Unified Communications Solutions Should Be Tailored to the Workforce

Gary Barton
Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Most UK SMEs believe that improved collaboration tools are a critical part of a successful business.
  • There is a growing demand for collaboration solutions amongst UK SME employees, but personalities in the workplace will affect UCC adoption.

Unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions are gaining critical mass.  I have written previously that businesses may risk ceding the advantage to their competitors if they do not consider adopting UCC technologies.  However, this does not necessarily mean that a blanket rollout is appropriate.  Many providers now offer custom profiles for different types of employees, such as Virgin Media Business’ UC services for ‘desk huggers’ and ‘desk hoppers.’  However, enterprises should keep in mind that employees are not just their job description, but also different people as well.  A survey published jointly by BT and Avaya has highlighted, for example, that there is a generational gap when it comes to adopting and getting the best out of UCC solutions.

The integration of social media into the modern working environment and the necessity of operating a successful BYOD policy have been driven by the first of the Internet and smartphone generations entering the work place.  The rise to prominence of Google has also heightened the desire of technology companies to become ‘exciting’ places to work.  The survey of 500+ IT managers reported that almost two-thirds of employees under 35 were dissatisfied with the technology infrastructure at their place of work, and in the same age group, more than two-thirds felt that improved collaboration solutions would enhance productivity.  However, not all employees embrace the Internet, and an ‘always connected’ environment, as a lifestyle.  The same surveys shows that amongst employees over 35, on average only 40% are dissatisfied with the IT systems at their place of work, and the percentage who felt better sharing tools would be a benefit fell to a more even 53%.  Furthermore, the survey showed that personality plays a huge part in how people will react to UCC tools, with 62% of respondents believing that they should have personal choice over which communications media they use.

What does this mean for the modern enterprise?  It means that companies should expect to have to support a range of communications and collaboration services.  It also underlines that for many in the work place, there will have to be a process of education.  As ever, there is always a balance to be struck between prescriptive corporate policies and keeping employees happy.  UCC-as-a-service can help, as it lets enterprises allow their employees to be more selective about which UCC tools they use.  If a group of employees is not likely to respond well to a particular service, it can be turned off for those users; therefore, the enterprise is not paying for an unused service.  SMEs should also note that the survey found as the economic recovery in the UK takes hold, 60% of SMEs expect to expand during 2014, and 78% of respondents highlighted improved communications as a key part of creating a more successful business.  These numbers underline that SMEs should be having discussions about how to take advantage of UCC – and the same is also true for larger enterprises.

For more details on the survey, click here.

For Current Analysis’ view on UCC solutions from UK providers, click here.

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