How to Help Users Connect with Unified Communications

Today's busy IT professionals are burdened by the demands of doing more with less, which is a common impetus for them to champion unified communications across the enterprise. Unified communications can maximize an enterprise's existing infrastructure and communications investments. And, as Knowledge Center contributor Gunjan Bhow explains here, unified communications can also help enterprises save money and valuable IT support resources.

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As more and more companies adopt unified communications due to its collaboration and cost benefits, it's critical to remember that user adoption will ultimately determine if UC deployments are successful. Users can be hesitant to accept new applications, even if they're simpler and more effective in the long run (much to the chagrin of IT managers).

Despite efforts to standardize on innovative communication tools, some users refuse adoption, instead sticking with their old standbys. For example, many an IT staff has been plagued with help desk requests involving Yahoo Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger, regardless of the fact that the company has standardized on Microsoft Office Communicator or IBM Lotus Sametime. Why are employees hesitant toward many of IT's efforts to standardize? The answer is simple: They are unfamiliar and unsatisfied with the experience.

When rolling out UC deployment plans, many organizations fail to consider the endpoint. If they do, they typically leave very little budget allotted for solutions that will truly meet the needs of the user. This can be hazardous to UC adoption, as most employees are characteristically reluctant to change and will not use an interface that is complicated or unfamiliar.

In many UC environments, where the PC is the main platform for voice and audio, the traditional tactile experience of picking up a phone and dialing to connect with someone is dramatically altered. This could cause some users to forgo the new UC system completely. The IT team should provide employees with endpoint options, including headsets, speakerphones or handsets that require little or no training and are just as easy to use as a desk phone.

Complexity becomes an issue in hybrid UC telephony environments. Professionals might get a call on a desk phone or mobile phone, need to conference in someone via softphone, and later join a Webinar or listen to music through the PC. Depending on the endpoint configuration, complexity could cause frustration for the user and wasted resources for the organization.