VOSS Solutions

Driving UC Adoption Rates with UC Service Management

Christopher May, VP Business Development, VOSS Solutions

It is self-evident in today's business and government organizations that collaboration between employees improves the quality and speed of decision making, lifts customer satisfaction and increases overall staff productivity. There have been many industry studies that validate this, but I very much like this quote from an Aberdeen study back in 2012:

"Since we've implemented unified communications (UC), I have been able to get resolutions to questions and issues resolved almost instantly. Previously, issue resolution always included wasted time playing phone-tag, wading through long emails threads, or worse, having to find a time where everyone was available and scheduling a conference call 48 hours into the future."

We've all had similar productivity experiences with new presence, persistent chat and click to conference applications and the fact that people are connected through smart devices 12-16 hours a day. Being able to identify and contact a subject matter expert quickly, because you can see that the person's smart phone is showing positive availability even though it's late in the evening, means that I don't have to wait until the next business day. Most importantly, my ability to resolve the issue lifts my credibility with the effected customer enormously.

There's a myriad of other examples, including mobility features that allow you to work from wherever you are, or the linking of CRM systems to your communications, so that you can obtain relevant information about a customer during a call, down to the ability to link personal devices to the work environment (i.e. BYOD).

Yet, as the research shows, the effectiveness of UC to deliver business productivity gains is directly proportional to the adoption rates. If a subject matter expert hasn't loaded the soft client onto their personal device, then you can't see his/her presence or reach out to chat to them. If the sales team hasn't activated single number reach, then customer calls to their primary number may never get connected.

We know from the research that UC adoption rates are a big concern for organizations. Yes, personal productivity gains are possible from some of the UC tools, such as mobility, but the real value comes from the ubiquitous adoption of UC across the organization … and that is where many organizations are struggling.

Gone are the days when the IT Manager can put out an edict telling all staff that they must conform to the company’s IT policies. Companies invest in UC, implement the services, train their employees … and then "hope" that users will start adopting the new technology. Factors such as usability are important, as is peer group pressure, but in the end it comes down to individuals finding value from the applications and overcoming the barriers associated with learning how to do something new.

I have experienced this recently with the new Cisco Spark application. I saw the Cisco PR activity and downloaded the application, set up my meeting room and invited a few colleagues to join me. I haven't been back to it since. There’s no question that Spark is a solid tool, it works well, has an easy to use GUI and I’m sure that it would improve productivity in our company … but, we have not been able to get over that inertia of adoption.

Another example is a nojitter blog I read recently about UC adoption. In this story, the sales champion refused to adopt UC. "All I need is my cell phone and email", was his view of his communications needs. From the company perspective, however, all the customer contacts and history was not being automatically updated into the CRM system, plus the customers were all seeing the executive's cell number as the caller ID, rather than the company number; none of which is good for the company involved.

So what is the answer for driving UC adoption rates up?
How can UC service management play a role?

There are three important capabilities provided by UC service management that can significantly improve UC user adoption:

  1. Tailored services, based on business needs and role
    Marty Parker wrote about this topic recently on nojitter.com (Many Ways to Work). In short, different workers need different UC applications, but more importantly, they don’t need all the features in any one application. If you can customize the features and settings for a group of users that suits their needs, then the likelihood of them using those services is much higher.
  2. "Push" versus "pull" activation
    Today, management tools will activate a service for a user, but many of the detailed settings are assumed to be configured by the end-user (i.e. "pulled" by the user). A good example if single number reach (SNR) – you can be given the SNR application, but until you add your personal phone numbers it won't do anything. Most companies struggle to get the numbers of user's personal phones added to the system and hence adoption rates for SNR are low.

    But, with UC service management, the personal phone could be added automatically and SNR switched on automatically to simultaneously call both desk and cell phones during extended business hours (i.e. 8am – 9pm). This is "pushed" to the user automatically. They don’t get a choice and in fact if they don’t want the feature, then they have to physically opt-out. As a result, adoption rates are much higher for this model.
  3. Trial to find which applications have the highest stickiness factor
    It is very common for a UC vendor to sell organizations their full suite of UC applications. They do everything they can to stop the customer from attempting to trial other vendors. Yet we know that best-in-class applications (i.e. the ones that users prefer and have higher adoption rates) never come from just one vendor. A good example if the Microsoft Lync client – because it is better integrated to the MS Office desk top applications, users find it more valuable and don’t have to learn a new system. The adoption rates for the Lync client are very high.

The point is that with UC service management, adding a best-in-class 3rd party application is no longer a complex technical problem. The UC service management platform will provide a common user interface across all vendors, which will allow help-desk staff to deliver a range of services and feature, irrespective of vendor, without a major effort. This leaves the IT staff to focus on measuring and optimizing the user adoption rates, rather than performing the physical configuration.

So don't think of UC service management as only being a way to reduce deployment and operational costs. Employ UC service management as you introduce UC features and applications into your organization and watch how your adoption rates outperform your competition and productivity increases.

To discuss this in more detail, please contact me.