AT&T Helps Drive User Adoption for UCC
As readers of my articles and blogs know, I’ve been very focused on the importance of user adoption, and believe that the key to success of any UCC deployment is directly related to end user adoption. I’ve been speaking with many UCC vendors, SIs, and VARs about ways in which they’re helping their customers increase adoption, and recently I had the chance to speak with AT&T Consulting about what they’re seeing and the types of services they provide to their customers.
As we all know, businesses today have many challenges when it comes to optimizing their business communications and collaboration effectiveness. There are too many tools that may not be as intuitive or easy to use as they should be, and these tools don’t always work well together and are not seamlessly integrated. In addition, end users may not be aware of how to properly use these technologies and don’t recognize their value and how they can help the workers be more productive and effective. Workers often end up bringing in and using technologies that they use in their personal lives but are not sanctioned by the business and don’t integrate with the technologies and application that the business uses, which can cause many problems for the IT department. Unless workers see the value of their business UCC tools and technologies, and understand how to use them, these solutions will go unused and underutilized, and the businesses will not get a proper return on their investment.
To help combat this, organizations like AT&T Consulting have developed tools and programs to help enterprises improve user adoption in order to get more out of their UCC investments. While these tools and services aren’t free, they’re well worth the investment in order to get more value from a UCC deployment.
There are several aspects to increasing adoption of UCC solutions, including end user training, aligning the UCC solution with the business’ goals, and understanding and accepting the business transformation brought on by the new UC solution. The design of the solution must be done with end user adoption in mind. Adoption will be low if:
- The solution is not solving a problem or having a business impact
- No one knows about the new solution, its capabilities, and why it’s being deployed
- People are not trained how to use it.
AT&T offers a variety of UCC solutions from various vendors, including AT&T UCC Voice with Cisco Jabber, Microsoft Lync Hosted and Managed by AT&T, and AT&T Mobile Office Suite. In order for its customers to enhance the benefit they get from these solutions, AT&T Consulting provides a variety of tools and programs from pre-planning to post deployment, including:
- Up-front planning before implementation, including user segmentation and profiling, training and ensuring that appropriate IT Service Management (ITSM) people, processes and tools are addressed.
- Execution of the deployment, including pre-migration communications, user support immediately following the implementation and “office hours” for non-urgent user issues or questions.
- Back-end support and monitoring, including platform telemetry and user satisfaction surveys, as well as integration with the organization’s business processes and applications.
It’s important to plan your user adoption strategy early on. While design sessions are often all about technology, there should be equal time spent on user adoption planning and strategy. For example, AT&T has developed the Rapid Adoption Marketing Program, a set of “non-branded assets that will help customers to inform, inspire and educate their organization’s users about the transformational changes the company is going through.” I’ve long believed that UCC isn’t just about the technology – it’s about transforming the way an organization communicates and collaborates internally and externally, interacts with customers, and the way in which work gets done in order to meet business goals. Understanding the transformational changes that UCC brings is an important aspect of user adoption.
An important best practice is to establish clear business objectives to be achieved by adopting UCC, and identify how they would be measured. Business objectives may include reduced time to market, shorter sales cycles, shorter product development time, or better customer service and satisfaction. Having an executive sponsor for these initiatives who can publish the successes back to the target adoption community can be very helpful, and should be part of the initial planning. As part of the end users training, these goals and objectives need to be articulated, emphasizing the value of the UCC solution and how it will help the users be more effective and help the organization meet its business goals. Additionally, it’s helpful when organizations segment or profile users based on how they work (are they mobile or deskbound, do the need to work collaboratively or individually, etc.) UCC training should take these different roles and profiles into account, and help users understand how the UCC solution will help support the business initiatives and business goals.
AT&T Consulting looks at organizational change management and how UCC impacts people and processes. This involves acting as trusted advisor and working with a company’s teams and individuals in order to identify their business goals and desired outcomes.
Case in point, AT&T Consulting recently worked with a large railway provider that wanted to be able to reach and involve experts in near real time in case of an emergency or accident in order to figure out the triage and emergency response. They worked together to determine ways to do this, such as integrating the railway company’s contact center with UCC capabilities such as IM and presence to quickly identify and reach experts.
Before deploying any technology, it’s important to work with the customer on the front end to understand their business drivers and desired business outcomes. The business goals must be aligned with the UCC solution, and the end users must understand not only how to use the UCC capabilities (which is part of end user training), but why – why these solutions will help improve productivity and the way in which work gets done.
A big part of increasing user adoption is communicating with the various user groups about what they’re trying to accomplish before designing and deploying any kind of UCC solution. As Eric Sineath, Chief Architect and UC Practice Director with AT&T Consulting points out: “Early engagement and the ability to get in front of the customer and get insights into their unstated needs is crucial. Some customers may not recognize that a holistic UCC strategy is to their benefit, and they often need to help understanding how mobility, multiple workstreams, and business transformation work together. If we can ask probing questions, it’s ideal.” Sineath added: “What’s most important is early engagement. It’s better to engage early and assist the customer with developing their UC transformation strategy rather than simply responding to an RFP.”
As an example, AT&T Consulting held a workshop for a defense contractor that brought together a dozen of the stakeholders in a room and it was the first time many of these individuals had talked to each other one on one. They discovered that many of them were making independent decisions instead of working together. By driving consensus across IT and involving the line of business individuals in the upfront planning, they were able to develop a more cohesive solution that everyone would be happy with.
As mentioned earlier, adoption will be low if the users don’t know about the new solution being deployed, and getting users excited about the new UCC solution is another aspect of driving adoption. To that end, AT&T has put together a User Adoption Communications Toolkit. Described as a "Campaign in a box," the AT&T UCC Services user adoption toolkit includes a full range of communications tools that can be deployed in a pre, launch and post launch environment.
Designed to inform users about the UCC solution, the kit contains:
- Digital user guides
- Customizable emails to send to workers informing them about the transition to the new UCC solution
- Copy blocks for extending the campaign messaging to other education and adoption activities - i.e. company intranet, internal blogs etc.
- Online web banners to promote useful information
- Videos to highlight some of the challenges that the UCC implementation can overcome
- Microsite splash page – interface page for the organization’s UCC portal
An important aspect of end user adoption is being able to measure adoption and identify what functions or capabilities are being used, and what’s not being used. For its Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business practice, AT&T Consulting uses tools from leading vendors to generate, collect, and collate surveys asking users questions such as: what tools do you use, did you use audio conferencing today and did you have any problems. This provides them with firsthand voice of the customer information that can be correlated with Lync management tools.
Businesses moving to UCC need to encourage e end user adoption and that workers are using the tools the UCC solution provides in order to get their desired return on investment. There are many vendors and solution providers offering UCC products and services, and it’s important to choose one that looks beyond just the technology. Working with a partner that has the tools and methodology for helping organizations increase user adoption is just as important as the UCC solution itself.
This paper is sponsored by AT&T.