Absolutely not! This myth should have disappeared a long time ago, but vendors with half-baked solutions taint the market for the rest of us, and vendors without a UC solution have an interest in keeping the myth alive.
In the early days of software development, enterprise solutions often required that we completely change the way we worked, and they presented us with confusing interfaces that required difficult to remember codes. Today, however, standard user interfaces with easy-to-access menus and wizards make it far easier to learn new software, and most developers (sadly not all) now understand that even as we work to make business processes more efficient, we have to create software that works for the user, not the other way round.
That's what good unified communications does. It takes tasks that users are already doing using separate tools and makes them easier and faster to perform from a preferred interface or device. Here are just a couple of examples:
- Unified inbox
- Users today check their e-mail inboxes, dial in for voicemail, and walk over to check out the fax machine. With unified communications they simply check their e-mail inbox for all three. Nothing difficult to learn. Click on an item to read or listen. Save it in a folder to make it easy to find. Easily reply or call back. Easily forward to someone else.
- Unified call control
- Today, users have to separate voice communications between their extensions and their cell phones, constantly managing the best way for callers to find them. Unified communications (at least ShoreTel's unified communications) enables users to easily set up different ways to route incoming calls and different voicemail greetings for different situations, such as "in" or "in a meeting" or "out of the office." Then, using the office extension or cell phone, it's easy to select the right answer mode, including call forwarding, and a "find me" option.
- Managing extensions
- System administrators are users too, and unified communications should also make their lives easier. Take adding a new phone extension. With current PBXs, this requires a lengthy and expensive process involving requisitions, calls to a consultant, and scheduling issues. With a well-designed unified communications system, this can be done with a couple of mouse clicks by someone with no technical expertise. Anyone who can use Microsoft Word and Outlook, can also manage the daily operations of their unified communications system!
OK, so it's one thing to say that great new features are easy to use, but is that really true in practice? The proof is in the pudding. At ShoreTel, our customer satisfaction ratings are the highest in the industry for a good reason. We don’t tolerate user frustration. Every feature we add is carefully designed to ensure we are making busy users' lives easier, not adding to their troubles!
John W. Combs