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End User Summit: UC&C 'Mystique' Gone, On to Its Use

These are heady days for those working with communications and collaboration technologies, with jazzy all-encompassing tools that boost the user experience from the desktop to the conference room -- and anywhere in between.

In fact, UC&C is becoming so pervasive and such a given that users have begun to think about it as a utility. "They expect that they should be able to collaborate and communicate. The mystique is removed," said Cris Downey, director of the Collaboration and Communication Center of Practice at AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical spin-off from Abbott Laboratories.

Downey shared his thoughts on the new model of enterprise communications and collaboration along with a handful of other IT executives during this morning's End User Summit at Enterprise Connect 2015 in Orlando. Here are a few quick takeaways from the discussion.

Mobility really does come first, at least at AbbVie. The first question his team must ask about any new business initiative is how mobility fits in, Downey said. He thinks about it this way, he said: If somebody loses access to Outlook on the desktop, he gets irritated but will continue on. "But when people lose access to Outlook on one of these," he said waving around his mobile device, "they lose their minds."

Bob Galovic, Marriott

The days of the data center as the center of the IT universe are over, says Bob Galovic, vice president, IT Delivery Network Services, Marriott International. The ability to serve guests in 80 countries globally means bringing the technology to them, and that can't be done when it's all sitting in some Marriott data center. To be successful going forward, Galovic said, Marriott is shifting from having a North American focus that it drives globally, to be being globally focused and driving the technology to its associates and guests. "That changes how we look at everything," he added.

Darrius Jones, USAA

Flip your 80-20 rule for best success in today's highly collaborative, mobility-enabled work environment. At banking and insurance company USAA, the traditional IT-business model saw 80% effort going into delivery and deployment and only 20% of time spent on leveraging the product. "We're trying to invert that," said Darrius Jones, the company's executive director for emerging technologies. "We want to be spending 80% of our time leveraging the product and 20% delivering it."

Don't just innovate -- diffuse your innovation. That strategy is paying off at the YMCA of Greater Louisville, said Ryan Kingery, vice president of knowledge management and IT, Association Services Office. Letting people know as soon as possible that something is going to change for them promotes use, he said.

Sometimes hard costs matter and other times not, depending on organizational requirements. As a government entity, hard-dollar total cost of ownership very much matters to IT decision-makers in Palm Beach County here in Florida, said Steve Bordelon, IS services director. "We're not interested in looking at soft costs" -- which he said the county certainly didn't need to do when considering whether to converge its voice and data networks on its fiber backbone. By disconnecting voice circuits, the county saves $2 million annually, he said.

Galovic, which is overseeing a transition to the cloud, agreed that "there is certainly a cost element -- it's critical," he said. "That's how we stay in business."

However, Marriott is keen to find a balance between keeping costs manageable and giving associates the tools they need, he added.

Along those lines, at USAA a hybrid IT-business group "looks at the experience," Jones said. More important than dollars spent is the cost of lost opportunity -- hard to measure, but imperative to factor in to technology decision-making.

Clearly enterprise IT executives are of like minds on some UC&C issues and of differing opinions on others. But that's OK. The point is, they're thinking about it -- and that's what really matters.

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