Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) promises huge benefits and competitive advantages for enterprises. By integrating multiple forms of enterprise communications, UCC transforms how people and groups work together to achieve organizational goals, enabling them to work faster, more efficiently, and accomplish more.
But what is the best approach to implementing UCC in your business? A good way to start is by matching communications technologies to specific workflows and business processes. That’s accomplished by developing usage profiles of the specific user groups, such as mobile sales reps, workgroup teams, administrative workers, and so on. Every individual or group has different communication needs due to their different work patterns and processes—resulting in a different usage profile.
Thinking in terms of usage profiles lets you focus on specific solutions for each group. It also lets you break down your UCC implementation plan into manageable pieces. As a result, you won’t necessarily have to implement your UCC solution all at once. Instead, you can approach UCC as a series of solutions that can be put in place incrementally. You simply choose the right UCC technology for each usage profile, and then roll the solutions out in a series of steps that let you evaluate the business benefits and ROI of each step. You minimize risks and generate benefits faster.
As a starting point, here are several basic usage profiles that you are likely to identify within your enterprise:
Mobile employees. This includes sales representatives and service people who work out in the field. They use smartphones for contacts, directory, texting, instant messaging, email, calendar, and presence. Typically, they connect calls using smartphone applications such as Microsoft Lync or Salesforce.com Connections versus going through a PBX. This is a more efficient and economical approach that provides a good user experience.
Dedicated workgroups and teams. Most enterprises have dedicated groups throughout the organization in marketing, design, research and development, and so on. These groups need collaborative workspaces where they communicate, coordinate, and share documents, calendars, and tools. Since workgroups are often geographically dispersed and mobile, they often need audio and video access to workspaces using laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Administration, accounting, and transaction processing. This enterprise group handles important tasks such as transaction processing, accounting, and employee services using one or more software applications. Integrating communications capabilities into their applications via UCC allows them to communicate directly from their computer screens, streamlining workflow.
Project-specific production teams. Sometimes, workgroups and teams are temporary, focused on a single project with a set time frame. They may work both individually and as a group—and are often geographically dispersed. In this UCC implementation, team members need communications capabilities embedded within applications and working tools—and usable with wireless devices.
Contact center employees. In many businesses, the contact center is the face of the enterprise for its customers. As a result, fast and efficient customer service is paramount. To provide the best possible service, contact center agents need automated communications controls integrated with their visual information screens, along with high-octane analytics to rapidly respond to customer questions, identify needs, find solutions, and process new orders.
Corporate staff. An executive and supporting staff is in reality a kind of workgroup. Members will also work both on and off site and continually need to communicate verbally and wirelessly and share documents, calendars, and other information. The executive may also require a customized collaboration environment that includes high-definition desktop and telepresence video communication capabilities.
Naturally, the key to providing the best UCC solution for each usage profile is choosing the right UCC tools that support the unique workflow and business processes of the group. A one-size-fits-all approach almost never works and typically creates inefficiencies, increases frustration, and wastes time and money.
By taking the time and carefully developing accurate usage profiles, you can precisely determine how users, business processes, and workflows can best benefit from UCC. Then you can assemble the right mix of UCC solutions to meet those requirements. Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, concurs, and recommends the following:
- Strategize and plan: First, identify the communication requirements of the specific users—in other words, develop usage profiles.
- Choose the solutions. Find the right solutions for each usage profile and develop a deployment strategy.
- Deploy: Choose a trial group that will provide the most meaningful feedback; train the users on how to use their UCC solution; and evaluate the results.
- Operate and Evolve. Monitor results and usage patterns. Enable people from different parts of the organization to share their UCC experiences through all phases and make changes if necessary.
And as outlined at the beginning, roll out your UCC plan incrementally and don’t be afraid to make changes and additions along the way.
About the Author
James Wale is the Director of Product Management at Tata Communications, where he manages a global team of UCC Specialists who advise Sales and Marketing teams with in-depth product knowledge. Jim actively participates in a variety of industry events around the world, giving him insights into dynamic customer needs, and ensuring that Tata Communications is responsive with its products and solutions.More Content by James Wale