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UC&C Tools: What Do Users Want?
"The more ways we have to collaborate, the more confusing things become," said Robin Gareiss, president and founder of Nemertes Research, during a recent No Jitter/Enterprise Connect webinar on using collaboration and communications tools to drive business success.
A lot of companies are still using email first and foremost, Robin said. While use of social tools is exploding in the enterprise, she added, that's happening largely in siloes, as different departments adopt disparate tools with little attempt at integration. Integration remains a challenge for a lot of companies when it comes to UC deployments as well, with different tools in use depending on communications function. This is one of the reasons we see a lot of companies moving to the cloud, Robin said.
What's more, mobility is no longer a secondary consideration, she said; in fact, some would argue that it's now the most important communications element. As the younger generation continues to enter the workforce, mobility continues to move front and center, with texting becoming a viable alternative to enterprise UC platforms, Robin said.
"Then of course you've got the whole area of consumer applications, and these app stores basically deliver business apps, or frankly, consumer apps, directly to the end users of the organization," she added.
This new workplace environment of user choice can often lead to UC&C deployments that don't provide tangible business benefits, Robin said. As IT grapples with the challenging task of keeping up with the proliferation of apps, it faces a potential loss of control as well as use of disjointed collaboration platforms.
To counter the negative effects of this new and evolving environment, Robin said the goal is to identify the collaboration tools and implementation approaches that lead to success as well as those that do not. This requires an assessment -- and regular re-assessment -- of emerging technologies such as video, mobile chat, text, secure document sharing, and enterprise social. Organizations should also analyze cloud-based services as a solution to boost agility and lower costs.
During the webinar (now available on demand), sponsor Interactive Intelligence highlighted the potential benefits of its PureCloud platform, which we covered earlier this month following a services announcement at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2015. One focus is on creating a more friendly user environment, which mirrors Nemertes benchmark data around UC&C tools that sums up how deployment models have shifted from being IT-driven to now user-driven. Robin shared this slide:
This new model is helping drive adoption of cloud services that support user-driven deployments, Robin said. "The longer that IT takes to roll out an application, the longer the testing takes, the more employees are going to take matters into their own hands. And this is one of the reasons we see a lot of organizations trying to simplify, and going to a cloud environment."
The Value of Personas
Of late I've heard a lot of people talk about this idea of evaluating personas when making communications deployment decisions. Robin echoed these sentiments in the webinar, discussing how essential it is to evaluate who needs what. Field workers have different needs than the sales department and executives, so organizing an employee base according to personas can be particularly beneficial when it comes to determining what sort of solutions to roll out. This enables decision-makers to map various applications to specific use cases.
She shared an example of how you could use personas to develop a chart that shows how vital various applications are to different personas.
Robin stressed the value of such approaches but cautioned webinar attendees not to overcomplicate the solution.
"Because as we know, the more you can keep things simple, straightforward, elegant, the more effective you are going to be," she said. "So while I believe that it's important to look at the use cases and to look at the personas, I also think it's important to weigh that with the solution that is going to get you the maximum of what you need without an incredible amount of complexity."
"The end game here is user satisfaction," Robin said, explaining that by keeping solutions simple, you reduce the time to roll out and get the appropriate tools into users' hands more quickly.
After user satisfaction, improved collaboration is the second factor for evaluating UC success. If you can hit both of those, you will have a fairly decent rollout, Robin said.
So what makes users satisfied? According to Robin, the key is to make things as close to what they're already using in their consumer lives. She noted a few precedents for this, including Skype, Yammer, and WebEx. Businesses should aim to deliver enterprise-grade collaboration apps that are as easy to download and use as consumer apps.
I think what all this data and insight ultimately boils down to is that we have entered into a new phase where much is centered on the user. (See UCC 2015: the Year of the User). This may mean that different delivery mechanisms like the cloud prove increasingly beneficial to enterprises trying to achieve user satisfaction with UC&C. Or, maybe it means that cloud eventually becomes the only way for organizations to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change that is propelling us forward. What do you think? How big do you think the cloud will get?