Unified communication (UC) integrates deeply into the way a business works: improving business processes, creating happier customers and boosting the experience for staff too.
Any solution with high-impact, widespread benefits will encounter implementation challenges. It is impossible to wish away complexity. However, with the right approach, any UC implementation can progress smoothly.
In this article, we highlight the most common challenges for UC implementations and the simple but effective solutions we’ve learned through the countless UC implementations we’ve done here at Conn3ct.
Let’s take a look.
User Adoption – And Adaptation
We already indicated how UC can deliver big benefits to businesses, but often these benefits go hand in hand with change. Tapping the most out of a new communications platform requires users to engage with new technology.
Herein lies one of the biggest unified communications challenges: convincing users to adopt new communications features, and to adapt to changes to underlying business processes.
Companies that skip this essential step while implementing UC risk frustrating end-users and harming user adoption while leaving some of the biggest benefits of UC on the table.
Thankfully, helping users to adapt to new technology and encouraging user adoption isn’t all that hard. We suggest the following steps:
- Involve end-users throughout the implementation process and ensure that you build the solution around the requirements of them – not around technical features alone.
- Make sure features and benefits are outlined clearly, highlighting not only what a feature does, but what the benefit is for everyday productivity and efficiency.
- Don’t hold back on user training: UC platforms are incredibly capable but also expansive and most users won’t take the time to delve into the possibilities.
- Give users time to switch, and be prepared for any hiccups throughout user adoption, pre-empting these where possible – doing so will reduce any chance of end users turning their backs on a solution.
- Consider a staged implementation rather than going the “rip and replace” route, it gives users more time to adapt – but weigh this up against the state of your existing telecoms infrastructure.
- In short, take note (and care) of your end-users throughout implementation and you’ll smooth over the process of switching while maximising the brilliant benefits unified communications bring.
The Technical Implementation
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a medium-sized business looking to compete in a bigger league thanks to UC, or a global enterprise embarking on major business change.
Successfully switching to a UC solution depends on getting the technical elements right.
It is indeed the case for any digital transformation project, but we suspect that too often it is tempting to underestimate just how important the technical implementation of UC is.
Don’t make the mistake to assume that unified communications solutions “are just voice”, instead follow these tips for a rock-solid UC implementation:
- Partner with a vendor that benefits from deep UC competency, don’t leave your UC implementation to your day to day IT support company – UC transformation is not just another IT project.
- Don’t underestimate the reach of UC just because the most commonly utilised element is voice: your UC platform is as core to your business as CRM or ERP.
- Staged transition vs “rip and replace” has consequences beyond the user experience – make sure both options are evaluated deeply for pros and cons from a technical perspective too, the devil may well be in the details.
- Focus on interoperability throughout the implementation: many of the benefits of UC relies on its flexibility alongside the ability to integrate with other enterprise systems, so avoid getting locked into a silo.
- Don’t hesitate to lock away some features if you need to – yes, UC is comprehensive in scope, but sometimes locking out some app integrations or troublesome features can simplify matters for both technical teams and end-users.
With your technical implementation off on the right foot, you can be sure that UC will continue to support your business year in, year out.
Optimising The Cost Of Unified Communications
One of the important benefits of unified communications comes down to the bottom line. UC can reduce telecoms expenditure while introducing business efficiencies that lead to widespread cost savings.
However, your organisation may become disillusioned with the net cost effect of UC unless you take a few key steps:
- Choose your carrier carefully, or indeed choose multiple carriers – UC invites flexibility, including in the carrier used to transmit your voice calls. Just because a UC bundle includes voice does not mean that the bundled voice service will deliver low call costs.
- Plan with care – it’s common knowledge that IT projects can imply spiralling costs because of poor planning, involving rollbacks and re-dos. Don’t fall into that trap, plan instead.
- Take UC as an opportunity to redesign cumbersome business processes – you won’t enjoy the full benefit of UC if you don’t simultaneously hack away at established ways of operating. After all, UC is about more than just cutting voice costs.
UC brings a lot to the table in terms of cost reduction – the switch away from on-site hardware to cloud-hosted unified communications solutions implies a switch from CAPEX towards OPEX, for example.
However, we’d argue that the biggest cost-saving benefits of UC lie deeper – in the way the power of unified communications can improve costly business processes.
Get in touch with Conn3ct
At Conn3ct we know exactly where the greatest benefits – and the greatest pitfalls of UC lie. Just because UC has potential pitfalls does not mean that you should postpone implementing unified communications – the benefits are simply too significant.
Instead, partner with Conn3ct when rolling out your UC solution – we will ensure you sidestep the hurdles to a successful UC implementation, rapidly stepping into the benefits UC can deliver.
UC challenges are not a reason to wait – your competitors will simply enjoy the transformational effects of UC before you do.