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Finding the Path to UC Enlightenment

I’ve been in the unified communications game for a long time, working with some of the biggest vendors in the field. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. With help from some of my esteemed colleagues, I’ve pulled together the following advice for how organizations deploying UC can get the most from their systems and reach what I like to call “UC nirvana.”

Be Proactive, Not Reactive
One of the real keys to UC nirvana is the ability to identify problems before your users and customers notice them. Are you identifying issues only after users complain about them? If so, you’re stuck in firefighting mode, running from one problem to the next. Obviously, you want to be proactive instead. You want to solve problems before they negatively impact customers and users.

The first step to UC nirvana is to simplify complexity. You can do this by giving people who aren’t necessarily experts the tools they need to quickly make sense of their UC environments and identify and address UC issues more effectively. For example, think about investing in an internal knowledge base that provides step-by-step instructions for your end users so they can resolve common problems themselves, without having to ask for assistance from a UC administrator in the middle of the night.

Tell a Story With Your Reports
Most UC administrators don’t have distinct metrics around their UC pain points. Instead, they have anecdotes and horror stories about getting screamed at by this or that executive who just had a terrible video-conferencing experience. The problem is, it’s hard to wrap real metrics around anecdotes.

Most UC teams go through the motions of producing reports and pasting them into a presentation for quarterly management meetings. But often no one really pays attention to the data in those reports. Instead, organizations should be using their reports to tell a real story about the business. It could be a story about increased usage. Or about identifying trouble spots and actually doing something about them.

For instance, a particular report could reveal that some employees are using devices that aren’t optimized for UC. If it’s just a one-time event, that’s probably OK. But if a group of users are repeatedly using non-optimized devices for UC, then a manager needs to step up and address the issue with them, because those users have a bad habit that needs to be corrected.

Don’t produce reports just for the sake of producing reports. Create reports that tell a story and enable you to take concrete actions that can fundamentally improve your business.

Use Analytics to Solve Problems
The beauty of analytics is that they allow your organization to discover the root cause of a problem by correlating various data sets and identifying what triggered the problem in the first place. The right data analytics tools can provide accurate and immediate information about where potential problems reside and how to address them.

Let’s say your company has two main offices: London and Manhattan. And let’s say you’re experiencing glitches that are hampering phone and video communications between the two locations. Analytics can quickly help figure out if this is a server, a network, or an endpoint issue… or something else entirely. With the end-to-end insights provided by proper analytics, you can get to the heart of the problem and quickly resolve it.

Stay on Top of Alerts
Most companies, once they turn on their UC alerts, don’t realize how noisy those alerts can get. So they end up ignoring almost all of them. Indeed, in my experience most alerts go unattended and unaddressed. But why are you even bothering to get those alerts if you’re not going to respond to them?

I would challenge companies to schedule periodic audits of their alerts, to pick through them and figure out which are the most important and what to do about them. Some alerts may only affect one or two users but others could actually be signaling productivity issues for the majority of your employees. If that’s the case, you need to jump on those alerts and take immediate action.

Embrace Automation

Few companies reach the final stage of UC nirvana, which is automation. In UC, automation is truly the path to enlightenment because it enables your environment to remediate and heal any problems without any human intervention.

Automation can help predict a business disruption before it happens and resolve the problem --well before it impacts users and customers. With automation, you’re no longer on your back foot, fighting fire after fire. Instead, you’re proactively moving your business forward. And the more automation you apply, the more you can streamline the various costs related to managing a UC environment.

The path to UC nirvana is paved with many obstacles. But once you reach your final destination, you’ll achieve a more enjoyable technology experience that enables you to increase productivity, boost your bottom line, and transform your business.