Leveraging Unified Communications with a Purpose
The challenge is in how a company or organization applies UC to leverage the benefits.
As the traditional TDM PBX systems reach end of life, companies must move to VoIP. Today, the VoIP system is the core for the unified communications system. The impact of the transition to unified communications (UC) in a high percentage of companies and organizations is minimal. Yet, UC capabilities are not being leveraged to help people do their job better and more efficiently.
Why is UC not being leveraged in organizations today? Well, here are some typical reasons:
- People do not like change, so the installation of a new phone system, for example, is a disruption, all employees want to do is be able to use it in the same way they have done before.
- There is no focus on identifying the UC capabilities for the individual, business unit or department.
- There is no change management to help staff use and apply UC capabilities.
- End user training by the vendor is generic, and typically only given when the system is initially installed, rather than provided on an on-going basis.
- Traditionally, when a new PBX was implemented, the vendor met with the individual departments to identify specific features that should be applied to the programmable keys. Today, specific groups of features are selected and all the phones are programmed the same way.
The equipment vendor's focus is to install the system and provide training as efficiently as possible. The IT group's focus is to have the system up and running without any problems, and once complete, they usually move on to the next project. There is no one person in a traditional company who is focused on helping users better understand how to leverage the technology in the workplace.
IT departments do not understand UC functionality and when the system is installed, their focus, in conjunction with the vendor, is to get the system up and working. This results in the UC system being used just like the traditional PBX that it replaced.
To leverage the full capabilities, focus needs to be put on identifying potential business UC application(s) and benefits. This should be done by a work group or department. Once identified, then the hard part is getting people to adopt and change.
The challenge is how does a company or organization apply UC to leverage the benefits? This becomes even more important with the new generation of applications integrating workflow to provide additional business benefits. There are a number of directions that can be taken. Some organizations have a technology liaison position that takes the role of a liaison between IT and the business. If there is a technology liaison person, then UC should be added as his or her responsibility. If the liaison position does not exist, there are four other options: the VAR, IT, HR or a third-party resource.
Traditionally, VARs have not provided this service; however, this can be added to the initial scope of work. It would allow the VAR to expand its services, even though this is not a typical skillset for them.
IT could provide this service function, but this department is typically understaffed. And even if they were able to serve in this role, they still have a skillset issue as well as the issue of a gap between IT and line of business operations.
Human Resources would normally provide some training, but this department does not have the technical expertise to apply the UC functionality to the business.
Using a third party to provide these services would provide a kick-start to UC usage; however, part of the role should be to set up a process within a company to allow the functionality to be applied on an ongoing basis.
For unified communications to be successful, the industry not only needs to identify benefits and capabilities, but it also should show businesses what is required to optimally leverage technology.
"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.