This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Unified communications deployments are on the rise, with compelling data on resulting productivity benefits and operating efficiencies. But within some organizations, executive or departmental objections may be holding back implementations.
If your company is locked in a holding pattern, the answers to three of the most common objections to deploying a UC strategy may be just what you need to gain consensus.
“How will I get users to adopt the technology?”
The rate of unified communications adoption drives UC return on investment. So, it’s critical to create an adoption path that eliminates the burden users often associate with new technology and provides opportunities for users to embrace easily UC and quickly see productivity benefits.
A pilot deployment designed to help an organization understand user requirements is a key step in a well-planned strategy. A good pilot plan helps prepare employees, and also helps to create evangelists who often quickly reach an “aha moment” that makes them wonder how they ever lived without UC capabilities. For companies that may not want to implement the full UC stack initially, starting with instant messaging and presence can be a foundation that allows users the ability to get acquainted with the technology. Initial and ongoing training, through the likes of manuals, tip sheets or online training, also are vital in driving user adoption.
“This technology is new and unfamiliar. I’m not sure I’m willing to make a change.”
Many companies already have deployed unified communications solutions and are enjoying significant employee productivity and business process improvement benefits. Some are even planning to extend UC and collaboration capabilities beyond their own employees and enterprise to collaborate with their vendors and customers.
For new implementations, a voice pilot is a great way for organizations to gain working knowledge of the capabilities and features, as well as the business process, productivity and investment benefits.
“I already have technology investments, like a recently deployed PBX (News - Alert). Why move to UC?”
Unified communications is not an all or nothing proposition. But not all vendors deliver an open standards solution that integrates easily with incumbent technology. UC vendors with open platforms are not tied to any one specific voice infrastructure and don’t require organizations that implement their solutions to replaceexisting voice technologies initially. Existing voice infrastructure components, such as a PBX, can be integrated with non-proprietary UC solutions and continue to be utilized until fully depreciated or until the end of lifecycle.
The key is to have a well planned implementation that leverages existing technology investments, while adopting the UC components that make the most sense for your organization in the near term. Additional capabilities can be deployed as part of a longer term roadmap for seamless integration among applications in the future.
For some companies, it’s about specific capabilities. UC is a key advantage for companies with remote or highly dispersed workforces. Organizations can much more easily and cost effectively service and empower the mobile, home or small office worker through UC telephony than traditional modes. Companies that do choose to replace their PBXs with an initial deployment also can eliminate significant costs of Web conferencing services and audio conferencing bridges that PBX users incur. Often, the cost savings from these services alone pay for a full deployment in a matter of a couple of months.
Like any new and unfamiliar territory, it’s only natural to be hesitant to make the leap forward. The important lesson here is that unified communications is paving the way for the future, and the capabilities and functionality are here to stay.
Mike Sheridan (News - Alert) is executive vice president of worldwide sales with Aspect (www.aspect.com).
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi