its UC training program. We spoke with end users at the company both before and after the training, as well as some workers who had not gone through the training. Most of those surveyed agreed that while the UC solution is intuitive enough to start using without training, those who went through the training, even if they had been using the system, found that their usage of UC capabilities increased. Those that had already been using UC found that the training showed them features and functions that they hadn't known about previously, and they began to use capabilities they were already familiar with more frequently.
All of the interviewees felt that the training was worthwhile. Even though most workers quickly figured out how to use presence and IM, click-to-call, and use other basic capabilities, many of them did not use the more advanced features prior to the training, such as teleworker, screen sharing, and more advanced collaboration and mobile capabilities.
Adoption, to a great extent, is driven by training. In any organization, there are technically-savvy people who "get it" but for the rest of us, end-user training is a key step in getting UC's advanced features and capabilities utilized. Not surprisingly, unless someone understands the value that UC brings, they're not as likely to integrate it into their daily routine.
This is especially true when integrating UC to business processes; and the end-user training needs to include both the "hows" and the "whys." Several of the study participants noted that they would welcome business productivity training, and that it would be better to have training that helped focus people on business productivity rather than just how to use a feature.
Bottom line: To get the most out of your UC system, integrate training into your implementation plan. Conduct the training before the deployment and on a periodic, ongoing basis. Training delivers a positive double-whammy: It will increase the return on your investment and make your workers more productive.