Unified communications applications promise a number of benefits, but it’s unlikely these will be realised fully unless careful consideration is given to the cultural, business and technology aspects of the organisation.
An IT department can integrate and roll out UC, but ensuring end users actively adopt the new ways of working is another matter.
In contrast, end user demands for mobile and flexible working may well present a strong case for unifying communication across devices and locations, but the IT and network infrastructure must be set up to support this.
It’s also likely that little will be achieved without the agreement of senior decision makers, who typically hold the strings of the budget purse and must be convinced of any enterprise-wide changes that could impact the overall culture of the organisation.
Over a quarter (27%) of businesses are currently planning to roll out UC applications, but just how ready are they to embrace this change? We explored their readiness for UC in relation to three critical aspects: end user adoption; buy-in from senior decision makers; and the approach of the IT department.
Much has been written about the increasing demands for mobile and flexible working. In the Mitel whitepaper ‘Work 3.0, the next generation model for smarter business’ we revealed the demand for more flexible hours and work spaces with less reliance on a central office location, and how today’s younger workforce is embracing online and virtualised working.
Based on its predictions, MZA believes that trends in the consumer market will continue to impact what is developed for the enterprise unified communications applications sector.
In addition, almost half (49%) of IT managers want to use UC to improve employee productivity and 24% see it as their chance to offer staff a more flexible working environment. However, are employees really ready for these changes?
It appears that in some aspects, organisational cultures are conducive.
Flexible working practices are common, with 50% of end users already used to working from multiple locations, using different devices. Over three quarters (77%) also have access to the range of applications typically integrated within a unified communications platform, as Figure 1 shows.
IT departments are also providing employees with a range of communication tools and businesses are allowing employees to work outside of the typical office environment, using a range of smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that end users are ready to embrace a UC environment, nor are they making full use of all the applications available to them. For example, two in five IT decision makers admit they do not think their employees are literate in IT and using technology.
Ease of use enabled by an intuitive user experience that is consistent, regardless of device, will be key to ensuring end user adoption and use of these technologies. Training and employee engagement is a critical step to overcoming this, but it appears only 19% of IT managers planning a UC roll out have considered this aspect.
UC will work to best effect when everyone in the business is communicating and collaborating from a single platform, in the same way. Users need to be confident with new communication applications and actively encouraged to embrace the cultural changes that UC will initiate.