It seems like many companies have made significant investment in Unified Communications. Employees seem to know all the buzz words associated with messaging and collaboration. Yet strangely enough, I am continually surprised at how few of employees really know what their company’s telecommunication system offers or how to use those features. It is no wonder that UC investments typically don’t reap the cost savings or productivity benefits touted by the manufacturers.
The user device does not seem the issue holding back UC Adoption. The problem is familiarity. For the most part, people are familiar with PCs, tablets, smartphones, and even the plain old telephone. What they don’t know is how to take advantage of UC features or services that can be accessed through these devices. According to a Softchoice survey, 33% of employees indicated they received no education regarding new services and those that did, 50% indicated it was less than 30 minutes.
A single training class isn’t going to increase UC usage regardless of the time investment. Consistent long term exposure is the key to increasing usage through increased familiarity. When individuals are given multiple opportunities over an extended time period to learn unique UC services the usage of those services tends to increase dramatically. A point in case –use of our internal conference calling system increased by more than 300% (eliminating outside services) when we made the effort to familiarize and educate the staff on our in-house capabilities.
From this experience and others, the keys to driving adoption of both new and existing telecommunication services have become clear.
- Define specific audiences - the telecommunication function(s) must be relevant to the intended audience. Features such as “1-Number Find/Follow Me” may be valuable to the field sales force but are of little interest to desk-bound office workers.
- Create unique adoption tools – use a variety of media (video, texts, email, checklists, guides) that provide the target audience with a number of ways to gain exposure and experience the UC service or telecom function
- Construct and execute a program – establish an extended timeframe plan that pushes information and tools to the user community and as well as enables them to pull information as they need it.
Increasing user familiarity by providing engaging and consistent exposure to relevant communication tools seems to be the right formula for driving UC adoption.