Why End-Users Must Be Part of the Unified Communications Discussion


Gartner recently published its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (UC). In addition to its analysis of various UC vendors and solutions, the research firm provided an overview of the trends that are driving the evolution of the UC market. Leading UC solutions aren’t just a collection of communication and collaboration tools under a common interface. According to Gartner, “The primary goal of all UC solutions is to improve user productivity and to enhance the business processes related to communications and collaboration.”

That’s why the user experience must drive UC planning. UC success and ROI are largely dependent upon productivity gains, and productivity isn’t possible unless users accept and adopt the UC tools at their disposal. User adoption will only occur if the UC solution meets user demand for an experience that is simple, easily accessible and capable of helping them do their jobs better.

Clearly, UC solutions and functionality must be chosen with the end-user in mind. However, not all end-users are the same. For example, accounting personnel who work in the office have different needs than sales teams who rely heavily upon mobile.

Not only must user experience and adoption be at the core of UC planning, but the end-users themselves must be part of the equation. On a high level, which users will benefit most from UC? What will UC help you achieve, both organizationally and from the perspective of various user groups? Digging deeper, what tools are users aware of? Which ones do they prefer and why? What specific business problems will UC help to solve? Just as collaboration is critical to the success of the organization, a similar level of collaboration with end-users will go a long way toward increasing UC adoption rates.

Once you’ve determined what functionality is needed, it’s important to select a UC platform that is intuitive and easy-to-use. For example, ShoreTel Connect carries on ShoreTel’s legacy of “brilliantly simple” business communications, with a streamlined user interface that provides one-click access to an array of collaboration tools. And because it is built on a single software code base, ShoreTel Connect provides the same user experience across on-premises and cloud deployment options.

Of course, the focus on the end-user should continue with formal UC training. Users will not adopt any technology solution that they don’t understand. Even the most intuitive systems require training. Organizations need to educate users about the value of the UC solution, how it can help them do their jobs, and what organizational goals can be achieved by implementing and using the solution. Different user groups will likely require different types of training to get them up to speed on functionality and how they’re related to specific tasks.

Training, just like utilization of the UC solution, must be a job requirement, and it must be ongoing as new features and capabilities are introduced. Without proper training, it is unrealistic to expect UC success.

Return on your UC investment can be greatly enhanced through collaboration with end-users – before, during and after implementation. User input and feedback will help you choose the right UC solution and features, provide the best possible user experience, increase adoption, maximize productivity and achieve business goals.