We all know that Unified Communication (UC) transformation success is not guaranteed. Large technology projects are highly complex so it’s no wonder some fail. Every IT professional is aware of the frustrating implications of a corporate IT project that just doesn’t meet its goals. This is true for Unified Communications (UC) transformations too.
A survey carried out by the Standish Group found that throughout the early 2010s the proportion of IT projects that were described as failed remained at around 20%. But what is it that causes the implementation of established, standardised technologies to disappoint so frequently?
It’s simple: technology that is not used by employees won’t contribute to business success, no matter how good it is.
Yes, factors including vendor quality and the fit of the implementation are also crucial. Yet projects are set to fail if end users do not like the technology they are presented with, feel unmotivated to adjust or even worse simply don’t know that a technology exists.
Though factors including vendor choice, the cost of the implementation and indeed the technical capabilities of an implementation are typically put front and centre, user engagement is not always considered with equal seriousness.
User Engagement Strategy
User engagement is a broad topic as it involves not just the rate of adoption of a new technology by users, but also the motivation users must make the best of it.
There is further complexity in that user involvement during the planning and implementation phase can make all the difference when it comes to the fit and therefore success of the finished implementation.
Hence leaving end users out of the project from the outset and throughout can lead to a hampered execution, explaining why so many CTOs, CIOs, and other senior IT leaders feel exasperated by the lack of return on otherwise well-executed projects.
Indeed, where technology is principally user-facing the importance of user engagement throughout the entire project is paramount.
UC is a prime example of technology that has the power to transform a business, but which does not always meet this lofty goal purely because users are not engaged.
What is the Recipe for High User Engagement?
Obtaining user engagement is not difficult but it does require a concerted, considered effort from technology leaders:
1. Talk to End-Users From the Outset
It is always worth bearing in mind that a technologist’s view of technology is often distinctly different from the user’s view.
A technology implementation that is not fit for purpose and which does not reflect the needs and requirements of everyday users will never see wide adoption.
Instead, technology leaders should consult with users at the earlier stages, before vendor selection and certainly before functional requirements are finalised.
End users should be part of implementation and testing too so that unidentified issues can be ironed out before a technology project is made widely available.
2. Prove the Benefits
Business benefits are often user benefits too. In other words, your company saves money because your users can use UC to do their jobs more efficiently.
So, in building user engagement, technology leaders should focus on highlighting UC benefits users.
For example, outline how UC makes it easier to stay in touch with clients, to keep colleagues in the loop and to stay connected with the latest developments in the business.
Doing so can motivate users to pass the initial hurdles of adopting new technology.
3. Identify Super Users
Technology departments can operate in relative silos and find it difficult to reach out to users involved in everyday business.
Technology leaders should link up with super users elsewhere in the company to help drive user engagement.
Super users can pass user benefit education further down the chain, broadening the effort to educate users. They can also help technology staff once implementation is complete by ensuring ongoing engagement and by feeding back issues that are reducing the enthusiasm users have for a new project.
4. Find the Early Adopters
It is not uncommon for users to be tech savvy – whether it’s an interest in personal technology or indeed a past working history that reflects technical knowledge.
These users can act as early adopters, proving the use cases for new technology.
Early adopters can be agents of change, both motivating the use of new technology such as UC to senior company leadership and helping tech leaders to educate everyday users about the benefit of new software tools.
5. Manage change
First, introduce technological change as gradually as possible. Wholesale change is always more difficult to swallow than step by step change.
Provide eager assistance to users where needed and be sympathetic where change is not going to plan – it is not necessarily anyone’s fault.
Training is a crucial part of change management and tech leaders should not neglect this element of change management: users will rapidly stop using technology that they do not understand.
Refresher courses are key too, users are not inclined to recall training in perfect detail and ongoing tips and knowledge top-ups will help users get the most out of the wide feature set of a product like UC.
6. Don’t Skip on Engagement Strategy
Finally, technology leaders must understand that a sure way to lose user engagement is a botched implementation strategy.
There will always be unforeseeable elements to technological change, ranging from problems with vendors through to unexpected user requirements.
The ability to navigate these challenges and to minimise the problems that users experience will give technology leaders a head start in the user engagement stakes.
Users that see a project rolling out seamlessly will be more likely to offer their ongoing enthusiasm.
Consider Help From User Engagement Specialists
Clearly, getting user engagement right involves ticking quite a lot of boxes but senior IT staff do not need to feel they are alone in getting users on board.
At Connect we’ve successfully implemented countless UC projects because we understand why user engagement is so important and what it takes to get users closely involved in new technology implementations.
We also understand which UC users like the most and understand how to explain the benefits of UC for everyday business use.
Our partners Freeformers can help your business cope with the broader issues around digital transformation, while we recommend that you consider intensive UC feature and benefit training courtesy of our partners over at 1UC.
Either way, always consider talking to your chosen UC partner or consultant about user engagement they will be ideally placed to help.
We understand how transformative UC can be and will help ensure that its transformative potential is seen in your business too.