If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that there are far too many communications tools for the world to handle. From tools by Cisco and 8×8, to Microsoft Teams and Skype, to Zoom—I could go on and on. In fact, while I’m at it, let’s throw in Apple’s FaceTime and Google Duo, and . . . Snapchat—there’s always Snapchat.
Sound’s ridiculous, right? Well, this is the issue that all unified communications (UC) engineers, IT professionals, managers and executives alike deal with daily. Too many options representing too many employee personal habits and preferences—all creating a maelstrom of devices and platforms that circumvent every aspect of corporate oversight, risk and compliance.
Why is that? Firstly, let’s look at the seemingly far-fetched apps listed above, such as Snapchat. You may laugh, but I am close friends with a senior executive who, to this day, has daily battles with the younger members of his sales team for discussing deals on Snapchat. It’s here that I’ll ask you to pause to let that sink in for a moment. Now, adding FaceTime or Duo into the equation doesn’t sound that weird does it?
It’s at this stage that overall UC adoption begins to suffer greatly. The influence of personal choice in communications applications hinders the adoption of sanctioned UC tools due to a lack of consistency, difficult implementation processes, and perceived connectivity issues.
OK, so let’s move to the more corporate side of things. Here is where Cisco, Microsoft, Zoom and others begin to rear their heads as part of the daily communications infrastructure. Now, each of these, on their own, offer pluses and minuses but, together, they muddy the proverbial waters, as people like certain tools for their own purposes and, therefore, pull people into using the additional tools being introduced in the workplace. This is where people are suddenly jumping from a free Skype call and chat to attending a meeting on the Cisco platform—see where this is going?
It’s for this reason that companies of all types must reassess their UC infrastructure from the ground up, ensuring that the chosen platform, processes, ease of use and connectivity satisfy all users and make their lives easier and more productive in the process.
Not surprisingly, this is easier said than done. Firstly, the outside world has a greater hold on communications habits than ever before, habits that pertain not only to employees, but also to partners and beyond, all the way through to customers. That same free communications app that has built the habits of employees has also built the habits—not to mention expectations—of customers.
From how internal communications are configured to how call center functionality and features are created to meet evolving customer demand all need to be addressed, planned for, and executed in a way that makes sense. Just because Cisco or Microsoft delivers UC in a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s right for a particular organization—it should be augmented to meet the goals of all involved.
So, to answer the question of why employees don’t use UC properly, the answer is simple. Until they have a viable, easy-to-use alternative to what they already like, why would they switch?
That’s the difficult part. Customizing an entire UC environment to meet the highest of expectations is a monumental task, one that may very well be outside the expertise of IT or telephony groups internally. And, for the record, that’s not in any way meant to disparage these groups. In fact, quite the opposite: these groups have far better and more important things to do every day than configure UC functionality.
This is why UC solutions providers like us exist: to tackle the really important minutia of UC while everyone else focuses on their actual highly valuable jobs. I have no doubt that if you’re reading this, you probably suffer from the same challenge. The good thing is, at least now you know who to call to solve the issue.