I had about 8 hours in the car the last two days so I spent some time catching up on the Industry Buzz Podcasts (http://www.ucstrategies.com/industry-buzz/) from the UC Strategies Team (http://www.ucstrategies.com/). A lot of things stuck with me, and have helped me with my strategic approach to UC consulting and I wanted to share a few tips.
Whether you are a business looking to deploy a new communications solution, or you are a consultant deploying these services to a business, I think it is critical to remind yourself that Unified Communications should be 100% focused on the end users and not the technology.
Chris Hummel, CCO of Siemens discussed Project Ansible (http://www.siemens-enterprise.com/projectansible/us) on this podcast: http://www.ucstrategies.com/industry-buzz/project-ansible.aspx . Siemens spent a significant amount of time on the end user experience when developing this solution. I heard Chris reference studies on the chemical reactions in the brain that are associated with trust and healthy relationships with people, these guys took this very seriously. Most importantly, they used end user personas to create a center of gravity for the design of Ansible. Every time they made a design decision they referenced their user personas and asked what this would do for the users. This is the approach I take when I work with organizations on their overall UC strategy and deployment. The value of documenting the business and user requirements and referencing them frequently throughout the project is huge. However, I believe this often gets lost in the technology, especially when there are vendors competing for the UC business at an organization.
Deploying a UC solution is not about what features you can bring to the users, it is about how you will enable users to do their jobs more effectively then before adopting the new solution. Every UC solution on the market can bring the same features to the users; but which solution will enable the business you are working with to use UC as a tool to improve their business.
This all came together for me when I listened to the team discuss the Future of IT ( http://www.ucstrategies.com/industry-buzz/the-future-of-it.aspx). It reminded me that when I started down the path of Information Technology Consulting, it was my goal to provide value to the businesses that I work with. Often the benefit of IT to an organization is forgotten, but Unified Communications is a great tool to help change the perception of IT inside an organization. Use UC to prove that technology is capable of providing incredible value to the business, and that you as a member of the IT team, or a consultant to a business, are able to provide strategic business value to the company, not just flashy new expensive hardware or software.
Big shout out to the team at UC Strategies, I really enjoy the work they are doing there.