Communications and collaboration technologies are essential tools of business – imagine a workplace without some combination of telephony, PCs, messaging, video-conferencing, or audio-visual equipment.
When used well, these technologies make meetings more productive. They make interactions within teams and among work groups more effective. They make decision-making more efficient and well-informed. When blended in the right way, this is what we call "unified collaboration" (UC), or "unified communications and collaboration" (UC&C).
Creating the most effective blend requires a strategy that can be seen as a stool with three legs:
This is because unified collaboration isn't a product – it's an outcome. Achieving that outcome is a matter of understanding the technology, understanding the roadmap and developing an adoption plan that makes it all work together for your users.
Traditionally, the technologies used for meetings and collaborations have been managed in silos. Those silos still exist in many organizations: You still find the computer guy, the phone guy and the AV and/or video conference guy. But today, it is best practice to look at all the pieces as one thing. And while getting it right does involve technology, it's not all about "bits and bytes."
When technology managers want to improve their organization's collaboration technologies, they often make the mistake of starting by shopping around. They get a lot of information about products, comparing features and prices and trying to find the best match for what they perceive as their typical organizational user. But the process usually ends without achieving user satisfaction and without gaining significant utilization and ROI.
That's because shopping for technology for a perceived "typical organizational user" is not the correct place to start. Organizations don't have a single "user." They have people – each one with different use cases. The correct first step involves meeting with these people and understanding their pain points and business drivers. It requires creating a user segmentation plan that differentiates needs among key executives; people in manufacturing; frequent travelers; remote workers; team leaders; HR professionals, and so on. One has to pick the right tools for each, then build an architecture supporting the use of all those tools.
But even when you build it, they’re not necessarily going to come to your new technology "field of dreams" – not without an adoption plan.
Some IT organizations will spend as much as two years on a technology deployment project, then announce it on Friday afternoon before the Monday that it’s available. Then they wonder why people aren’t using it. It's generally because of inertia – people will not change their behaviors unless they are engaged to do just that. Motivating people to change behavior requires nearly as much time and effort as the technology implementation plan.
When an organization creates a unified collaborative ecosystem the right way, the results are transformational. Organizations can: