Why user adoption is critical for any unified communication deployment


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By Blair Pleasant, Microsoft Guest Author

The notion that “If you build it, they will come” is great for baseball fields, but unfortunately not for deploying business communications technologies.

Whether for basic unified communications (UC) functionality or team collaboration applications, end user adoption is the key to a successful deployment. When it comes to UC, focusing on usage and adoption leads to greater success than simply focusing on making technology work.

Unified communications is defined by UCStrategies as “communications integrated to optimize business processes,” includes the integration of real-time and non-real time communication tools such as voice, instant messaging, and audio/web/video conferencing with a single unified interface to increase worker productivity. Newer team collaboration offerings include chat or messaging, content sharing, and persistent team spaces to enable virtual teams to better communicate and collaborate.

How can you encourage usage and adoption of your new business communication tools to ensure you get the most out of your UC investment? Here are some tips for getting started with a user adoption strategy.

  1. Start with a sponsorship team that includes the line of business owners, IT and telecom managers, and a sampling of end users, from sales reps to admins. The earlier they can be brought into the planning process, the better.
  2. Next, get buy-in from the top. C-level and other executives can set an example and drive adoption for the rest of the company by using team collaboration, video, and other UC functionality for internal communications.

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  1. Identify “power users” who will be advocates for the UC solution and help others see the value and benefits of these tools. They can help drive usage and make the UCC tools go viral.
  2. Build excitement and do internal marketing before deploying the solution. This can be as basic as hanging posters around the office, or doing hands-on road shows where people get to try out the products.
  3. Training, training, training. Perhaps the most important part of a user adoption strategy is end user training. Training includes both the how and the why. Focus on how to use the various features and capabilities, as well as why employees should use the UC solution and the benefits they’ll attain. When workers see the value that UCC provides to their productivity, they’re more likely to integrate it into their daily routine.
  4. Focus on change management. UC isn't just about technology - it's a new way of working for most people. Using team collaboration tools, for example, can be a challenge for workers that are more comfortable working in isolation rather than collaborating with team members.

Successful UCC deployments providing the expected benefits and return on investment depend on workers using and adopting the tools and technologies provided. If you deploy it, they will come – but have a strategy in place to help ensure adoption!

An independent industry analyst with over 18 years’ experience, providing market insights and analysis for end user and vendor clients. Blair Pleasant is a frequent speaker and participant in industry conferences, webinars, podcasts, and other events about the evolving Unified Communications and Collaboration and contact center markets.

Blair’s blogs and articles can be found on http://www.ucstrategies.com and tweets on Twitter as @blairplez

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