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Counterpoint: Market Frustration Caused by Confusion

In a recent post, Fred Knight argues that customers are not so much confused as they are frustrated: "What I hear from customers isn't confusion, it's frustration". Further, he suggests that this frustration stems from solutions that don’t deliver promised benefits and from difficulties interconnecting and managing the communication and collaboration solutions.

I don't buy it.

I'm not suggesting there is a lack of frustration; however, I would argue that this frustration comes from confusion. And to a large degree, the frustration customers may feel can be eliminated or significantly reduced by reducing the confusion. Reducing confusion requires customers to educate themselves related to potential solutions. In The Goldilocks Approach: 7 Steps to Get to "Just Right," I outline a detailed process of identifying requirements and then matching requirements with potential solutions. This approach is really about reducing confusion and thus frustration.

I agree with Fred that customers may know what they want; but wanting a solution to work in ways it does not, I would suggest, is confusion. Fred writes that customers are frustrated "over the level of integration needed for new systems to interwork with existing systems". You say frustrated; I say confused. Integration between systems is difficult. I write about some of the pain multi-vendor integrations cause in Nest-of-Breed. Multi-vendor integrations, including the one between Microsoft and the newly acquired Cisco company Versly, will always be more troublesome and frustrating than native integrations. There should be no confusion on this point.

On a weekly basis I see frustration born of confusion related to remote call control (RCC) and desktop integration. Most often customers have Microsoft Office, Outlook and Office Communicator or Lync on the desktop and they, in a confused state, believe integrating this environment using RCC to Avaya or Cisco or Mitel or others will provide them with all the simplicity of a native complete UC solution. This leads to frustration. No multi-vendor RCC solution for UC is as supportable, manageable or provides the same user experience as a single vendor UC solution. There should be no confusion on this point.

Unified Communications by definition is about combining multiple things. Sometimes customers are frustrated because this is hard. Sometimes customers are frustrated when a multi-vendor integration does not work how they would like or how they imagined it. I believe education and research can eliminate much of the frustration customers experience by reducing the confusion related to considered solution alternatives. As Fred writes, "The fact that these are all intertwined and, to some extent, interdependent, makes the planning process much more complex."

Find someone you trust. Document your requirements. Compare the pros and cons of various solution options. Pilot the solution for technical fit and user adoption. And then enjoy a reduced level of frustration.