This list is in the spirit of “you might be XYZ if….”, and based on what I see in the market, you should recognize the clues pretty quickly. Some signs will be easier to spot than others, and depends largely on how broad a view you take across your organization and beyond.
A conventional IT perspective will be network-centric, which is really too narrow to properly assess the need for UC. Conversely, an IP-based view will take a wider range of stakeholders into account, which is more aligned with the realities of UC. To illustrate, consider the following list of clues.
1. Nobody is using their desk phones
There are many reasons this could be happening, and even if you just observe employee behavior, this clue will be easy to pick up. The desk phone may still have utility, but you may notice that it’s not ringing like it used to – yet employees seem to be productive. That’s a sure sign they’re finding other ways to communicate, but you’re not sure of what, why or how.
2. Voicemail boxes are full and/or not getting cleared out
This is something you can definitely monitor, and reinforces the above trend. If those boxes are filling up, that means people are wasting time trying to get in touch, and that’s particularly worrisome when those are customers calling. When messages aren’t getting cleared, you’ve got a bigger problem which points to the need for UC. Aside from the wasted time, this likely means employees don’t even bother listening to messages since they’ve since found other/better ways of getting in touch.
3. Employees relying on mobile devices for everything
This needs little explanation, and all businesses are trying to cope with the shift to mobility. When this becomes a BYOD situation, IT has to concede some network control to keep employees happy. After all, when businesses expect high availability from employees, BYOD is one way to make this a fair trade. However, if employees have free reign here, mobility may not be doing the business any favors. In that case, UC may be your best move to re-gain some of that lost control.
4. Email messages are getting shorter
You may not have visibility on a personal level, but IT will have its share of email dialog with employees. If email messages are generally getter shorter – or less frequent – this may reflect new habits for text-based communication coming from messaging and social media. This clue is on the subtle side, but may tell you that employees are relying more on these short-form modes, which tend to reside outside your everyday realm – but well within the UC envelope.
5. You have no idea what employees are doing online
This is an extension of the above clues, and speaks loudly on its own. IT has been losing control over how employees consume network resources for some time, and this will only continue with BYOD and WiFi. There are now many paths for employees to work off-net, especially when home-based or on the road, and decentralization remains a growing trend. Tech-savvy consumers know how to access all types of applications on demand, many of which have utility at work and are out of scope for IT. When deployed effectively, UC mitigates this problem and helps IT to better manage the network.
6. Employees know what UC is
This may not seem intuitive, but remember, UC is a vendor-coined term, targeted at IT, not end users. While this is the norm for technology, UC is different since success depends on end user adoption. Most tech offerings are meant for and used by IT, and are generally transparent to end users. If employees start talking about UC, they definitely know what it is, making the time right for deployment. You may be coming to them after the fact, but if they’re ready for it, your chances of quick adoption will be pretty good.
7. Management is asking about UC
Getting clues from the bottom-up is one thing, but the urgency will be even greater when it’s top-down. In fact, this will probably be IT’s strongest clue, and your job security may well depend on it. Hopefully, if management brings UC up, you’ve already been researching it and won’t be caught off-guard. In that case, you could be opportunistic and make them feel it was their idea – which could serve IT well if the deployment is effective. If you’re the last to hear about UC, however, it might be time to do something else.
8. Customer satisfaction is declining
This may be a difficult link to establish, but ineffective communication will certainly drive such a result. Not all companies that measure customer satisfaction have contact centers, so this problem could just as well be coming from anywhere in your organization. You may need to be creative here, but if IT can identify chronic problems in this flow of communications, it’s quite likely that UC can reverse the trend.
9. Company is spending a fortune on conferencing
By now, you’ve probably realized some nice cost savings with VoIP, but you may still be using conventional conferencing services. If that spending has been going up or staying high, this is an ideal point of entry for the UC discussion. Chances are you’re spending more than needed on conferencing, and you probably don’t have a way to assess how productive these calls actually are. Whatever you’re doing now, UC should absolutely help employees get more done on conference calls, plus at a lower cost.
10. UC vendors have been saying these things all along
This is the “I told you so” moment, where vendor messaging about UC sounds less like a sales pitch and more like a thoughtful solution to problems you didn’t fully understand. Any and all of the above clues should take you to that conclusion, but until now you just weren’t ready to listen. After all, UC doesn’t address a tangible, glaring problem, and vendors have struggled with this all along. UC’s value proposition is difficult to articulate, but when you “get it”, the benefits are obvious. I’m not telling you to run out and buy the first UC offering you come across, but rather to say that vendors may actually understand where these technologies bring business value better than you, and that the time is now right to move forward.