Are your people stopping you from achieving your UC goals?

I could sense when speaking to my colleague, that she was far from convinced about having a video call with our Northern Sales team. Her job was to help collect payments from our customers and whilst she was happy doing this she felt it was harder with our northern colleagues as she didn’t get to see them face-to-face.

I smiled, knowingly and explained that she could achieve that using our extensive video conferencing facilities. She was not impressed.

“I don’t think I want to do a video call,” she said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because they’ll…see me,” she explained, hesitantly.

“Do you think we can’t see you in a normal meeting?” I asked, as she blushed realising the ridiculousness of her statement.

Looking back, I realise that what she was saying was not as crazy as it had sounded. The issue wasn’t she would be seen. It was that she’d see herself in the preview monitor. This is not an experience one has in a regular meeting.


Behavioural factors

This and other similar observations have led to me to ask whether perhaps some of the difficulties we have experienced in the unified conferencing business are not just about ease of use. Instead some of them might be behavioural and these are probably harder to overcome.

One of my favourite examples of this is telephone headsets: Headsets are a fantastic idea for businesses that use call centres or employ telephone sales people. The benefits are easy to understand:

·        A user can switch seamlessly between using video and voice calls.

·        The user’s hands are free to take notes, have a cuppa whilst using a calculator or type with both hands without developing an irreversible spinal injury from clutching the receiver between your shoulder and your cheek.

However, when we supplied headsets to our sales team we found that after two weeks, they had all ditched them in favour of the regular telephone receiver.

The reason for this was simple. Nobody could tell whether the headset wearers were on the phone or not. This seems trivial but it became an annoying problem. People took to mouthing silently to each other “are you on the phone?” with their thumb and little finger adopting the globally-recognised “phone receiver” position pressed up against the side of their face. I can remember, on multiple occasions, having a conversation with a be-headsetted colleague only to realise, as their answers no longer made any sense, that they were talking to somebody else.


Natural experience

What further evidence do I have of this? Well, last I checked growth in headsets was much slower than the growth of the traditional phone and receiver set-up. Furthermore, do you remember having a mobile phone Bluetooth headset hanging out of your ear? What happened to those? Maybe improved in-car kits were the final nail in the coffin. Perhaps we all realised we looked ridiculous. This suggests to me that a more natural experience is the one that people will usually adopt if it is an option.

None of this is to say that new behaviours can’t be adopted; that somehow people cannot learn a complex new technology if it helps them do their job more effectively. If that were true none of us would be driving today. The reason most of us learned to drive (despite the enormous cost and heartache) is that we were enormously motivated to do so. It served our needs to such a great level that we were prepared to go through endless hill-starts and reversing around corners with an impatient instructor.

The point is that if you are to ask your staff and colleagues to use a new technology to improve how you do business you must find a way to motivate them to persist with it.


Structured business processes

Firstly, you must establish what your true requirement is. I spoke with Jon Knight from Ascentae, who specialise in Nureva Span, a new collaboration tool, which has been gaining traction lately. The Nureva Span solution helps to transform structured business processes currently being delivered on paper into a digital and collaborative experience for both local and remote participants.

Knight says: While the technology is able to do a great many things to enhance a traditional meeting, not everybody in the business needs all of the features it has. So, we have to look carefully at appropriate applications. Span has the ability to significantly enhance the project management process.

Nureva and Ascentae have found clients by concentrating on what structured business processes prospective clients use. Because it can run the same structured processes in a digital way, we can demonstrate that Span enhances this experience without expecting people to change their usual meeting-room habits.

This is the reverse of what I have seen in other circumstances, where companies deploy meeting room tools to multiple rooms around the globe without really understanding the case for using them.


Lead by example

Secondly you may have to work hard to get your teams to start using your new deployment. Some companies offer adoption services, which are usually worth investigating. However, some aspects of a company’s adoption can be quite straight-forward. Knight explains: “My experience is that adoption can’t be created in silos; it can be enormously helpful if the senior management team is prepared to lead by example. They may experience some pain doing this, but since it’s their decision to deploy and usually their budget, they should take that pain to allow the rest of the users to avoid it.”

Whilst they do this, the senior managers must always speak positively about newly deployed technology. If you have senior members of your business openly cursing the new communications system, you significantly damage the adoption process.


Accessibility and use

Thirdly make your new deployment accessible and easy to use. This is not just about the user interface: it’s also more practical things like the training offered to people, the documentation that is required, and who is there to help if users have a bad experience? Hopefully, senior managers will have helped you iron out some of the wrinkles in their adoption phase.

Knight explains. “If somebody discovers a new problem, they must understand it is their responsibility to take that to their support team so nobody else suffers the same problem. Too often I have experienced colleagues refusing to use perfectly good technology as they once had a bad experience that they can’t recall and told nobody about.”

Finally try to find great reasons for everyone to use your new technology. Spotting circumstances where somebody could have a better result using the new technology is usually very effective. Be a proud sponsor of your new solution. It won’t take long before you find other enthusiasts and then your sponsorship role becomes much easier.

Nureva Span solution helps to transform structured business processes currently being delivered on paper into a digital and collabor

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