Enterprises are rethinking their approach to communications services. In today’s mobile and digital environment, relying on outdated communication technology can hamstring businesses from achieving perfect workplace harmony (read: enabling employees to work both remotely and in-office, anywhere and anytime).
Employers are adopting new unified communications solutions to enable valuable daily business interactions, for both internal and external collaboration. But getting employees to embrace a new UC tool goes beyond mass deployment. Simply installing a web conferencing program does not guarantee employees will use it and could result in a wasteful investment. As a channel partner, successfully connecting organizations with the appropriate UC solutions involves a hands-on approach that guarantees total user adoption and maximizes ROI.
Understand Why an Organization Needs UC
Before recommending a specific vendor solution or suite, it’s important channel partners understand why a customer is seeking a UC solution in the first place. UC purchasing boils down to what end users need, not what the IT department thinks they need. Proper due diligence prior to purchase protects clients from investing in systems their employees will not use.
For channel partners, this presents opportunities to conduct end user discovery interviews to determine where a UC system would be most beneficial, properly train employees on best practices post-implementation, and offer long-term support as updates are made to the technology (or as your client’s business needs evolve). Failure to include employees from the beginning of the UC search process can result in widespread backlash – or indifference – to tools after they are installed. Employees want UC tools that complement or simplify their daily activities, such as connecting to video conferences or virtually sharing documents with external parties. With the end user in mind, channel partners can direct businesses to the UC tools that alleviate (rather than exacerbate) employee pain points.
Test for Performance Quality and Offer Administrative Support
Once a UC system is in place, there is plenty more work to be done – from monitoring for performance quality to measuring the usefulness of the new tool. To ensure a seamless transition to a UC solution, channel partners can offer businesses help desk support and consistent performance reporting. This removes some of the administrative burden usually placed on internal IT departments and compensates for any UC skills gaps.
To help businesses maximize their investments, channel firms can conduct regular usage reporting to monitor how employees are interacting with newly-deployed UC tools. This is a boon for IT leaders concerned about shadow UC, which typically occurs when companies do not offer resources to accommodate employees’ specific communication needs. By monitoring clients’ UC environments, channel firms can help detect instances of shadow UC adoption and redirect them toward enterprise-grade tools to mitigate security risks.
Guide Clients’ Shift to Cloud-Based UC
Channel partners can also help enterprises extend their UC investments by incrementally moving their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. A cloud-based UC system, also known as unified communications as a service (or UCaaS), can significantly reduce long-term maintenance expenses and simplify IT administrators’ roles by centralizing management tasks. As a hosted solution, rather than one dependent on physical infrastructure, UCaaS can be deployed across end users (regardless of location or device) instantly. UCaaS also eliminates the need for a dedicated, physical disaster recovery location in the case of power outages or natural disasters, making it easy for employees to continue working wherever they may be.
For businesses that are reluctant to move their entire infrastructure to the cloud, channel partners can advise clients on the benefits of a hybrid approach. A hybrid option combines on-premises and cloud-based UC infrastructure, reducing operational costs while taking administrative responsibility off internal IT departments.
Channel partners play a significant role in helping businesses master UC and encouraging 100 percent user adoption post-implementation. Maximizing an organization’s investment in UC begins with examining the customer’s needs, identifying the appropriate solutions, and creating milestones that measure for impact. With the right channel partner, IT leaders can successfully deploy a UC strategy across their organization that drives long-term value and increases workplace productivity.Sunny Flynn (News - Alert) is director of channel sales at West Unified Communications.
Edited by Erik Linask