Getting It Right, Beyond the Bits and Bytes

Planners charged with putting unified communications or collaboration in place and those charged with ongoing operations need to see beyond the technology. In some cases, it's understanding that these platforms don't change everything overnight. In others, the key is getting the right technology for employees — even if it seems like kid stuff. 

By Carl Weinschenk | Posted Aug 10, 2011
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Two recent posts look beyond technology to focus on what is involved, at a higher level, in implementing a successful unified communications and/or collaboration platform.
 
ZDNet blogger Oliver Marks looks at the issues in terms of myths: 
More specifically, there are all sorts of myths and misunderstandings around the realities of making businesses more efficient through increasing the quality and breadth of intercommunication, with the idea that it just somehow magically happens when new software is provisioned right up near the top of the list.
This type of thinking is dangerous, he writes, and must be balanced by lessons learned in the real world:
Reality checks are very important if tangible benefits are to be realized from collaboration initiatives which are typically either a provisioning exercise by IT departments (obviously at varying scales depending on context) or addressing the immediate needs of line of business.
It is important to find friends in high places in the form of senior executives who believe in the projects. Too often, though, deployments are driven by “harried, overworked mid-ranking management” whose minds are elsewhere — on corporate survival and accomplishing the tasks that always are at hand. It is important to find executives who have the vision and the latitude in terms of their own security. These folks can see the big picture and look past the myths to the realities of what unified communications and collaboration realistically offer.
 
Seeing clearly, though in another way, also is the message of a post by Elizabeth Herrell, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Consulting. Herrell's post is a bit less esoteric. She suggests that millenniums coming into the work force will expect far different communications tools than older workers. The company, through the IT department, should pay attention: These kids are going to use their technology of choice whether they get the official OK or not. Thus, the organization must be sure that it is done securely.
 
It's not a new thought. Herrell puts it well, however:
When planning for a communication upgrade look at the entire environment and ensure workers have full access to needed features across any device in a secure setting. This does not mean that there is loss of control over the environment, only that the communication management policies take into consideration the needs of all workers and expand sensibly to accommodate the multigenerational workforce. Additionally, upgrade decisions need to consider future integration with key business applications and ensure they are simple to use.
The thread through the two posts — which on many levels are very different — is that effective use of unified communications and collaboration tools goes way beyond speeds and feeds and bits and bytes.

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