No matter how you define – or even just understand risk, you know it’s something you want to mitigate. As noted over the past few posts, you can’t totally eliminate risk related to UC, so your best bet is to first try to understand it as best as possible. For each type of risk, the next step is to somehow assess the potential impact, and that will help you prioritize an overall action plan. Some forms of risk are easier to live with than others, so you’ll have to make some choices based on what’s best for the business overall.
The rational approach would be to focus on how to minimize negative outcomes if your UC deployment does not go to plan. That alone should provide plenty of motivation to think through what could go wrong and then try to anticipate how things might unfold.
If you’re in IT, you probably didn’t sign up for that, but since there’s a lot riding on UC, what choice do you have? In principal, you know what UC can deliver, and if the deployment goes well, everyone is happy and IT gets a lot of kudos. There are a lot of “ifs” for all that to happen, and nowhere will the unknowns be greater than with post-deployment risk. Based on the last couple of posts in this series, you should know what post-deployment entails – and if not, this would be a good time to back-track a bit.
Another way to look at risk
Moving forward, now let’s shift from general aspects of risk to UC-related specifics. I’ve already covered some detailed examples of what could transpire if things don’t go well. These are the negative outcomes, and represent the downside elements of risk that you want to minimize. While this is self-evident, there is another, perhaps counterintuitive aspect of risk to consider.
Risk inherently implies outcomes you prefer to avoid, and by definition, the opposite should hold as well. In other words, avoiding risk – or minimizing its impact – is a desirable outcome, and the associated upside can serve as another driver for how you plan for UC.
Another way to look at this is the conventional obverse of risk – reward, but this isn’t quite the same thing. Reward, of course, is also a desirable outcome, but quite different from the upside I’m talking about here. In the risk-reward dynamic, you have to take risk to gain reward. My focus is on avoiding risk, and by doing so, you can also gain reward, but in a different way. In other words, by taking a positive view of UC deployment, there is a lot of upside to be had from managing risk effectively. In terms of having an organization-wide impact, this is where post-deployment risk carries a lot of weight. To illustrate, here are two examples.
Post-deployment upside #1 – IT’s relationship with employees
More often than not, the expectation for UC is a bumpy deployment with ineffective employee engagement. If new applications don’t “just work”, then the risk of not adopting UC can skyrocket, and this will make your odds of success much longer. Not only that, but IT’s stock among employees will drop, and it will become harder to get their attention to make things right.
This is not what any IT department wants, so another way to approach things is to imagine how much better the opposite scenario would be. By ensuring a smooth implementation, along with a thoughtful program to introduce UC to employees, IT can now nurture the employee relationship from a position of strength. Now think about the upside that’s possible when UC becomes something employees actually want, and how they’ll view IT as a valued resource for getting the most out of these new capabilities.
Post-deployment upside #2 – better ROI on communications technology
The business case for UC will remain difficult to quantify, so there’s upside for anything that can address this. Conversely, a poor UC implementation will create post-deployment risk, making it even harder to generate ROI-friendly metrics.
In whatever way IT is able to mitigate that risk, there is definitely ROI upside. The faster employees engage with UC applications – and perhaps with some help from IT – the more productive they’ll become. They may not yet know that UC can have additive benefits – after all, you’re trying to show them a new and better way of working.
First, they can use the standalone applications more effectively in an integrated environment, but then they can also combine them in ways not otherwise possible. Then, by tying these applications into business processes, employees can leverage their efforts more deeply throughout the business.
Since all of this is possible with UC, when you get it right, they get it right. You won’t need to keep adding new tools or trying different technologies, and by extension, you’ll get a faster ROI on the UC solution you just implemented.
This closes out my look at internal risk among employees. I’ve analyzed risk from three stations along the deployment spectrum- pre-deployment, implementation and post-deployment. Beyond this, however, is the world of external risk, namely with your customers, suppliers and partners. You may think of UC as being a tool for internal communications, but it goes outside your four walls, and there is risk to consider here as well. That’s where I’ll pick things up in my next post, and I hope you’ll join me there.