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IT and users of technology: Let the courting commence! (Or why the success of an IT project can no longer be judged by coming in under budget)

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It’s been an interesting saga if you’re an IT professional.

When the Internet blew up, IT became incredibly important. CEOs had no time for this but yet knew they needed technology to compete. IT had carte blanche for a little while to add “.com” to everything. Then, the recession happened but technology got even MORE important. IT now had to justify every single spend but could not stop spending if their company was to remain competitive. Just get it in and get it in under budget.

But we forgot about an important group along the way – the actual users of the technology. Complaints or questions about technology (unless from an executive) were usually treated by IT as an annoyance. I got it installed it’s not my fault you don’t know how to use it.

But the user revolution has commenced!  

Top talent is hard to come by and getting more technologically savvy every day. They use Facebook and LinkedIn to research what tools your company provides BEFORE they take the job! You not only have to be responsive to everyone’s needs, but you may even have to use the devices they want to use! Selfishly, your bonus is being judged not by “did the project complete on time?” and no one complained, but did the project have a true impact on the business? (People, process and technology.)

Gone are the days of a few travelling salespeople or executives. Everybody is a mobile worker. And you need to supply the same tools for everybody whether they are at corporate, a remote or home office, or Starbucks. Heck, even some executive teams don’t even sit in the same home office anymore!

The unified communications industry is really seeing this shift. I have met hundreds of IT managers who installed a complex system but didn’t deploy the most powerful features (like Mobility) because it was too hard-to install and use! “I have the licenses but…” is a common refrain.

And these features are not just bells and whistles. One of my favorite compliments about ShoreTel from a CIO was that the remote workers, who used the most ShoreTel tools, made the company the most money! We help you affect the big lines on the P&L statement (revenue, marketing, real estate, just to name a few.)

So how do you manage user needs with corporate control? Carefully! J

As an example, employees may want to user their personal smart phone as their only phone. You love cell phones but you know it’s important for your company’s brand that employees not give out their cell phone number to everyone (there is corporate equity in the these numbers after all). ShoreTel UC lets your users give out a company phone number, which can still be reached on a smart phone. But if they leave…..

There are tough questions to ask when you are evaluating whether you should move to a unified communication solution. But some of the questions are not what you would think. What is the company’s Net Promoter Score (customer satisfaction)? What is their rate of user adoption for features?

Without these answers, you may just end up buying the newest VCR when you could have had a DVR.