Unified Communications offers value on many levels, and having now developed to the point where dozens of vendors have offerings, the decision process has become quite challenging.
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3IZIFF DAVIS Driving UC Adoption in your Business Strategies for Getting Buy-In from both Executive Management and End Users October 2012 Ziff Davis Research © 201 2 All Rights Reserved rHZIFF DAVIS Table of Contents Introduction...................................................................................03 Five UC Buy-In Challenges for Executive Management ............................04 Five UC Buy-In Challenges for End Users..............................................06 Strategies to Drive Adoption with Executive Management........................08 Strategies to Drive Adoption with End Users .........................................10 Conclusion.....................................................................................12 Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 2 Introduction F39ZIFF ml DAVIS Unified Communications offers value on many levels, and having now developed to the point where dozens of vendors have offerings, the decision process has become quite challenging. For this reason, Ziff Davis has produced a number of guides and white papers, with guidance on choosing the right solutions, vendors and deployment models. These write-ups will help you on a practical level, but UC is a big step up from VoIP, and has more complexity in terms of having a successful deployment. Technology and network-related issues are part of this, but there is another dimension that our research indicates as being not well understood. This guide has been prepared to help you navigate through the subtle challenges of driving adoption and gaining buy-in for UC, not just from executive management, but also the end users in your organization who will be directly benefiting from these new applications. IT-based decision makers certainly need executive buy-in for the financial commitment, along with hands-on adoption from end users to generate the results UC can deliver. To get both stakeholder groups onside, IT must take full ownership of the UC opportunity, and this guide provides practical strategies for each audience. While IT and vendors may speak the same language about UC, these groups do not, and this guide will also help you understand what is really important for getting them to adopt UC based on their frame of reference. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 3 Five UC Buy-In Challenges for Executive Management No matter how badly IT wants UC, you must start at the top to get buy-in from executive management. While most boardroom decisions are made by the numbers, this should be a relatively easy justification to get with UC. Investments in technology are often product-based, and management has little emotional attachment beyond making IT happy. UC is different due to its potential to impact the overall competitiveness of the business and transform the way things get done. To get this message across, and get management truly invested in UC, IT needs to address a series of challenges that will position UC in the best light. Here are five key challenges for IT to build their case around. 1. UC is a service, not a product. This represents a different way of thinking, but is essential for management to understand the cost justification basis for UC. In most cases, the frame of reference for UC will be around replacing or upgrading the phone system, which is based on expensive hardware. UC solutions are typically software-based, and are increasingly being deployed in the cloud on a hosted basis. This is consistent with the broader trend of SaaS—software as a service —where the application is consumed on-demand, much like with a utility model. In this scenario, the conventional ROI metric is not sufficient, or even relevant. While ROI is still applicable to the outcomes driven by UC, the financial rationale on the basis of UC being a service needs to be based more on TCO —total cost of ownership. 2. Voice still matters, but UC is not about telephony. If your management team has a legacy mindset, they will probably view UC in the context of a phone system upgrade. These optics must change for them get behind UC, as fixed line phone systems are no longer the only form of telephony, and the desk phone is no longer the communications hub of your business. That mantle has shifted to the desktop and the mobile space, and legacy phone systems have diminishing value so long as they operate in their parallel universe alongside all the other communications modes which run over your data network. Voice will remain the preferred mode, but has more value when integrated with everything else, and that is the fundamental premise of UC. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 4 ml DAVIS 3. UC is a work-in-progress. Executives prefer certainty to uncertainty, especially with new technology, and it is the exception when maverick moves are made in these situations. This is usually the domain of risk takers and small, disruptive companies with little to lose, but that likely does not describe your company. In most cases, the history has been to buy a phone system based on very mature technology that will last a long time and change very little. UC is the polar opposite, and in fact, will never be finished. Today's UC offerings may seem extensive, but we are really just at the beginning of where things will go, and constant innovation needs to be seen as core piece of UC's value proposition. 