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Looking for a Few Good Adopters

As a business owner or CIO, you've just gone through the RFP process, invested in a brand-spanking new UCC product or service, and rolled it out to your users. You can't wait to see them start taking/making calls on their softphone clients, collaborating in team spaces, setting up video conferences, and more. But wait, as you walk around the office you notice that they're still using the free version of Slack they'd previously brought in or the old consumer-based Webex conference service, and they're taking direct calls on their mobile devices rather than using the fancy UC client. What happened?


It's simple -- you didn't include a user adoption and training program as part of your overall UCC strategy.

"If you build it, they will come" may work for baseball fields, but not unified communications and collaboration systems. I've been writing about the need for businesses to deploy user adoption and training strategies for a while now, and I'm happy to see so many more vendors, consulting firms, and system integrators implementing programs to help customers on this path.

In many cases, businesses aren't getting the most of out of their UCC systems as users are reluctant to adopt the tools. Oftentimes the solutions are too complex and users don't understand how to use them properly, or the users simply don't want to make the change to a new system. Many users just rely on the most basic capabilities without taking advantage of some of the more advanced, but less intuitive, capabilities. The rise of "shadow IT" shows that some users may use applications and services that best meet their needs and are easy to use, rather than the ones that IT has deployed for the organization.

Lots of studies have shown the importance of and need for UCC user adoption and training programs. As Jabra noted in a UCC study, "companies faced challenges in getting employees to adopt UC technologies, including inadequate training, employee resistance to giving up established tools and ways of working and lack of integration with existing tools. Companies employed several strategies to overcome these challenges, including establishing a dedicated IT helpdesk, producing self-help literature and providing one-to-one or classroom training."

And in a study it conducted, Unify Square found that UC training options and/or opportunities are lacking, and that 28% of the IT professionals surveyed cited end-user adoption as one of the biggest challenges they face with corporate UC platforms. Nearly two-thirds -- 64% -- stated that adoption programs have either high or very high importance in ensuring UC ROI. End users also believe that user adoption is the biggest challenge, with over 25% of users acknowledging the importance of end-user training and believe it's the largest barrier to UC system adoption.

Fortunately, more and more organizations are including end user adoption and training as part of their UCC deployment strategies and have been seeing positive results. There are even companies that specialize in UCC adoption and training. For example, 1UC offers a "combination of consultancy, communications and training to ensure the technology is adopted, and the required new skills are embedded in the organization." According to Ashvini Webster, managing director of 1UC, the firm's methodology includes assessment, deliverables, and execution to help organizations get the most from their UCC investments.

Other companies focus on usage and adoption programs for Cisco technologies. One such company, Taleka, helps businesses get the most out of their Cisco communication, collaboration, and video investments. During a briefing, Taleka told me they consider themselves evangelists for end-user training, noting that "people only use 10 to 15% of the features available in UCC solutions."

System integrator TetraVX developed a user adoption program after it identified a gap between technology deployment and user adoption. During a briefing, the company explained that "when everything goes as planned, on budget, and on time, it's seen as a success for IT, but this doesn't necessarily translate to success to the end users. Users don't like change, and it's important not to pull off the Band-Aid with brute force." They added, "It's not about the technology but about what it will do to affect their workflow from Day 1." TetraVX works with customers to help them build out timelines and understand what to expect T minus 10, T minus 1, and so on. Part of this includes communication planning, including basic emails, infographics, and short video clips. By doing this, TetraVX "helps IT look like rock stars."

Many UCC vendors have embraced the importance of user adoption and have developed programs to address this, too. Unify has been a leader in this area and works with customers to develop pre- and post-deployment internal marketing programs, including videos, customized web pages, and more.

Microsoft's FastTrack program helps organizations accelerate deployment and gain end-user adoption of Office 365, including Skype for Business and Teams, providing guidance for planning, delivery, and adoption of collaboration tools. It includes a range of resources, checklists, documentation, communication materials and templates, and more to help customers increase user adoption and achieve their business objectives.

At Enterprise Connect 2019, March 18 to 20 in Orlando, Fla., I'll be moderating a panel, "User Adoption Success Stories and Best Practices," where we'll hear from enterprise IT leaders who have successful end-user adoption programs under their belts. The panelists will discuss the biggest challenges to end-user adoption, as well as the best strategies, providing insights as to how IT organizations should develop a plan for user adoption, and what works and what doesn't work.

If you've deployed a UCC end-user adoption strategy in your organization, I'd love to hear from you, and possibly even include you in the panel. You can contact me at [email protected]. (And if you haven't yet signed up for Enterprise Connect, register now and use the code NJPOSTS to save $200 off the current rate, the lowest available.)

BCStrategies is an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.