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Think Of UC&C Like You Would ERP

This is the second post in a monthly 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.

In last month’s post, we talked about how sales of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) need to be less about flashy technology and more about the user experience – “one size” UC&C sales definitely do not fit all types of customers.

To Scott Cruikshank, director, converged communications, North America for Dimension Data, it goes even deeper than that.

“UCC is not a technology,” Scott says. “It is about improving communication and business process by leveraging technology tools. If we take a technology-first approach, we tend to look only at a particular silo of the UCC stack or limited applications for the technology.”

UCCDimension Data’s 2013 Global UC&C Survey reveals that about 78 percent of IT decision makers say they have plans for the use of UC&C tools in “silos,” but only about 16 percent described themselves as having a comprehensive UC&C plan. As Dimension Data sees it, that’s a significant concern – more than three quarters of IT buyers, it seems, are implementing UC&C technologies piecemeal and missing out on the cost savings, productivity potential and efficiency benefits of a comprehensive strategy.

In other words, they’re not, getting true business outcome from their UC&C purchases.

“I like to use ERP systems as an analogy,” he says. “Organizations implement ERP systems to make the functional units perform better by integrating all of the functions of business into a single database. Prior to ERP roll-out, organizations spent a tremendous amount of time reviewing the functional requirements of the business to ensure its success. UCC should be viewed the same way. We need to understand the functional communication requirements of the business and the users prior to rolling out the technology.”

By and large, this shift in approach to UC&C implementation is only beginning.

“For years, everyone had a different definition for UCC,” Scott explains. “The voice teams looked at it as the migration from TDM to IP. The desktop teams viewed it as IM/P and web collaboration. The video teams looked at it as an expansion of video to immersive video on the high-end and personal video on the low end. All of these improvements are a positive but we have struggled to get the full value out of the investments made in these technologies. We have seen inconsistent adoption and a lack of organizational reporting on business impact.”

Do UC&C Buyers Really Know Their Users?

The result is that many IT decision makers and their employees end up confused and frustrated. They may have bought the right tools – sometimes too many, says Scott – but they lack the guidance and a comprehensive approach for how the tools can be leveraged and are part of a uniform strategy.

As noted in Dimension Data’s survey, about 75 percent of surveyed UC&C users understand the tools they have available to them, but only 42 percent feel that they were educated on the tools they have available to them.

“With ERP it is easy to gain adoption because the new tool replaces the old tool,” Scott says. “When new communications tools are rolled out, rarely do the old tools go away. So the biggest misconception we see is that the buyers believe  if they make an investment, users will adopt it. Users are used to communicating one way. We cannot assume users know or understand how the tools can help them.”

In many cases, technology buyers simply aren’t getting to know their users – a big mistake, as Scott notes, and as Neill Hart noted in last month’s post. Among the more eye-popping statistics in Dimension Data’s study was that nearly a quarter of organizations surveyed believed all users had the same profile, and 13 percent of organization surveyed saw no value in profiling at all.

“For organizations to maximize their investments in UCC, they have to understand the users’ business and communication requirements,” Scott emphasizes. “They have to show the users how these tools will improve their day-to-day business.”

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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