Let There Be Training

by Andrew Prokop | Arrow Systems Integration

Source: No Jitter

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty geeky guy. I am fascinated by new gadgets and clever software. Looking around my desk, I see at least nine different electronic widgets, gizmos, and questionably practical appliances. Even worse, I have an almost obsessive curiosity about what makes them do whatever it is that they do. Scattered amongst those gadgets are tools to take them apart and hopefully put them back together without ending up with too many "spare" parts.

This is why I am so interested in protocols. This is why I love sitting down with Wireshark traces deciphering call flows and client/server interactions. Frankly, this is why I started writing unified communications articles in the first place. I figure that if this stuff is exciting to me, it must be just as exciting to the rest of the world.

However, there is one thing about technology that doesn't excite me, and I run across it all the time -- technology that users don't understand. No, I am not talking about my kind of understanding involving screwdrivers and packet traces. I am talking about not understanding how technology is used, let alone used efficiently. I am talking about a company that puts a new application on its users' PCs without a lick of training. Sure, geeks like you and me will eventually figure it out, but the vast majority of folks will either struggle with it or not use it at all.

I see this all too often in the communications arena. A company will spend significant amounts of money on something like Skype for Business, install it on every desktop in the company, and then wonder why the adoption rate is so low. Now, I am not picking on Skype and saying that it's difficult to use. It has a number of features that are easily understood without training or a user manual.

However, there are many sophisticated and workplace transformational aspects that don't just jump out at you. You don't make a major investment in a unified communications product for presence jellybeans. You do it because you expect workforce efficiency, ongoing expenses reductions, employee productivity, customer retention, and improved teamwork.

I travel around the country speaking at users groups and conferences. I also meet directly with companies, large and small. I speak to directors of IT, heads of contact centers, business unit leaders, and the worker bees that do a great deal of the heavy lifting. I've seen some very successful implementations of unified communications, but I have seen and heard of far too many halfhearted attempts.

I wish I had a dime for every time I've shown someone how to actually use a product on his or her PC or smartphone. While I love hearing someone say to me, "Wow, it can do that?" I am always tempted to say, "What's wrong with your IT department? You should have already known how to do that already."

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