My last post set things off in a new direction when it comes to out of the box thinking with UC, and there’s more to be said on the topic. As I’ve noted many times, UC is a moving target for everyone, and I can’t think of a better scenario to try different things in order to drive adoption. By now you should know that buying UC is the easy part, and to some degree this also holds for deploying it. The real challenge comes from getting employees to embrace it. They have no economic stake in UC, and unless usage is dictated by management, IT somehow needs to get them engaged.
UC is not like your IP PBX, where all you have to do is put IP phones on the desk, and employees will take it from there. This is not a passive deployment where employees use the technology regardless of what IT does. Furthermore, with standalone applications like VoIP, it doesn’t matter whether employees use it a little or a lot. There is no incentive for employees to increase usage, since the cost savings filter down to the business and not their personal phone bills. Also, there are no accretive benefits when adoption scales across the organization – VoIP is equally effective whether 10% or 100% of employees make use of it.
The realities for UC are fundamentally different in that the network effect is very much in play here. As more people use UC – and as they use more applications within the UC framework – the productivity benefits scale accordingly. Not only does each employee’s productivity rise as they become immersed in UC, but invariably the same happens for the teams they are attached to, and ultimately, all of this will make for a more productive organization. Little things can quickly add up to big things, and that’s why driving adoption from the outset is so important, especially if you’re trying to make UC a strategic investment for the business.
How do you make something from nothing?
This is a classic Yiddish saying where you take scraps that nobody wants and then turn them into something special. UC can be like that, but you get the best results when people figure things out on their own terms. However, the challenge here is that not everyone is a tailor, and they won’t know what to do with UC when put before them.
I touched on this is my last post in the sense that IT will get the best results with UC among the employees they trust the most. To some extent this is a generational issue, where younger employees will be more receptive to trying new things, and have a better native understanding of innovations like UC. When you have people like that, the conditions are right to introduce a bit of an experiment.
If earlier efforts or ideas about encouraging UC adoption have not taken root, it’s time to try something different. This brings us to the option of doing nothing, which might seem antithetical to everything you’ve believed to this point. Well, it may not be as far-fetched as you’d think, so consider the following.
The do-nothing approach can be effective presuming the UC solution comes as advertised. In other words, it has to work the way it’s supposed to work and the features are really easy to use. On top of this, the outcomes from using those features should be evident to the end user right away. If you have that, then here’s a plan to consider if all else has failed. Try to identify the “early adopter” types as per my comment above and form a beta group with them. Then, deploy UC among them – but don’t tell them about it.
Part of being a tech-savvy person means having a natural intellectual curiosity about trying new things, and this type of person will quickly discover the virtues of UC without any help. Not only that, but they will be more likely to explore UC pretty thoroughly and push the envelope to see what it can do. When technology is easy to use and the utility is obvious, end users feel a sense of ownership when figuring things out on their own. That’s not all – it actually gets better because these people will like embrace the Internet ethos of sharing, and without any help, they’ll try to make it go viral.
Of course, I’m describing an idyllic scenario, but I have seen a few examples recently in my research where this is exactly what happens. The conditions need to be right, and it all comes down to trust. You have to trust that your UC solution really works as advertised, and you must also know which employees you can trust to leave on their own to discover UC for themselves.
When you have both, you’ll be surprised how much you can get from doing nothing. Conversely, doing nothing with the wrong type of end users is a recipe for failure, so you have to be selective in planning this out. This approach won’t work with everyone, but I think you’ll agree that if nothing else is working with UC, you’re better off having a small clutch of self-motivated users – who could easily become evangelists for everyone else – then having everyone doing next to nothing with it. Something is always better than nothing, especially when you make it from doing nothing.