At the end of 2015, Nemertes Research conducted a study on Unified Communications (UC) adoption rates and found that there was a significant dip in the level of confidence IT professionals had for their companies’ success in UC. Out of the 50 senior-level IT executives, only 43% described their UC deployment as “successful” or “very successful,” which was down from 61% in 2014.
Let’s take a look at the three main factors leading to low UC adoption rates, and some ways to fix them:
1) Unnecessary Tools
Nothing guarantees low adoption rates more than purchasing a solution filled with tools employees don’t need, or won’t benefit from using. To avoid purchasing unnecessary tools, make sure you are assessing your end user requirements by anticipating their needs, as well as your larger company goals. Get a cross-section of employees involved in the system evaluation and buying process to discover what features they most need. Make sure these employees also demo the system to see its capabilities, firsthand. When comparing vendors, ensure that those capabilities or UC features are indeed easy to use (which is the intention). Involving key stakeholders in the evaluation process when upgrading your business phone system will help you identify problem areas in your existing system (from a user perspective), as well as provide crucial end user feedback on the new phone system prior to deployment.
2) Lack of Training
A Softchoice survey of 250 IT managers and 750 line-of-business employees found that one-third of employees said they didn’t receive any training on their communications systems. Of those that do receive training, half of the respondents revealed they get less than 30 minutes of total training time. In addition to training employees on how to use specific features within your UC solution, help them understand why the features are helpful. Discuss how a specific UC feature can improve productivity and save them time, and then offer ongoing job-specific training so users are comfortable with the tools.
If you are unsure about how to properly train employees on your UC solution, consult your UC vendor or reseller about a train-the-trainer program and online training classes (or self-paced videos). These types of training options make it easy to teach your IT staff the proper way to train end users. With the right guidance provided to both the IT department and the end users, your UC features are more likely to be used at full capacity and become a tool that makes tasks easier and communications more convenient for everyone.
3) Lack of Management Buy-in
As with most technology solutions, having someone in a position of authority to oversee the transition to a communications solution upgrade is needed for it to be successful across all users. Another reason to have management buy-in is to keep employees mindful and responsible for using the system’s features. Brian Ferguson, our Switchvox Product Marketing Manager at Digium, emphasizes the responsibility factor by stating:
“Management buy-in is important for monitoring and making sure employees are updating their status, using their mobile apps and using the other features available within the system until it becomes a habitual part of their workflow. If the end-user evaluation was done correctly, the features of the system are actually needed, and employees should be using them in order to gain the benefits of a unified communications solution.”
In order for your organization to fully realize the benefits of a UC solution, be aware of these common adoption roadblocks, and do your homework first: Understand UC and its capabilities, keep the end-user in mind when choosing a system, properly train employees, and get manager buy-in. Remember to use your technology partners to your advantage, as they can provide insight into successful deployment, as well as provide training tools. As with most worthwhile ventures, deployment (and adoption) of a UC system does not happen overnight, but the technology and your investment in it is worth the effort it takes to guarantee its use.
To get a detailed overview of UC, Download our SMB VoIP Advisor Toolkit: Understanding the Basics of Unified Communications