Step 2

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2007-11-13 Print this article Print

: Remember the Users"> Step 2: Remember the Users User uptake of a UC system can be viral, and well-trained users getting the most out of the system will likely be the best advocates to quickly expand adoption of the platform. But implementers cannot readily assume that each and every worker will adapt to the system to the same degree or at the same rate, so user training and attention to user comfort will be paramount. "You have a wide array of tech knowledge and skills among end workers, affecting their ability to take up new user interfaces and new applications," said Dennis Karlinsky, principal group program manager of the Unified Communications team at Microsoft.
The act of introducing something as seemingly simple as presence could easily get complicated, as users need to understand what all the red and green lights showing up in Outlook, Excel or Word really mean. How to best communicate depending on that presence information will take some getting used to.
To adequately prepare the user base for the new technology, implementers must provide training that meets the users needs. Taking the time to put together a manual is a logical step for implementers, but the interactive nature of UC and presence would be better served by live, hands-on training sessions or at least an in-depth and engaging Webcast. Karlinsky recommends going a step further. Users need to understand the options that are available to them, as there are numerous devices and accessories that could be part of each persons personal-area network for unified communications. Users should have the opportunity to select the devices that best suit their needs, so, for example, the requirements of the hands-free Bluetooth crowd will be met as well as the needs of those who prefer the cold comfort of a handset against their ears. "Form factor is superimportant. Have open houses to show the devices, so people can come and play with them physically," said Karlinsky. "Our partners and systems integrators that did that had a much faster ramp-up time in terms of getting end-user adoption." Prior to elementary training and device selection, however, it is incumbent upon UC implementers to understand how the companys users conduct business on a daily basis to fully understand what needs to be unified. Dell moves into unified communications. Click here to read more. "Think about what is in the users work spaces," said Ciscos Thompson. "Ask what needs to get the job done that supports the companys competitive advantage and that will tell you what to think about as you go through the process of unification." Thompson sees four primary areas to take into consideration: devices (PCs, phones, mobile devices and accessories), applications (messaging, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, collaboration tools), network types (office, home, mobile, wired or wireless) and operating systems. Conducting this kind of inventory will help implementers ensure that pockets of users are not left out in the cold as the project comes into place. If the graphics team is running on Macs and the engineering team is running on Linux, implementers need to ensure that the new communications tools will work on those platforms and will be supported in the applications that would benefit from a collaborative environment. Page 4: Step 3: Deploy in Parallel

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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