Reflections on UC Expo 2016
In his book The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin says: "Reflection, which defeats the tendency to take the obvious for granted, is what gives experience value."
Here’s why that quote is applicable to Unified Communications at the moment.
A couple of weeks ago, I landed in London to immerse myself in all-things UC at the UC Expo. The event was abuzz with attendees discussing the latest and greatest in the world of cloud communication technology.
Cloud, carriers, convergence – everything was on the table. The vibe was lively and excited. There’s a palpable energy in UC right now, as business technology catches up with the flexibility and choice users have come to expect (and readily have in their personal lives).
The show hosted a variety of stakeholders who live and breathe technology day in and day out. It also featured an equal amount of people who needed to see firsthand how UC is being reinvented for today’s modern worker.
Therein lies the disconnect: UC as we know it is full of buzzwords and empty promises of connecting today’s user with notions of true unification. And while getting user experience right may not be obvious, its inspiration is laid out in front of us, begging to be considered by observing how users interact with technology each day. Reflecting upon its importance – and outlining ways to create better user experiences – is a crucial way to bring value and relevance to unified communications as we know it.
Putting the user first in UC requires commitment and discipline. It cannot be done by acquisition alone. If the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, leaders in the industry need to step up and invest in a user experience that feels as seamless as it sounds.
This is what resonated with me most. Companies need to start delivering on the promise of UC. I for one know there’s a company that’s bringing this to life, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
How can we bring the user experience to the forefront? Keep these considerations in mind:
- Change management. Leaders must be the champions of modern communications, owning the steps leading up to implementation of a new technology, as well as managing it through to widespread adoption. Working with someone who takes your success to heart, customizing your options, and staffing your projects with the greatest care, will be a lifesaver. In order to make sure user experience is at the center of it all, you need strategic and technical leaders who understand the value of seamless employee interaction when compared to the friction associated with a handful of disparate, communication products.
- Designing implementation for success. The devil is in the details. A positive user experience requires nuance. All users need to be accounted for in the design process – internal and external – and options should be plentiful and easy to use in concert. Voice, video, and messaging should be available within one platform, providing the ability to easily move between asynchronous communication and real-time collaboration. This includes device-neutrality. Microsoft’s Mac Skype for Business debacle at UC Expo only further reinforced the importance of prioritizing support for the devices relevant in the modern worker’s day. They tend to view the world through a Microsoft lens which does not mirror the reality of the enterprise. Functionality should never be compromised, regardless of device or location. While many companies, some which have been around for a long time, talk about unification and simplicity at tradeshows and in the media, they are failing to deliver it where it counts – for the user. Companies should prioritize the user and the importance of engagement as well as successful adoption in technology requirements: look for a simple, unified experience that supports the way your employees actually interact. At Fuze, we believe that we have created this with an easy to use, singular app experience that combines voice, video, and messaging for both internal and external communication as well as group collaboration – all available from any device, globally.
- The risks of cutting corners. We hope that UC implementation doesn’t keep IT managers up at night. Our goal is to make the process as easy to embark on as it is easy to benefit from when it’s all said and done. But when companies think about taking the plunge, moving away from existing hardware and legacy solutions, they naturally pause and assess. We understand the risks: you need to realize ROI. Keep in mind that future risks lurking in the shadows hinge upon successful adoption. Because integration demands a positive user experience, we can’t overstate its importance. Security risks associated with Shadow IT shouldn’t plague your business like they might have before, when the tools users want are reflected in your decision to invest in UC.
In the end, UC Expo validated what Fuze is all about: putting the YOU in unified communications. We’re dialed into the needs of the modern CIO, made possible with a clear understanding of what end users need from their communications technology – making it simpler and more secure, so that workers can be more productive and more collaborative.