The user is king, not the technology

I have something to share with you; the things that will not ensure a Unified Communications (UC) solution is successful when deployed across your organisation:

12 February 2018

1. Functionality
2. Cost effectiveness
3. Ease of use

 “WHAT?” I hear you cry, “But if the UC solution is the most feature-rich out there, is competitively priced with obvious ROI and the user interface is super intuitive…these things MUST make the deployment successful!” Actually, they don’t; User Adoption (UA) makes a UC solution successful. User profiling, training and support will be the area above all others that will make a UC deployment work. The solution can be as feature-rich, shiny and wonderful as you like but without buy-in from its users, it will fail.

Let’s take the example of a County Council whose legacy telephony estate is nearing end-of-life, and whose conferencing and messaging systems are all disparate. The Council are eager to encourage better internal collaboration and introduce a modern UC solution; something like Skype for Business, for example, would revolutionise the Council’s way of working and drag their communications into the 21st Century. There may be hundreds (maybe even thousands) of staff quite happy with the old phone system and their big plastic desk phone, thanks very much. Many users are fine with the antiquated conferencing systems – of which there may be many – and many more have never used Instant Messaging, Desktop Sharing or seen real-time Presence, so why start now? After all, the old phone system isn’t actually broken, and they may have been using it without issue for 25+ years. Go away, Skype people!

Without the inclusion of comprehensive UA activity as part of the UC solution roll-out, deployment of Skype for Business or a similar solution in the above example is highly likely to fail, as users will simply not engage or appreciate the benefit to them. Even worse, if the UC solution if forced on them as an overnight replacement of their old system without prior UA activity, it will never be embraced and its benefits will never be realised. I often stand in a room of people – all sat there with arms folded and frowns on their faces – about to deliver end user training on the super new UC client their organisation wants to roll out. They are all generally miffed at the thought of having to learn how to use a new telephony system which (shock-horror) means they won’t need their desk phones anymore. What’s more, this new UC solution lives in the “Cloud” and they will be able to use it from anywhere! Their body language says it all, which is why it’s time for well-planned UA.

The following three 3 key UA activities should always be adopted to aid solution design and roll-out:

Spend time with representatives of each department from within the organisation to profile how they work, communicate and collaborate internally and externally. What tools do they use and where are their pain points? Also, what do they wish they could do with a comms system? At this point, users realise that their functionality needs will be captured and current issues addressed, and the buy-in process begins. The results of this user profiling feeds into the agenda for end user training to make subsequent training specific and relevant.
Interactive product demonstrations and comprehensive user training should be delivered on site and tailored to the various teams as defined by the user profiling activity. At this point, the new UC system becomes less of an unknown beast and more of a “well, that’s easy enough to use” and “wow – didn’t know it could do all that!” The buy-in process continues.
In addition to the standard, quick-reference “How To” guides, post-deployment support for ongoing service adoption is provided by the use of tools such as GCI’s UCversity. This tailored e-learning portal offers on-demand education in multiple formats – including video content and a Yammer Q&A community – available any time. Users can learn at their own pace and have their questions answered in a virtual Q&A environment.

GCI understand that the holy grail of any successful technology deployment is ensuring good User Adoption. Skype for Business is GCI’s core UC solution offering, delivered from the Cloud or deployed on-premise with comprehensive User Adoption activity, which is why our deployments are always successful.

Discover how GCI can help your users adjust to the brave new world of Skype for Business through our UCversity and UC Analytics solutions; simply get in touch at


Keith Harper

Head of Pre-Sales

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