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According to IDC's prognosis, the value of unified communications market will reach $38 billion until 2016. How to effectively implement unified communications in your company?
The increasing interest in platforms that integrate various communications tools and enable team collaboration is the result of a few economic (trade organization, increase in professional mobility), technology (social media development, the increasing sales of mobile devices) and business factors all combined together.
Companies that have decided to implement unified communications appreciate the financial, operational and strategic benefits of these solutions. Business communications and collaboration platform vendors ensure smooth integration of the system with popular business application, which allows for a more efficient use of previous software investments. UC streamlines the existing business processes, enabling easier and more effective communication between employees, clients and external partners, such as coworkers or vendors.
Without doubt, these benefits outweigh the potential costs of integrating various channels of communication. However, when commencing such a project, it is useful to know the possible challenges a company may have to face. They are mostly connected with the following aspects: inadequate employee training system (58%), reluctance to give up on previously used tools (44%), lack of integration of the new solutions with previously deployed tools (37%) and unwillingness to change the habits related to communication and work (34%); (source: Overcoming Challenges of Implementing Unified Communications, Frost & Sullivan 2012).
The more communication channels there are, the more challenging it is to keep the flow of information smooth. What are the most important rules to follow when integrating them?Read more
Implementing unified tools that enable convergent communication requires appropriate preparations and attention. Below are a few rules that may help you through the process.
Changes in the ways of communication are always triggered by business challenges. Poor financial performance of sales teams may be an example of such a challenge. There may be many reasons for that, like an inappropriate incentive system, insufficient competencies of the salespeople and poor offer, just to name a few. In many instances, low revenues are caused by the lack of effectiveness of the adopted ways of working.
Salespeople who frequently visit their clients and participate in industry events usually need to postpone all other sales projects they are involved in. Sometimes simply equipping the sales team members with suitable mobile devices that ensure constant communication with the company may lead to better financial performance of the organization. However, everything depends on the right diagnosis of the issue as well as the barriers to its solution.
Before implementing new communications solutions, a thorough analysis needs to be made of the existing business processes, along with estimating the way in which they will change after project completion. Elements that may change include time needed for the performance of a given step (it will be faster to prepare a quote together, instead of everyone editing it on their own and submitting their changes), document approval process (not only by mail, but for example by means of a voice message sent to the user's inbox) and the rules of distribution for information sent by means other than email. You should examine the areas for improvement and identify any potential bottlenecks, i.e. the places where effective system operation may be hindered due to the integration with other systems or the existing working models.
Using even the most intuitive telecommunications solution requires appropriate training. This is why every change needs to be preceded with employee training. Such training should focus not only on presenting new system functionalities, but also on the potential changes in the ways of working. In practice, as a result of such training, employees should change the way they work and increase their productivity by introducing new methods of performing their daily responsibilities or new information exchange rules. The training also needs to include a wider social aspect of the new communications tools.
Moving employees away from their desk is the ultimate consequence of implementing unified communications, leading to an increase in the number of informal initiatives and projects. This is a big chance (to boost innovation), but also a significant risk (for information confidentiality or the adopted management methodology). A well-designed training process may help to balance the potential opportunities and risks.
The fundamental purpose of implementing platforms that integrate various channels of communication is the need to provide team members with a flexible working environment where they can perform effectively. The success of such projects depends not only on how skillfully the technologies are integrated, but also on an accurate identification of all social factors that influence the collaboration. This is why, before starting an endeavor of this type, it is useful to ensure the support of an experienced technology partner, along with an organization specialized in human resources management processes and shaping the organizational structure. Lack of such support is associated with a significant risk that is difficult to assess.