4. UC is not about lowering telecom costs. This is another challenge that comes with a legacy mindset, especially if VoIP is new to the business. Telecom is definitely a key driver for VoIP—and sometimes the only driver, and businesses often get a fast ROI as many savings come off the top right away. There certainly are ongoing savings, so VoIP will continue earning its keep over time. This should not be the expectation with UC. While UC will incorporate VoIP, and may well deliver incremental telecom savings, the true value lies in the bigger picture. Depending on how extensively UC is deployed, the payback really comes from productivity gains, both on an individual basis and for teamwork, where complex collaboration is required. Going even further, UC enables organization-wide benefits when integrated with platforms such as CRM or ERP, with the outcome being improved business processes. 5. Business benefits from UC are strategic Another aspect of getting away from-and beyond-telecom-related cost savings, is getting management to view UC as a strategic investment. Executives may be somewhat interested in how UC makes IT's job easier or how employees will become more productive, but UC will really get their attention when they understand how it impacts boardroom-level decisions. When UC delivers on the higher end of its potential, the business becomes more competitive-customer satisfaction improves, time-to-market is faster, sales cycles get shorter, employee turnover falls, etc. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 5 Five UC Buy-In Challenges for End Users At the other end of the spectrum are company employees-the end users of UC. The buy-in challenges are very different here, mainly because they are not paying for UC. No matter how bullet-proof your business case is for IT to deploy UC, as well as for management to sign-off on this, nothing moves forward unless end users adopt UC. This could be harder to do than it looks, especially if employees are rooted in a legacy world, and there is limited appetite for new things. Just as parents struggle to get their children to do things that are good for them, the onus falls on IT —as well as your UC vendor-to engage end users and get them to see this as better way to communicate. Here are five challenges IT will need to overcome with end users for a successful UC deployment. By nature, IT understands technology, and as you evaluate the vendors, UC will become first nature. This will serve you well, but only if you can get end users on the same page. UC has always been a rather fluid concept, and while intuitive to IT, not so much to end users. The benefits of UC will appeal to end users, but they do not normally think in those terms or use the language around "unified communications". Most end users use and refer to applications discretely-telephony, email, fax, chat, IM, conference calling, etc.-even when these are used together. As such, do not assume they will get excited about UC by its name, at least without a simple explanation. 2. Need a good reason to use UC. As noted earlier, end users are not paying for UC, so IT needs to provide motivation and somehow co-opt them, even just to get started. Aside from not having a financial stake in UC, end users may be perfectly happy with the status quo. If there is no pressing problem at hand, IT will need to take an active role to drive engagement. This can be especially challenging in cases where legacy telephony is still the gold standard for quality and reliability. IT may not see this as being in their mandate, but to be blunt, you need their buy-in more than they need yours for UC, so you may well need to find a way. 1. What is UC? Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 6 ml DAVIS 3. Not all end users are created equal. Like any new form of technology, UC will be intuitive for some and daunting for others. This mix will vary widely, and the challenge here is about knowing your audience. Smaller businesses should have an easier time with this, but in all cases, unless you have a truly homogenous workforce, the adoption curve will be driven by their comfort level with technology. Legacy phone systems did not have this issue, since everyone is already familiar with telephony, there are few technological barriers, and the phone only does one thing. Contrast this with UC, which can be used in an endless variety of ways, and it should be clear that a universal set of assumptions could derail your deployment plans. Initially you need to accept that some end users will get a lot of utility from UC, while others may not bother at all. 4. How will this impact mobility? UC may be maturing quickly and gaining a lot of traction, but mobility is an even bigger trend, and is moving faster in many ways. Most businesses struggle with mobility, especially with smartphones and tablets, and IT faces major challenges with the advent of BYOD —bring your own device. This creates disruption for network management, but is fast becoming a necessary condition for keeping employees happy, especially in businesses with a lot of Millennials. Most UC applications are tied to either fixed line telephony or the desktop, and getting take-up here will be difficult if end users are doing most of their communicating over wireless devices. In these cases, mobile integration should be a major consideration in your choice of UC vendor, but this alone will not guarantee a successful rollout. 