Marty Parker
Marty Parker brings over three decades of experience in both computing solutions and communications technology. Marty has been a...
Read Full Bio >>

Marty Parker | September 13, 2016 |


Usage Profiles Key to UC Success

Usage Profiles Key to UC Success Determining individual user requirements for UC features and functionality may seem like an impossible task, but it need not be.

Determining individual user requirements for UC features and functionality may seem like an impossible task, but it need not be.

We've come a long way from the "station surveys" days when we went around an office or company to determine who needed multibutton phone sets and how many buttons would be needed for lines, speed dial numbers, and features. Smarter phones, software clients, and online directories have changed all that.

But now, with UC, we have a much bigger challenge. We need to determine how individuals are using communications as part of their departmental and organizational workflows. Increasingly, this starts with the software applications that the individuals use for sales, service, production, logistics, development, marketing, administration, and other departmental activities. In many cases, we find that the software applications are doing a lot of the work that used to require a phone call or an email message. In some cases, we find that this work has shifted to a mobile device that is far removed from the nearest desk phone, so communication must be software-driven.

Determination of individual user requirements may seem like an impossible task, but it need not be. In 10 years of consulting practice, UniComm Consulting has identified eight (yes, only eight) usage profiles that define communication requirements in the different parts of all types of enterprises. In addition, we use one more -- a foundational usage profile -- to represent commonly shared communications functions across the organization. The proportion of these usage profiles in an organization varies by vertical industry, but these eight usage profiles can guide your UC planning in almost all cases.

A usage profile is: "a summary of the communications patterns and technology requirements for a group of users who work in similar business processes and have similar communication technology needs." Thus each usage profile has a different technology footprint that matches the type of work in that usage profile. A few usage profiles are still very telephony-centric, requiring advanced PBX features. Most usage profiles require only basic telephony functions and several usage profiles can be supported entirely on a mobile device.

Here are brief bullet-list descriptions of the usage profiles. I will post a detailed description of each usage profile at in September and October, leading up to a usage profile session at the BC Summit in early November.

Collaboration (On-Premises Mobile):

  • Mostly creative document preparation and project-centric teamwork
  • Interaction with external people for research input
  • Interaction with contractors for project work, creative elements
  • May have project workspace (SharePoint, SaaS providers, Agile tools, etc.)
  • One-to-one and ad hoc team meetings to share and co-edit ideas, drafts, etc.
  • Metrics include speed to completion, quality, results produced
  • Prefer no travel (time, cost, team presence), but expect same work access (Wi-Fi, 4G, or home network) when need mobility
  • Expect mobility on site via Wi-Fi

Field Sales, Services, et al. (Cell & Wi-Fi Mobile):

  • Primarily outside office or organizational location
  • Interaction with customers, clients, accounts, etc.
  • Working from specific software package (CRM, ERP, tickets, logistics)
  • Working from mobile devices: smartphone, tablet, purpose-built
  • Can click-to-communicate from software apps on mobile devices
  • Expect seamless communication anywhere -- field or office
  • Need to stay in touch with back-office teams, resources, experts for exceptions, approvals, information
  • High-ticket sales reps and some professional services may also use collaborative tools
  • Metrics are ratios: revenue/headcount, tickets, or routes/headcount

Contact Center (Desk-Based):

  • Representatives (agents) serving queues of customer requests
  • Primarily voice calls with some shifting to multiple media, multichannel
  • Chat, social, video emerging in other departments (marketing, service)
  • Queues managed by advanced contact center software
  • Some use of outbound call centers for marketing, inside sales, etc.
  • Workflow often managed by software applications (CRM, ERP, etc.)
  • Metrics via monitoring packages for supervisors
  • Often using ancillary tools (IVR, recording, quality, monitoring, etc.)
  • Agents usually are non-exempt employees, temps, contractors
  • Almost always working from a wired desk, whether office or home

Retail (On-Premises, Mobile):

  • Primary job is serving consumer customers on-premises
  • Maintains store/restaurant appearance (stock, tables, etc.)
  • Fast, accurate order entry
  • Most use stock system, restaurant system, etc. for orders and for back-office access
  • Some use mobile data devices (emerging) for service, orders, etc.
  • Most are non-exempt workers; some temps or commission-based
  • General use, shared phone/PC for contact with other locations, stock room, etc.
  • Employee communications (HR, training, etc.) in back-office area

Processing (Desk-Based):

  • Operational role to process transactions for core business
  • Works with defined workflows (CRM, ERP, orders, non-call center help desks, scheduling, logistics, purchasing, et al.)
  • Workflows may have automation for exceptions, communications steps
  • Transactions via automated systems or customer email and/or Web portal requests
  • Customer or supplier contacts mostly via email or postal mail (exceptions referred to account rep, call center)
  • Most are non-exempt workers at desk (office, home, off-shore)

Production (On-Premises, Mobile):

  • Stream of activities to produce organization's products or services
  • Many roles have physical aspect (assembly, stock handling, etc.)
  • Few have an assigned desk; most are mobile within premises; some also mobile in a territory
  • Most are connected to a software app (ERP, workflow, warehouse, fleet, routes, etc.) to coordinate and report on work
  • Most are non-exempt employees, temps, or contractors

Administration (Desk and On-Premises Mobile):

  • Organizational and functional support
  • Often support other roles (managers, execs, key staff)
  • Complex, often unstructured, communication tasks
  • Often responsible for sustaining various services (HR, finance, legal, facilities)
  • Some are responsible for executing on policies, laws, etc.

Executives & Senior Management (Desk Plus Mobile On-Premises and Field):

  • Management above supervisory level, especially executives
  • Reviewing and directing work of others, not "doing" work
  • Significant time in horizontal and upward/outward communication
  • Significant time in review sessions from subordinate levels
  • Review and analysis of large volumes of information for decisions
  • Expect "white glove" treatment because of complex and important job, without burden of technical details (though executives will bring "shiny objects" into the workplace)
  • Often involved in external activities for company or community interactions

Shared communication tools across all usage profiles:

  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Presence
  • Dial tone (one or more of: PBX, UC, or cellular)
  • Public area or shared voice phones
  • Shared computer terminals or tablets for email, portals, etc. (especially for retail, production, field)
  • Meeting rooms -- audio, audio/sharing, video
  • Online conferencing -- audio, audio/sharing, video
  • Training facilities (rooms or computers)
  • Digital media and video/training-on-demand
  • Convergence and enrichment of above on tablets/smartphones
  • Community or enterprise-social spaces

These usage profiles do not look like a PBX feature list. Rather, usage profiles describe communications requirements. Enterprise planners and IT/UC service managers can use these requirements to select or configure various UC solution elements to optimize their organization's performance while minimizing costs, duplication or over-provisioning. It should also be clear that it is quite possible, even preferable, to deploy UC on a usage profile basis in a series of stages known as a UC roadmap. Such progressive deployments will deliver greater benefits more quickly and with less risk.

We trust you will find these usage profiles helpful in your organization.


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.