Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration – What Our FOX GROUP Clients are Saying

Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration – What Our FOX GROUP Clients are Saying

By Roberta J. Fox March 17, 2017 3 Comments
Roberta Fox PNG
Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration – What Our FOX GROUP Clients are Saying by Roberta J. Fox

As part of the UCStrategies Experts team, I was recently asked to provide my thoughts related to what our customers are saying about the future of UC and collaboration (listen to our podcast on the topic).

Marty Parker and Don Van Doren have developed user profiles which identify how people work together. We have also developed our own UC/Collaboration profiles within FOX GROUP Technology. This enables us to develop the effective strategy, and business and technical requirements to help our clients acquire next generation technology solutions.   

I thought I would also add comments from our latest updated benchmarking analysis of collaboration requirements as it applies to telework, remote and mobile workers in the health care, government and first responders. 

What our Clients are Saying About the Future of UC and Collaboration

Our clients’ comments roll up into three major areas. Here are the issues/challenges and expectations that is holding them back from investing in next generation collaboration technologies:

No. 1 - Show Us

  • As technology manufacturers, show us how you use the tools you sell to help improve your own business. 
  • Show us how you design, deploy and manage these technologies and what have been the changes your organization has had to adapt to.
  • Show us the financial investments and benefits to get the required investment that is trackable and defendable over the length of the business case.

No. 2 - Teach Us

  • Teach us how to effectively use these tools for the various UC profiles, and also how to use them across all employee demographics, including age, gender, culture and technology comfort level.
  • Teach us how to manage the diverse applications, systems and devices, and also how to adapt as they continue to change and evolve.

No. 3 - Help Us Adapt and Continue to Evolve

  • Work beside us as a technology vendor and tell us how and when you think we should change the technology, training and skills required for both the end users, IT and business support services.

Getting More of Our Clients’ Wallet Share + Faster

You heard some of my UC peers stated with their comments that most users should be able to adapt to using the many different collaboration applications, since it is not that hard. It is “as easy as using the internet,” as one of my peers stated.  

As a tech savvy professional who has learned how, and is comfortable using many different UC/apps* on a daily basis (see list below), from working with our distributed clients of various levels of technology comfort and sophistication, I also think it is now an easy process for most users to find out what they need to know, and when they need to know it. In fact, the luxury of learning everything you might need to know before you actually need it is now an incredible waste of time, due to the constant and rapid “improvements” being made to applications and processes. 
Just-in-time learning and quick adoption of ever-changing applications and processes is a serious advantage in today’s workforce.

In analyzing the reasons why some, but not all my folks and myself can do this is our combination of technology skills, social skills and multi-modal communications capabilities. 
Believe it or not, some of us have, and use, our right brain capabilities, such as our interest in music, the arts including theatre and Second City improv facilitation skills to successfully use the many applications.  Go figure! 

If you think about it, there are not that many people of the total workforce who have this combination of skills. In my own companies, not everyone is comfortable, willing or able to adapt and willing to use all the tools that are available within our corporate environment.

Our Summary of the Future of Collaboration

Manufacturers and channel partners will need to not only provide the technical services and support identified earlier in my comments… 
More important for the long-term success in getting wallet share of our clients, the industry must be able to bring human capital development and training capabilities to help organizations to successfully enable their workforce to develop the ability to use these many applications to successfully deploy collaboration solutions.

My guidance is to take heed of our FOX GROUP feedback and our client comments and shift your thinking to also include the “soft factors” that clients are asking for, and then the tech industry will be able to grow revenue and market share in UC and collaboration solutions. 

Organizations will then be able to design, deploy and successfully manage these next generation collaboration solutions.  

We welcome your thoughts, comments and feedback.

*The FOX GROUP unified communication and collaboration applications used within the practice on a regular basis in working with clients includes:

  • Desktop Collaboration – Avaya Radvision, Avaya Zang, Cisco WebEx, Cisco Spark, Citrix GoToMeeting, Google+, Google G Suite, Microsoft Skype for Business, Vidyo, Zoom
  • Document Sharing/Storage - Apple iCloud, Avaya Zang, Citrix ShareFile, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft SharePoint
  • Messaging – Facebook Messenger, Google Messenger, Microsoft Skype for Business
  • Video Communications – Apple Facetime, Facebook Click to Video, Google +, Vimeo
  • Voice Communications – Cell Phone, Microsoft Skype for Business, Microsoft Skype, Facebook click to call
 

3 Responses to "Future of Unified Communications and Collaboration – What Our FOX GROUP Clients are Saying" - Add Yours

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Michael Finneran 3/17/2017 5:05:27 PM

Wow! I use a bunch of these tools, but my list is nowhere near as long as that (I seem to gravitate from one to the next as I work on different projects with different collaborators). However, I don't seem to retain a working familiarity with any that I have been away from for too long, Also different ones suck at different functions.

Training: if an organization is going to be using multiple platforms, I think the user training is going to have to be developed internally. Also, if the requirement is for a user to attend 8 different sessions for the 8 different platforms in use, the only ones showing up are wash-outs from the alcohol rehabilitation program.

I recognize the advantage these team collaboration platforms have to offer (less email, persistent chat, document/work product management, etc.), but they all seem to overlook the core challenge which is getting people to change the way they do their jobs.

I think people can and will make that change (at least younger people), but getting all of these "free thinkers" to change to the same thing?

Microsoft clearly has the inside track based on its prevalence in enterprises (and the army of us small guys who use O365), but Microsoft even is trailing the pack in deploying new ideas (or making stuff work before the third release- nothing new there).

Cisco's got the hardware expertise, but Microsoft owns the app world. Spark Board is cool, but this is a software environment.

Slack and HipChat are winning the popular vote, but their user base is dominated by technical types who think an Apple Watch is a "fashion statement" (it is, but the wrong one)- wait a second, they're into Android Gear, the "wearables" equivalent to the plastic pocket protector.

Bottom line, I think this choice is going to be made at the department level, and we will be growing from the IT/software development world outward.

For the general population, my bet is still on Apple
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Alan MacLeod 3/20/2017 8:34:48 AM

Its interesting to consider that huge list of comms and collab applications. As each platform unifies, it becomes more of an island - may be we should rename this industry as Fragmented Unified Communications and Collaboration - but we'll need to be careful crafting a new acronym and hashtag.

In all seriousness, the abandoning of interoperability as a reasonable goal and making it the users responsibility to use whatever UC client is need for this call is more than inadequate.

Adoption is driven by easy, not technology, and the easiest is what I'm familiar with - so why aren't the infrastructure/platform vendors focused on making their platform work fantastically with my client(s) of choice - whatever those clients? That would be a platform that I would back to win - and then the choice is at the individual, who can only blame and thank themselves!
Gravatar
Alan MacLeod 3/20/2017 11:27:19 AM

Its interesting to consider that huge list of comms and collab applications. As each platform unifies, it becomes more of an island - may be we should rename this industry as Fragmented Unified Communications and Collaboration - but we'll need to be careful crafting a new acronym and hashtag.

In all seriousness, the abandoning of interoperability as a reasonable goal and making it the users responsibility to use whatever UC client is need for this call is more than inadequate.

Adoption is driven by easy, not technology, and the easiest is what I'm familiar with - so why aren't the infrastructure/platform vendors focused on making their platform work fantastically with my client(s) of choice - whatever those clients? That would be a platform that I would back to win - and then the choice is at the individual, who can only blame and thank themselves!

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