Blair Pleasant
Blair Pleasant is President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion LLC and a co-founder of UCStrategies. She provides consulting and market...
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Blair Pleasant | August 11, 2015 |


Training for UCC -- Is It Needed?

Training for UCC -- Is It Needed? The traditional way of working is long gone -- and training is needed to help users understand how UCC fits into that.

The traditional way of working is long gone -- and training is needed to help users understand how UCC fits into that.

I believe in the need for end user training when it comes to unified communications and collaboration solutions. There, I've said it. Hear me out before you start telling me that these solutions should be intuitive and not require any training.

I totally agree with Eric Krapf, who recently wrote, "User training doesn't just mean showing people all of the cool features and functionality of the Spark application or a similar such product. It means making people understand what their enterprise tools of choice do, and how their performance will affect their work lives. I don't think that's the kind of thing people are ever likely to be able to just discover on their own. Training isn't just about the how; it's about the why."

As I pointed out in a comment to that article, it's important for organizations to focus on some of the cultural changes that UCC brings to organizations. UCC isn't just about technology -- it's a new way of working for most people. If people see the value that UCC brings, they're more likely to use the tools, and companies get more value from their investment.

Today's workplace and tools are vastly different from what many of us are used to; it's not just about new technologies. Unify and others use the phrase "new way to work" to describe the modern workplace. The traditional way of working is long gone: we text, we tweet, we meet. We're mobile, collaborative, virtual, and social. This involves not just new tools and technologies, but new ways of viewing how work gets done, how problems are solved, how decisions are made, how customers are serviced, and so on.

In response to an article I wrote about the importance of training a few months back, an "Anonymous" commenter said, "Sorry I don't buy that training is required. If we need to teach people...point, click, type and identify what people should do when they see a color there are bigger issues."

Well, my response to that is yes and no. Yes, it shouldn't take training to learn how to use the basic capabilities of a UCC solution. Making calls, sending IMs, and setting your presence status should be obvious and intuitive. However, more advanced mobile and collaboration capabilities may take some training.

UCC solutions have a great number of features and capabilities, and most users only take advantage of the ones they use on a regular basis, and aren't even aware of some of the more sophisticated capabilities. Providing training on these capabilities after users have had a chance to get used to their new system or service would help people understand what these capabilities are, how to use them, and how to get the most out of them. It doesn't mean spending all day in a classroom -- online videos and tutorials may be sufficient for some, while others may prefer "lunch and learn" types of training.

Getting That Value

What's more important is helping businesses and individuals understand how to get the most value out of their UCC solutions. How do you become a collaborative organization? How do you make your sales people more effective? How do you enable your contact center agents to reach out to subject matter experts in their organization? These things aren't necessarily intuitive, and some guidance is required to help maximize the results. If people see the value in the tools they are provided, they're more likely to use them.

When we start getting into business process integration or embedding UCC capabilities into business applications, it can get even more complex. A tab may suddenly appear on someone's app that allows the user to make calls, initiate conferences, etc., but the user needs to understand how to use this capability and why it's beneficial to them.

Without training on how to use the new tools to change/optimize the business process, it will be totally random chance as to whether the user's or the team's or the business's performance improves. Most of the UCC vendors have done a good job lately of refining their user interfaces in order to improve the user experience. However, it's impossible for any vendor to produce an out-of-the-box interface, no matter how intuitive, that will apply to all types of jobs and roles -- some of which are collaborative, transactional, desk-based, mobile, application-based, document based, etc. This requires discovery and design (the customer's knowledge assisted by consultants and SIs) followed by the necessary training on how best to use the interface.

Many people are intimidated by the use of video and prefer to have audio-only calls rather than video conferences. Again, providing end-user training on what to expect from video conferencing capabilities, how to get the most out of them, and how they can help individuals and teams be more productive and effective will help increase the usage and adoption of these technologies.


It all comes down to user adoption. For collaboration to work, everyone on the team needs to be onboard utilizing the same technologies. If workers don't know how to use the UCC solutions properly, or understand why they should be using them, they'll simply use the old tools if they're still available, or they may bring in their own unsanctioned tools. This hinders the collaboration effort, making it harder to get work done.

In addition, I recommend companies provide workers with "best practices" guides -- not just how to use the solutions, but how to get the most out of them. Best practices can include things such as:

  • Respect someone's "Do Not Disturb" status
  • Send an IM before calling someone to see if they can take your call
  • Be professional and don't include anything in an IM that you wouldn't say out loud

To get the most value from their UCC investments, companies need to provide end-user training on what to expect from the new UCC solution, how to use the technology, and why these new tools will help them be more effective at doing their job.

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