How to balance the adoption of Unified Communications

This post originally appeared on my LinkedIn

With the continuing juggernaut of Microsoft UC (Lync or Skype for Business, depending on where in the journey you’re at) adoption in the market, I never stop discovering new approaches to get users using things faster – be that from our own internal thinking, customer ideas or feedback from users.

Recently I’ve seen a few user scenarios that call for balance. That there is a valid reason to accommodate some of the status quo when it comes to UC adoption, but also ongoing value to push forward with a new way of working.

Be an endpoint ninja

Sometimes users *just* want a phone that works like their old one. Pure and simple. You can provide all the UC business cases, value propositions and training you want to the business, but some teams/staff just want to pick up a phone and make a phone call. I’ve even heard from one exec: “I just want something that I can slam down on my desk when I’m mad”. You definitely can’t do that with a headset. 🙂

In these scenarios, don’t fight it. Be flexible, give them what they want and make them happy. Reduce friction, improve staff satisfaction. They’ll come around. Let them know you’re there for when they want to make the move to a headset or try desktop video conferencing.

Know how to train

“One size fits all” is the fastest way to failure when it comes to providing staff with training. It’s important to find out how people learn within the organisation and tailor an approach for each demographic. Cutting edge web based training or self-service videos aren’t for everyone, so work out who learns best from good-old in-person classroom based training and quick reference guides handed to them on laminated cards.

When it comes to time poor stakeholders, getting them to click on a link to watch a training video is a big ask. For users like this, it’s actually better to carve out time in their calendar to get them in a room with their undivided attention.

Don’t ignore the network

I couldn’t resist chucking some technical content in this post. 🙂

Repeatedly I come across organisations that have deployed Lync for beneficial features like video conferencing with great intentions, but users just aren’t using it because the network is struggling. The finger pointing starts, and the network team says the network is fine, and the team trying to evangelise Skype are left there with no support to help the business have a good experience.

In situations like these, you need a mediator in the middle with the raw data. Both at the network and application level. Surveying network readiness and conducting network assessments by synthesising traffic are the best ways to identify parts of the network suffering from packet loss, jitter and to validate Quality of Service configuration. Then look at the Quality of Experience (QoE) data that Lync/Skype itself is reporting, because this will identify any PC or device problems causing poor call quality.

The earlier you can do this, the better. I keep seeing users that have simply stopped using Lync because the experience is so bad, and once you’re in that reactive situation its hard to gain that confidence back in your audience. Your best bet is a re-launch of the service e.g. the latest Star Trek movies. 🙂

It’s a journey

Remember that things don’t suddenly grind to a halt at once the deployment has finished. There should be an ongoing feedback loop between your users, IT and management to ensure the right support exists and that everyone is happy and you can remediate where necessary.

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