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The end-user experience of unified communications and collaboration

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Many companies deploy unified communications and collaboration solutions with the overall changes to the business in mind. Cost benefits, productivity, improved customer satisfaction and higher profits are all important aspects of a successful UC strategy. However, for the end-user, or employee, experience is the most important consideration which a business should focus on.

According to Jon Arnold at Unified Communications Strategies, the user's experience with UC should be intuitive and stress-free, but this is rarely the case for any business. Even taking the backbone of an improved communications system, VoIP service, into consideration, it can take employees time to adapt to new features and improved audio quality. Implementing presence, instant messaging, real-time chat and other tools in a call center or other business setting can be overwhelming. Even professionals who use many of these tools at home can be unaccustomed to their business applications.

 

When facing the deployment of a UC strategy, there are many questions a business needs to address concerning the end-user experience. Do users need to use the same devices? What are the basic needs for employees, and what tools will maximize collaboration and communication benefits? These concerns are vital for successful deployment of UC. According to Art Rosenburg at UC Strategies, these questions are also necessary to understand what UC and collaboration mean for the end-user.

 

Addressing the needs of the professional, a business's UC adoption could be less than effective or even fail entirely. Focusing on the needs of just one department, such as IT, could leave sales or customer service employees behind, and focusing on the tools that call center agents need could leave management floundering instead.

 

According to Arnold, the best way to introduce new communications solutions in a business is to start simple. Deploy a hosted PBX system, then ease into other UC tools. Employers also have to remember that most professionals will be familiar with the basics of UC, like instant messaging and presence, from personal use, so these services will be the fastest for workers to pick up. By adding UC layer by layer, a company can not only ensure the cleanest adoption policy, but also balance the tools needed for the job against introducing too complex a system. Layered deployment can ensure that a business does not implement unnecessary services.