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Success With Skype: 4 Steps & 4 Challenges

On Wednesday, July 29, I am privileged to be presenting during a free Enterprise Connect/No Jitter webinar, "4 Steps to a Successful Skype for Business Implementation" (register now and join in tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. ET).

Even with the tremendous and growing success of Microsoft Lync and now Skype for Business, organizations still need to overcome many obstacles and challenges in order to achieve measurable business benefits from unified communications in general and the Microsoft UC platform in particular. I am truly excited about the content that myself and Tim Harrington, principal Skype architect with ConnectSolutions, and Christopher Martini, vice president, ConnectSolutions, will be presenting, aimed as it is at helping organizations get over those implementation hurdles.

During the webinar, much of the focus will be on the right steps that will help you succeed. In advance of the webinar, I wanted to take a look at some of the common challenges:

1. Overwhelming Choice
Given no choice, we feel trapped. Given several choices, we feel empowered. Given a multitude of choice, we may very well feel overwhelmed.

Once you get past the decision of which among the many vendors to select as your primary voice and UC provider and have landed on Microsoft, you will face key choices to make.

Microsoft has worked hard to provide organizations with an ever-increasing number of deployment options for Skype for Business:

When that is decided, then you have still more options and choices:

Often this abundance of choice leads to...

2. Analysis Paralysis
Planning and assessing are important precursors to effective action. And yet, for some organizations planning simply begets more planning. Assessing leads to further assessment. They have been stricken by the "analysis paralysis" disease.

This affliction can sometimes be insidious and difficult to detect because work is clearly being undertaken. There are meetings, often lots of meetings, minutes, sessions, sometimes reports. People are busy; people are engaged -- and yet, after months, sadly sometimes years, of time passing, nothing has changed.

No business benefits will be achieved through planning a UC implementation. At some point you need to move forward and take steps toward your decided destination. The Chinese philosopher Laozi said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. However, some organizations seem so worried about taking a first step in the wrong direction that they simply stand in one spot constantly looking around.

Often analysis paralysis can develop quickly in an environment where...

3. Opinions Trump Facts
The answer is, "Yes, definitely yes!" The question is, "Can Lync / Skype for Business truly replace my PBX?" I personally have led transitions that have displaced 53 PBXs in the past 24 months. Many others have had similar successes.

The more important and complicated question is, "Is Lync/Skype for Business the right voice system for my organization?" To answer this question you need to do the work. You need to document and prioritize your specific business requirements, understand your existing infrastructure, develop a valid business case, and evaluate fairly and impartially the pros and cons of several viable options.

Sorting through numerous choices, coming to a valid and rationale conclusion is often stymied by...

4. Inadequate Focus
Research from Stanford University clearly indicates that multitasking, jumping from one focus to another, makes it difficult to filter out what is not relevant to your current goal. Perhaps because deciding on a UC solution necessitates investigating multiple areas simultaneously (voice, IM, video, mobility, etc.) it more often leads to a team that has a tough time staying focused.

Perhaps organizations underestimate the time and effort required to properly evaluate, define, and document a strategic UC and collaboration direction. And then team members, with all the other demands placed on them, are simply unable to focus.

Whatever the reason for lack of focus, without an experienced multi-disciplinary team putting in sufficient effort you may find yourself with no clear decision or the wrong decision.

Many organizations face these four challenges when trying to move ahead with Lync or Skype for Business. Given that some people refer to Wednesday as "hump day," as it is the midpoint of the typical working week, it seems to me the perfect day to spend some time learning about the four steps that can help you rise about these challenges. Please join me tomorrow, July 29, at 2:00 p.m. ET for the webinar, "4 Steps to a Successful Skype for Business Implementation."

Beyond Wednesday, if you are near San Francisco, Orange County, New York, or Chicago please register to join me when I keynote and moderate the upcoming Enterprise Connect Tour: Implementing Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business in Your Enterprise. This free all-day event brings together a powerful collection of experts to assist you on your Lync and Skype for Business journey. Register now for a city near you!

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