The Second Big Myth: One Tool Can Do All
If the first myth of UC is that one tool should be used universally within an organization, the second myth is that one tool is appropriate for all forms of communications and collaboration. Many UC vendors hope to convince buyers not only to use just one UC tool, but also that their tool is the only app users will need for everything. Yes, indeed, it’s the best thing for every one of those 18 communications and collaboration functions!
Only it isn’t; the list is too diverse, there are too many competitors with various strengths, and many point solutions work far better than the Swiss Army knife approach. Users don’t want or need 18 different tools, but the push to unify every related communications and collaboration task typically leads to user interface complexity and solutions that lack key features.
Indeed, a best-of-breed approach offers some advantages, not the least of which is simplicity. A desk phone, a softphone, and a cell phone are all very easy to use to make a call; do we need to force users to a UC app just because it can also make calls? And what happens when we need a telephone feature that isn’t available on the UC app?
At Enterprise Connect, attendees saw a variety of special conference room solutions focused on delivering highly optimized meeting experiences. Should an organization shun those simply because they’re not part of a single common user tool for all forms of communications? Of course, a UC vendor that also sells conference room technology will tell you it’s great, providing both choices are for its products.
In another recent No Jitter post
, UC analyst Blair Pleasant, of COMMfusion, emphasized ease of use as the key to UC&C adoption: Users want a simple, intuitive, and engaging experience. In many cases, the best way to meet that goal is to use the best tool for the specific need instead of one tool for every task.
The Big Question: Why?
The two myths are obviously related: The main reason that one tool doesn’t fit every user or business need is most often because no one tool is the best choice for every UC feature. Thus, a question that often gets overlooked is: “Why?” As in, “Why is it such an imperative that we stuff all of an organization’s and its users’ communications needs into a single tool? Do we really need to unify all communications and collaboration under one software application?”
The short answer is “No.” If we decide we must find a single solution to meet every need it’s a given that many needs will be underserved or unmet. Without inter-application integration standards, the user experience will continue to be dissimilar (and disjointed) whenever engaging with users of a different UC tool. So maybe for now we should stop chasing the unicorn and acknowledge the reality. Keep it simple whenever possible and apply UC and non-UC tools to the proper situations while understanding the limitations.
Simmons is sharing his perspective as a member 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.