Since the turn of the 21st century, the vendor art of selling technology to companies has evolved from “look at all our new features in version 7.11r22 of our product” to “here’s where our product can benefit your business.” Yet, often for immature collaboration tools, there’s still an air of flinging new features at roadmaps to impress clients.
For startups, adopting any useful tool they come across offers instant value in savings and force multipliers, allowing tiny firms a global footprint through Slack, VoIP services and integrated messenger tools. Yet, despite the benefits of savings, accessibility, presence and ability to scale, when it comes to an established company “selling” new communications services to their own workforce, the process often creates the impression that communications technology is there to keep tabs on people, to eat into their personal time and to compress thinking time.
Spreading the seed of enterprise communications
To alleviate this problem and before investing in any new communications tools, from unified communications to a cloud collaboration system, businesses needs to ask workers “how can you do your job better” to get them onside and to find the specific problems that UC or VoIP can solve within the company.
Ask questions that will engage workers like:
- Who do you struggle to communicate with?
- What information do you need that you don’t currently get?
- How do you think communications affect you and the business day-to-day?
- What new tasks/features do you think better communications can provide for your role?
- What do you think the impacts of better communications will be for your career?
Also, be prepared to answer in plain English their concerns about:
- Why are we doing this?
- How does it affect me day-to-day?
- Will I have to answer out of hours messages?
Doing so before looking at all the glossy vendor websites and brochures enables businesses to have a shopping list of required features and key benefits that they can sell to all teams and workers. If the IT leadership can’t answer the questions, it’s time to find someone with UC or UCC experience to hire as an independent advisor on any major deployment project.
Similar questions can be asked to partner organizations the business works with, customers and so on, to establish how the change in communications will affect the relationship with them.
These pragmatic efforts, alongside how the board and IT leaders expect the business to function at a communications level in future, will provide the basis for any vendor or product selection.
Driving the change in communications
Vendor and product selection will be down to the needs and budget of the enterprise, but when new communications technology is installed on however many thousands of desktops, notebooks, smartphones and desk phones, there needs to be a concerted effort to encourage and empower the digital workforce to make use of their communications tool.
Leading from the top, the CEO or other leaders can start using new tools for the regular messaging. Instead of a weekly/monthly/quarterly business progress email, the boss can invite people to a chat or team meeting to discuss the progress and to take questions directly on how the company is changing direction.
All new team projects and department crossovers should be handled using new collaboration tools, with aspects such as live distributed meetings, journaling and knowledge building all highlighted and used to demonstrate the added value of the tools and how they can promote better time/team management and make processes simpler.
The HR department can move common processes to the new services’ chatbot or collaboration suite, with some real-world businesses going as far as disconnecting their phones to drive adoption.
Key to success is migrating all workers and processes to the new tools quickly, using service-level agreements, so workers understand their rights and when they have to respond to particular types of messages. IT should focus on disconnecting old tools to prevent a split in how workers and teams communicate and collaborate, to prevent the buildup of siloed communications and data.
Driving the company forward with better communications
Every business has its collective eye on the benefits of automated communications, smarter collaboration and integrated messaging. The key to a successful strategy is to pick the tools that provide clear benefits to the business, and not adopt whatever is on trend during a particular upgrade cycle.
Enterprises, and their workers, should not be a slave to a model or way of doing business mandated by the technology. Instead, build the technology around your processes, and build better processes where a weakness in how the business functions is highlighted as the rest of the company advances.
However AI, big data and other trends affect businesses in 2020 and beyond, they’ll only benefit a company if there is good communications, project planning and open and honest discussion of the impact. The best way to build support for a strategy is to hold honest debates across online collaboration platforms that provide clarity and a clear way forward from the CEO down to all levels of the organization.