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Motivating UC Users

I recently gave a presentation to a user group about unified communications, and I was asked the following intriguing question: Here are some tips for getting users on board.First, you need a sponsorship team and a project sponsor at the earliest phase of your UC journey. The sponsorship team should include line of business owners, IT and telecom managers and a sampling of end users, from the administrative staff to CXOs. End users, especially business managers who understand where communications bottlenecks and breakdowns exist, need to be an integral part of the UC planning process -- the earlier they can be brought into the planning process, the better.

The sponsor is key, and by identifying the best uses and users of UC, the sponsor can encourage proper usage of the solution, leading to better results. It's vital to have a project "champion" - someone who internally promotes usage of the UC solution. This sponsor should help choose the initial applications and business processes for UC, as well as the users to be involved in the initial deployment. The sponsor should be a line of business leader, to ensure that UC will be adopted in modes that work for the business operations.

Next, it's important to get buy-in from the top - if C-level and other executives use the UC capabilities, others in the organization are more likely to as well. These executives can set an example and drive adoption for the rest of the organization.

Get people excited about UC, and Dimension Data provides a great example. The company initiated a fun, online animated campaign aimed at getting its employees curious and excited about their internal UC deployment. The animation included hints about the upcoming UC rollout, such as "Looking for a convenient place to strategize with your coworkers, look no further than UC," concluding with "Look for more information next week when the journey continues..."

Dimension Data followed up that campaign with online end-user training delivered to every worker on how to use UC capabilities and functionality. Not only was the uptake of UC extremely high, the end users knew what they were doing and why they were doing it.

This Dimension Data example highlights the most important issue - training end users. A colleague and I did a "before and after" survey of end users at a large company that had implemented UC. The results were significant but not surprising: Training sparked usage, and usage produced benefits. About 60% of the end users increased their usage of checking presence status before calling someone from "often" to "always," and the training taught them about new capabilities that hadn't known existed on the system.

Start with pilots to get user feedback for improvements. Virtually every company that has implemented UC has found that user uptake is often viral. Once people see their colleagues or counterparts in other departments using UC, they want to find out more about it. And the more people in your organization using UC, the more useful it becomes - the more people to collaborate with, share presence status, etc.

To sum up, in order to motivate end users to use their UC capabilities, begin the process with a sponsorship team and head cheerleader, get your CXOs to set an example, get users throughout the organization excited about UC, and provide the training necessary to encourage proper usage of the solution. Enjoy the journey.