5. End users have alternatives to most UC applications. This challenge is easy to overlook unless you put yourself in the shoes of an end user. Most applications in a UC solution are familiar and already widely-used by end users-voice, IM, messaging, video, file sharing, screen sharing, etc. The value of UC comes from integrating all these applications in an environment that is consistent for all end users and from all locations that are LAN-accessible. While the benefit is additive, the underlying applications still have value on their own. If your UC solution has weak links in terms of ease of use or the quality of experience, end users may rely on familiar alternatives they have sourced elsewhere on their own. Typical examples would be free Web-based VoIP, video chat providers, or cloud-based conferencing services. The more these alternatives remain in use, the less benefit your UC solution can deliver. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 7 Strategies to Drive Adoption with Executive Management The challenges of getting executive buy-in for UC are very real, but can certainly be overcome. Addressing them may be outside of IT's comfort level, but the payoff is worth it for two reasons. First, on a practical level, IT gets what it wants, and this goes beyond providing better tools for end users. IT also gets a solution to the problem of aging infrastructure along with a nice upgrade to their network capabilities. Second is improving their standing with management. IT is often seen as a utility with limited value-add, and as legacy telephony becomes a costly commodity, this perception will only be reinforced. A successful UC deployment will deliver the kind of benefits that position IT as a strategic resource with a seat at the table when it comes to making business-level investments. With these payoffs in mind, here are four strategies for IT to consider. 1. UC is new-be patient. This approach will be especially important where management has a legacy mindset around communications. If the business has had one phone system the past 20 years, they cannot have the same expectations for a technology that is still evolving. You may even want to draw comparisons with email, the Web or mobile phones. All of these had dubious value propositions and were slow to gain acceptance, but are now indispensible. UC needs to be positioned this way, and to succeed, management must trust IT's ability to execute. They will need to understand that UC is different from legacy telephony-best practices or standards are not in place yet, and there is no single right way to deploy UC. 2. Set realistic expectations - not too high or low. This is an extension of the above strategy, but merits its own consideration. If enough research has been done, IT will have the best knowledge base in the company around UC. Keeping this edge will be especially important not just for initial buy-in from management, but for sustaining their commitment over time. Setting the right level of expectation will be critical here, and this applies across the board. Good examples include having a realistic deployment schedule, a roadmap showing the initial benefits followed by future benefits as adoption grows, identifying which departments or operational units will get the best results, breakdown of expected hard dollar and soft dollar savings, outlook for emerging applications that will enhance UC's value in the near future, etc. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 8 ml DAVIS 3. Focus on outcomes, not processes. Management is primarily interested in results that drive the business and keeping costs under control. There is a lot of complexity behind UC, especially for higher end collaboration tools, but these details are the domain of IT. To win their support, the focus needs to be on what outcomes will be enabled by UC, and how these will filter up in terms of the issues that drive their decisions. As an aside, keep in mind that executives are end users too, and if IT can show how their own experiences with UC will produce valuable outcomes, that could be a good shortcut to gaining management buy-in. 4. Outline a clear role for IT with UC. Long-term, this is your most important strategy, as it goes well beyond UC. Technologies come and go, and IT must continually adapt to provide the best support for growing the business. In cases where legacy telephony has been in place and static for decades, there is a risk that management will view telecom as a commodity, and given how costly these systems are, this may bring IT's value into question. This is particularly relevant if management is advocating —or even mandating —outsourcing to the cloud as a way to reduce costs. To defend your raison d'etre, IT must position UC as being mission-critical —and show where/how/why IT adds value. The transition from legacy telephony to UC can be a major shift, and if IT's value-add has been built on supporting outmoded technology, UC can present an existential threat. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 9 Strategies to Drive Adoption with End Users This stakeholder group will have different needs and expectation than executives, and here as well, IT has a knowledge-based advantage. With the right approach, this advantage can be leveraged effectively, but doing so will not be easy. Overall, the key will be coming to end users at a level they feel comfortable with —not too technical, but also not being so simplistic as to insult their intelligence. As noted earlier, this is really about knowing your audience and positioning UC accordingly. If this sounds more like marketing than IT, you would be correct, and IT will likely need to wear this hat in the early stages of deployment. Remember, end users are not the ones asking for UC —IT has asked management for UC, but end users were not likely involved at that point. Below are some strategies to consider in your approach to getting end users to share your vision and embrace UC. 1. Emphasize ease of use. UC itself is not a product or