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When It Comes To UC&C, One Size Does Not Fit All

This is the first post in a new series from Dimension Data and Cisco Channels looking at user adoption and integration of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions. Findings stem from Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C Survey, developed with ICT researcher Ovum and featuring responses from more than 2,700 participants in 18 countries across 20 vertical industries.

We’ve all heard that selling UC&C solutions has to be less about flashy technology, and more about a comfortable, productive user experience. In other words, are video sessions, presence and other UC&C functions as easy and convenient to use as a traditional voice call? But user adoption of UC&C isn’t by any means the last step in a UC&C implementation. It’s actually a lot closer to the first step, as Neill Hart puts it.

“We don’t have to worry about user adoption with most other areas of IT,” says Hart, converged communications director for Dimension Data Europe. “If you put in a firewall on a Sunday night, for example, it’s at work the next morning and the user probably isn’t even aware it’s there. With most technologies, the user doesn’t even worry about it. But with UC&C, it’s everything. If I’m not entirely comfortably with technology, then I can find a way of not using it.”

User consultation versus influence – a decision-maker view

Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C Survey looked at responses from thousands of IT decision makers and UC&C users across 20 vertical industries in 18 different countries. Among the key data points, Dimension Data and its commissioned researcher, Ovum, found that 78 percent of IT decision makers already have a strategic UC&C plan in place, but that less than 20 percent of global IT directors get a major contribution to that plan from the users in their organization.

That’s a disconnect, Hart says, because it suggests many IT administrators are applying a one-size-fits-all mentality to UC&C deployment versus actually profiling their users and tailoring their UC&C purchases to individual needs. Examining UC&C preferences down to the user level drives better adoption rates, boosts ROI and can even save money in areas such as licensing costs.

“If you’re not user-profiling, you’re setting yourself up for failure,” Hart says. “Maybe I want every single user in my organization to adopt video conferencing and use it every day. But if I have an organization that includes hundreds of factory workers, maybe they don’t all need to have access to video resources. One hundred percent adoption of every UC&C technology, except for perhaps telephony, is simply not practical. Again, this isn’t the case with most other information technologies because generally speaking everyone has to use the same network, the same data center resources, and the same firewall.”

Professional services and assessments go a long way toward driving user adoption in the beginning of a UC&C deployment because they tell an organization a lot about individual user needs, Hart says.

“I like to give examples from everyday life,” he says. “I can’t think of another profession that would give the same toolset to everybody and expect a good outcome. Say you’ve got one car mechanic working on a 16-cruiser rig, and another mechanic working on a Ferrari. Would you give them the same exact tools? Or how about a brain surgeon versus an orthopedic surgeon fixing a broken leg? You get my point. But for some reason, in IT, we seem to think this is an acceptable idea.”

“It’s all about mapping the most appropriate technologies to each kind of collaboration,” Hart adds.

Check back with Cisco and Dimension Data next month for a discussion on how to look at UC&C as an outcome, versus a technology purchase. In the meantime, learn more about Dimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C study here. And don’t forget to join the conversation; leave a comment below or talk to us on Dimension Data’s UCC Facebook page.

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