For the past few posts, I’ve been exploring examples of out-of-the-box thinking for UC, and hopefully this is triggering new types of dialog for what this might look like inside your organization. UC’s amorphous nature is both a blessing and a curse, but if you buy into its basic premise, I encourage you to view this as a blank canvas that can truly speaks to your needs.
After all, everyone wants improved productivity, and chances are that your interest in UC is coming from management demanding as such. They understand how this can drive competitive advantage, and if that’s the product promise they’re seeing in UC, then UC may well be at the top of your agenda now.
The more clearly the opportunity around UC becomes framed, the more precise the expectations will be. To the extent this is happening in your company, you need a plan to ensure UC delivers. There no doubt will be deployment scenarios where UC expectations are unclear, but that isn’t our focus here. I’m more concerned with situations where the bar is set higher – while the challenges are greater, so are the payoffs, and that’s how you make UC a strategic investment for the business.
So, how do you do that?
The theme of this series is thinking outside the box, and that’s the high level answer to this question. If you take the path of least resistance and just do what the vendor says, you’ll do no better than the mean. You’ll get decent productivity gains, but really no more or no less than your competitors. While the Internet democratizes information by making it more accessible, it also leads to a lot of conformity in how people do things. As such, doing what everyone else does only ensures the status quo, and I’m sure you want more than that.
You probably didn’t sign up for being a breakthrough thinker, but you need a bit of that to really get the most from UC. Regular readers of my column will know that the heart of the issue here is driving adoption among end users. All vendors can provide perfectly capable UC solutions – there will be varying degrees of technical hurdles along the way, but their offerings are mature enough to enable the productivity gains you’ll be looking for.
As such, instead of focusing on the technology behind UC, I would shift attention to the desired behaviors needed to achieve the desired outcomes. If your employees are trending to a younger demographic, then you need to find ways for UC to resonate with them. Much has been written about the nature of Millennials, and if you’re not following this now, I’m sure you will be soon. This generation has a very different frame of reference for using technology than older generations, and time is certainly on their side.
In this context, thinking outside the box means introducing UC to employees on their terms, not yours. This is a demographic that is comfortable with new technology, and has high expectations about being user-driven and personalized. UC can do all these things, and it’s just a matter of how you present it to them. There is no magic formula to follow, but here are three ideas to consider:
1. Make it “their UC” There are many ways for end users to personalize their UC experience, and by showing them how easy this is to do, the more they’ll feel like it’s their UC. Remember, they don’t need UC to do their job, but you need them to embrace it. You won’t win them over if they feel UC is being imposed, and personalization is a great way to make it feel user-centric. This means you have to loosen the reins a bit and give them more control over their experience, but you may find this easier to do than expected.
2. Gamify the use of UC Millennials tend to be avid gamers, so they should be quite receptive to any such efforts. You’ll need some creative energy to do this, and that might involve hiring some 20-something developers, but the cost shouldn’t be prohibitive. Not only do you need end users to adopt UC, but you want that to happen quickly, otherwise management will start second-guessing this decision. Thinking out of the box here means focusing on the outcome, not the process. You don’t need to know how to gamify UC – that’s what developers are for – you need to recognize first if this path is going to produce that outcome.
3. Make it fun Ultimately, that’s what I’m getting at in this post. My last post talked about making UC social, and that’s one way to inject some fun into the mix. Gamification is another form of fun, but there are other things you can do that will get people using UC without even realizing it. The key is to focus on things they enjoy doing, but in a way that involves UC applications. This could be along the lines of an Ice Bucket Challenge, where you engage employees across multiple media modes that involve everyone. Remember that Millennials are already using UC-friendly applications in personal settings, and these are often recreational, so they know how to have fun with the same tools you’re trying to get them using at work. You definitely need some creative thinking here, but the effort will almost certainly yield better results than presenting UC as a strictly business platform with no room for fun.