an application-it enables other applications to be used more effectively. When first deploying, IT should focus applications that are familiar to end users where they can see the advantages right away. UC may be complex within the network, but externally, it must appear seamless and intuitive to end users. New technologies gain traction faster when behavior change is minimized, so try to engage end users in a non-technical manner, with the message being that UC is as easy to use as making a phone call. 2. Focus on Millennials as your early adopters. The prior strategy is important for gaining broad adoption, but IT should also cultivate a specific community around Millennials. Not only do they represent the future, but UC will be very intuitive from the start, as they will likely have been doing similar things in their personal worlds with consumer-based applications. The Internet generation has been weaned on multitasking, instant messaging, mobility, video and social media, and these tools are the very essence of UC. These end users will recognize UC's value right away and will be in the best position to drive meaningful results, which could help strengthen your case if things get off to a slow start otherwise. Not only that, but Millennials who are getting good results can serve as evangelists to support other end users in adopting UC, as well as be your sounding board for pilot testing new applications. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 10 ml DAVIS 3. Make UCfun. Coming back to the broad pool of end users, you want to tout UC as being a great experience —even being fun. As noted earlier, end users did not ask for UC, and it may not be addressing any immediate problem, so you need another angle to engage them. Borrowing a page from the Millennial world, an effective approach is to emphasize how easy it is to customize their UC experience. Personalization is a key driver for getting people to adopt technology, especially when so many applications are anonymous or complex to use. By positioning UC as their UC, end users can adopt it on their terms, such as by personalizing their screen interface, using the applications they are comfortable with, or customizing their settings and preferences for communicating with co-workers. 4. Respect their privacy. UC can be a powerful tool, but the more centralized and integrated these solutions becomes, the greater the risk for Big Brother scenarios. There is certainly a generational element to consider here, as older end users may be less trusting of UC than Millennials, who seem more comfortable trading off some personal privacy for staying hyper-connected. For the most part, conversations over legacy phone systems were private, but once all communications becomes routed over a common data network, there is much less certainty around this fundamental assumption. This represents a prime opportunity for IT to present a set of policies and practices that make end users comfortable that UC will not compromise their privacy. With so many people juggling personal and work-related communication on the same devices —often on a 24/7 basis —this is a valid concern, especially if the culture of your company has fostered a distant or even adversarial relationship between IT and employees. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 Conclusion F39ZIFF ml DAVIS UC represents the culmination of many communications modes that have come before it, and the ability to integrate them on a single platform creates a wealth of new opportunities. IT stands to gain via a compelling migration path that allows the company to move on from a phone system that is old, breaking down, costly to maintain and ill-equipped to meet today's needs. This benefit may not be evident to either executive management or end users, and buy-in is needed from both for IT to successfully deploy UC. For IT decision-makers who have only ever been concerned with technology, they will face a complex set of challenges to get this buy-in, and these could prove more daunting than the hands-on issues of actually getting UC to work with their network. Beyond having technical expertise, IT needs to think like an executive as well as an end user, and sometimes both at the same time. UC is not simply an upgrade of the phone system, and getting these stakeholder groups to see the bigger picture is the real challenge to drive adoption across the business. This guide has identified a set of challenges for each group, and while every situation is different, you will likely find many of these to be close to home. Other challenges certainly exist, but this should provide a solid foundation for defining your particular problem set, from which a direct strategy can be formulated. Building on these challenges, we have presented a set of strategies for each group, all of which are practical approaches that IT can take to get their buy-in. UC cannot be imposed on the business, and only by understanding the barriers to adoption can IT foster the desire needed from both groups to make it a must-have solution. About Ziff Davis Ziff Davis, Inc. is a leading digital media company specializing in the technology market, reaching over 40 million highly engaged in-market buyers and influencers every month. Ziff Davis sites, which feature trusted and comprehensive evaluations of the newest, hottest products, and the most advanced ad targeting platform. Ziff Davis B2B is a leading provider of online research to enterprise buyers and high-quality leads to IT vendors. More information on Ziff Davis can be found at ziffdavis.com. Unified Communications Guide: Driving UC Adoption in your Business Ziff Davis Research © All Rights Reserved 2012 12