UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS

  • 01/26/2015
    10:08 AM
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Crafting Effective UC Training

Getting the most out of your UC investment requires a usage and adoption program that teaches employees not only how to use the communication tools, but also the benefits.

If you're like most people, you've probably collected birthday, wedding, or holiday gifts over the years that were duds -- the kitchen gadget that's sitting in a drawer, untouched, or the e-reader that lost its luster after the first book. These unused or forgotten gifts that clutter our shelves and basements are a lot like businesses' unified communications tools.

Despite companies' investment in new conferencing and collaboration technologies (with the best of intentions), many of these resources go unused by the employees they were intended to support. However, there are steps that business and IT leaders can take to salvage their UC investments and jump-start user adoption. UC training -- or rather a usage and adoption program -- can make all the difference when thoughtfully planned and executed, 

Flawed UC deployments
Softchoice conducted a study to understand how businesses roll out new communication tools. The most glaring problem we found was the lack of end-user input before, during, and after new technologies were deployed. As a result, companies suffer major gaps between the tools they provide and those employees actually use.

While businesses are buying into emerging communication technologies (e.g. video conferencing and social collaboration apps), these are the tools employees are least likely to use on a regular basis. Further, 71% of employees say that they only use half of any given communication tool's features.

One of the main contributors to these sorry figures is the lack of education. One-third of employees don't receive any training when a new communication tool is rolled out. Of those employees that do, half go through less than 30 minutes of training.

In order to see the full return on their UC investments, organizations need to do a lot more than plug their new tools. Companies that prioritize thorough usage and adoption programs, which teach employees not just how to use new tools, but why they should use them, are more likely to enjoy higher adoption and happier staff.

Curriculum development
No effective usage and adoption program is built in a day. Developing the right UC training delivery methods should be as strategic as the communication tool rollout itself. Here are three points organizations should keep in mind as they flesh out their curriculum. 

1. Learn from the Lazy User Model. Persuading employees to switch from their trusted instant messaging platform in favor of something new and foreign is a behavioral issue more so than a technological one. Getting employees to alter their communication habits takes time, and a bit of psychology. The Lazy User Model (LUM) theory of tech selection offers some valuable insight into how to train end-users.

According to LUM, when end-users are presented with different solutions to fulfill a particular need, they select the option that satisfies that need with the lowest level of effort. From a training perspective, businesses have to understand how adoption is born, and LUM offers critical insight. When educating employees about a new tool, it's not enough to explain how it works. Whoever administers the training must convey why it will make employees' lives easier, less stressful, and more productive.

What problems does the new collaboration investment solve for end users? What extra effort does it eliminate? Answering these questions will satisfy employees' "What's in it for me?" mentality.

2. One size won't fit all. At some point in grade school, we all took a quiz to determine what type of learner we were: audio, visual, or tactile. No two people absorb information, especially technical information, quite the same way. Companies that stick to one training delivery method may unintentionally exclude many of their employees.

A successful usage and adoption program offers the curriculum in multiple formats, from in-person group sessions to one-on-one desk meetings, or even digital FAQs on the corporate intranet. When applicable, customize the training per job function or department. Marketing may have different use-cases for a new collaboration tool than finance or operations.

3. Measure, and then measure some more. Proving the success of any technology rollout or training initiative starts with numbers. During the early days of a UC deployment, organizations should set measureable goals for meaningful usage and adoption. From there, it's all about the follow through.

IT and business leaders need to collect direct user feedback at various points post-rollout, in the short and long-term. Ask employees not only how often they're using the tools, but where and for what purposes. Gauge employees' opinions on the training they received, and make curriculum adjustments accordingly. By consistently going back to the source, organizations gain an accurate picture of what technologies resonate the most, and where to allocate future investments.   

So, as you go back and revisit how you apply usage and adoption to your collaboration initiative, it might make sense to use the same logic in sourcing the right gifts for friends and family. 

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