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Usage Profiles Key to UC Success

We've come a long way from the "station surveys" days when we went around an office or company to determine who needed multibutton phone sets and how many buttons would be needed for lines, speed dial numbers, and features. Smarter phones, software clients, and online directories have changed all that.

But now, with UC, we have a much bigger challenge. We need to determine how individuals are using communications as part of their departmental and organizational workflows. Increasingly, this starts with the software applications that the individuals use for sales, service, production, logistics, development, marketing, administration, and other departmental activities. In many cases, we find that the software applications are doing a lot of the work that used to require a phone call or an email message. In some cases, we find that this work has shifted to a mobile device that is far removed from the nearest desk phone, so communication must be software-driven.

Determination of individual user requirements may seem like an impossible task, but it need not be. In 10 years of consulting practice, UniComm Consulting has identified eight (yes, only eight) usage profiles that define communication requirements in the different parts of all types of enterprises. In addition, we use one more -- a foundational usage profile -- to represent commonly shared communications functions across the organization. The proportion of these usage profiles in an organization varies by vertical industry, but these eight usage profiles can guide your UC planning in almost all cases.

A usage profile is: "a summary of the communications patterns and technology requirements for a group of users who work in similar business processes and have similar communication technology needs." Thus each usage profile has a different technology footprint that matches the type of work in that usage profile. A few usage profiles are still very telephony-centric, requiring advanced PBX features. Most usage profiles require only basic telephony functions and several usage profiles can be supported entirely on a mobile device.

Here are brief bullet-list descriptions of the usage profiles. I will post a detailed description of each usage profile at in September and October, leading up to a usage profile session at the BC Summit in early November.

Collaboration (On-Premises Mobile):

  • Mostly creative document preparation and project-centric teamwork
  • Interaction with external people for research input
  • Interaction with contractors for project work, creative elements
  • May have project workspace (SharePoint, SaaS providers, Agile tools, etc.)
  • One-to-one and ad hoc team meetings to share and co-edit ideas, drafts, etc.
  • Metrics include speed to completion, quality, results produced
  • Prefer no travel (time, cost, team presence), but expect same work access (Wi-Fi, 4G, or home network) when need mobility
  • Expect mobility on site via Wi-Fi

Field Sales, Services, et al. (Cell & Wi-Fi Mobile):

  • Primarily outside office or organizational location
  • Interaction with customers, clients, accounts, etc.
  • Working from specific software package (CRM, ERP, tickets, logistics)
  • Working from mobile devices: smartphone, tablet, purpose-built
  • Can click-to-communicate from software apps on mobile devices
  • Expect seamless communication anywhere -- field or office
  • Need to stay in touch with back-office teams, resources, experts for exceptions, approvals, information
  • High-ticket sales reps and some professional services may also use collaborative tools
  • Metrics are ratios: revenue/headcount, tickets, or routes/headcount

Contact Center (Desk-Based):

  • Representatives (agents) serving queues of customer requests
  • Primarily voice calls with some shifting to multiple media, multichannel
  • Chat, social, video emerging in other departments (marketing, service)
  • Queues managed by advanced contact center software
  • Some use of outbound call centers for marketing, inside sales, etc.
  • Workflow often managed by software applications (CRM, ERP, etc.)
  • Metrics via monitoring packages for supervisors
  • Often using ancillary tools (IVR, recording, quality, monitoring, etc.)
  • Agents usually are non-exempt employees, temps, contractors
  • Almost always working from a wired desk, whether office or home

Retail (On-Premises, Mobile):

  • Primary job is serving consumer customers on-premises
  • Maintains store/restaurant appearance (stock, tables, etc.)
  • Fast, accurate order entry
  • Most use stock system, restaurant system, etc. for orders and for back-office access
  • Some use mobile data devices (emerging) for service, orders, etc.
  • Most are non-exempt workers; some temps or commission-based
  • General use, shared phone/PC for contact with other locations, stock room, etc.
  • Employee communications (HR, training, etc.) in back-office area

Processing (Desk-Based):

  • Operational role to process transactions for core business
  • Works with defined workflows (CRM, ERP, orders, non-call center help desks, scheduling, logistics, purchasing, et al.)
  • Workflows may have automation for exceptions, communications steps
  • Transactions via automated systems or customer email and/or Web portal requests
  • Customer or supplier contacts mostly via email or postal mail (exceptions referred to account rep, call center)
  • Most are non-exempt workers at desk (office, home, off-shore)

Production (On-Premises, Mobile):

  • Stream of activities to produce organization's products or services
  • Many roles have physical aspect (assembly, stock handling, etc.)
  • Few have an assigned desk; most are mobile within premises; some also mobile in a territory
  • Most are connected to a software app (ERP, workflow, warehouse, fleet, routes, etc.) to coordinate and report on work
  • Most are non-exempt employees, temps, or contractors

Administration (Desk and On-Premises Mobile):

  • Organizational and functional support
  • Often support other roles (managers, execs, key staff)
  • Complex, often unstructured, communication tasks
  • Often responsible for sustaining various services (HR, finance, legal, facilities)
  • Some are responsible for executing on policies, laws, etc.

Executives & Senior Management (Desk Plus Mobile On-Premises and Field):

  • Management above supervisory level, especially executives
  • Reviewing and directing work of others, not "doing" work
  • Significant time in horizontal and upward/outward communication
  • Significant time in review sessions from subordinate levels
  • Review and analysis of large volumes of information for decisions
  • Expect "white glove" treatment because of complex and important job, without burden of technical details (though executives will bring "shiny objects" into the workplace)
  • Often involved in external activities for company or community interactions

Shared communication tools across all usage profiles:

These usage profiles do not look like a PBX feature list. Rather, usage profiles describe communications requirements. Enterprise planners and IT/UC service managers can use these requirements to select or configure various UC solution elements to optimize their organization's performance while minimizing costs, duplication or over-provisioning. It should also be clear that it is quite possible, even preferable, to deploy UC on a usage profile basis in a series of stages known as a UC roadmap. Such progressive deployments will deliver greater benefits more quickly and with less risk.

We trust you will find these usage profiles helpful in your organization.