For the past while on this blog, I’ve been writing about out of the box thinking and how taking different approaches can help you make better decisions when investing in UC. In some regards, this is about using unconventional perspectives to help make UC more than just a me-too idea to keep up with the competition. After all, if everyone deploys UC the same way, the vendors may be happy, but you’ll never get a leg up to give this any strategic value for the business.
After all, UC is both new and hard to define, so relying on traditional thinking about technology purchasing puts unnecessary constraints on the process. If anything, UC should be seen as a blue sky opportunity, where bold thinking can take you in bold directions, and that speaks to the transformative results I often talk about in my posts. If that’s your goal, then I hope you’ve been enjoying this series, where the examples I’ve been addressing are intended to get you out of the box to see new possibilities. Otherwise, UC becomes another routine technology decision, and that’s just missing the point completely.
Thinking out of the box for different approaches is hard to do, and most of us aren’t wired that way. I may be trying to push out and expand your comfort zone, but I also recognize we can’t all be original thinkers. So, we can take things down a notch, and instead of being radically different, you can also get good results by basing your decisions on conventional ideas, but with a broader scope of thinking. If this sounds abstract and/or obtuse, let me illustrate with the following example.
Are you buying UC or selling UC?
This is only a trick question if you view it in binary terms. Presuming you’re an IT decision-maker and/or key influencer, you certainly are a buyer when dealing with UC vendors or their channel partners. However, if you go back far enough on this blog, you’ll know that I’ve often written about how IT also has to wear the sales hat, especially if UC is your idea.
In cases where management/owners have decided on their own that thou shalt have UC, then you’re really just following orders. This isn’t the ideal scenario for all kinds of reasons, and no amount of out of the box thinking is going to change that. Your role will be a passive one of vetting various UC offerings and going with the vendor that ultimately fits best with management’s vision.
Of course, you and I both know that their UC vision will probably be pretty flawed and limited, but sometimes you are stuck in a situation where you can only go with the flow and hope for the best. If you survive this – in the wake of their misguided plans – you may get a second chance to present a more grounded vision that management will accept, but you have to hold your tongue and keep the I-told-you-so rebuke to yourself. After all, you have a job to protect – presuming that’s what you want at this point.
If this scenario does unfold – or if you are still driving the vision – then you can push the envelope and raise the UC bar by thinking more broadly about that sales hat. You didn’t sign up to be in sales, but when it comes to bringing new technology into the fold, IT is the expert, and selling management on UC is a given. In cases where your stock is riding high, management may give you carte blanche, but most businesses have reservations about amorphous offerings like UC. IT may have a deep understanding of how it works and the benefits it can deliver, but somehow, you have to get management’s buy-in.
For most forms of new technology, this is sufficient, and from there, you give the vendor the green light and the deployment process begins. UC, however, is more complicated, since you must get end user adoption for any of the benefits to be realized. As you likely know, UC is much more about employee productivity than network efficiency, so employee buy-in is arguably just as important as it is for management.
Selling UC – to end users?
So, how do you do that? The conventional approach won’t work – deploy UC, then tell employees it’s there and assume they’ll figure it out. I’ve written many posts about the steps in between to get their buy-in earlier in the process, and this is where you have to stretch your thinking. From the very beginning, you need to think about how you’re going to sell end users on UC – not the day you turn it up across your LAN.
One way to stretch your thinking is to include end users in the process right from the start. You’ve probably never done that – or even thought about doing it – but on many levels this is how you get their buy-in. Employees need to feel valued, and this is a great opportunity to do that and make sure their needs are fully understood by UC vendors.
Otherwise, the vendors may just assume their offerings will create magical results, and there’s no reason for that to happen with UC. In short, it’s a simple matter of connecting the dots and realizing that end users may not be the economic buyers, but they hold more power than anyone when it comes to making UC a success. When you look at that way, the idea of selling UC to end users really isn’t such a bad idea.