This Sunday, May 29, marks the 100th anniversary of the Indianaoplis 500, called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” It takes a lot to put together a race of such importance; and not everything happens on the track. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) headquarters, just outside the track, planning and operations take place for the big event. A few years ago, the IMS undertook a telecommunications system upgrade to improve communications and collaboration between its various departments – legal, sales, accounting, food and a studio production team – and to aid mobility for team members who need to stay connected as they move between the office and track. IT chose to deploy the Microsoft Lync Unified Communications (UC) platform.
Since the transition involved replacing desk phones with the UC solution that runs over laptops, as well as smartphones and tablets, IMS IT wanted to ensure employees would be comfortable with the change to soft phones and the use of Plantronics UC headsets. To bolster acceptance, a week into the trial of the first phase of the rollout, IMS offered employees the option to return to their desk phones if they were not satisfied. Turns out, no one did. The first phase of the rollout took five months. Deemed successful, the rollout to the rest of the organization continued.
Old habits die hard
Despite the productivity and collaboration benefits of UC , which integrates desk phones, PCs, smartphones and tablets into one integrated data and voice network accessible through the convenience of one interface, some small business employees may be resistant to change. Others may take time to familiarize themselves with all the features of your UC system, which can be many. (See: “Must-have unified communications features for your small business” Part 1 and Part 2.)
As Mike Sapien, an analyst with OVUM writes in “Unified Communications: Getting End Users on Board,” for CIO, “The assumption that end users can immediately jump in, knowing which tools to use to improve their productivity, is a bad one.” Users will need training when the system is deployed and Sapien advises that learning initially should focus on just a few of the UC features. Once your small business team gets the hang of those, you can move on to other uses and applications.
As part of your deployment, you may want to start with a trial group like the IMS did and see where there are problems or hurdles to acceptance and then incorporate that feedback into your training program. And don’t think of training as a one-time event. It should be an ongoing process, since users might fall back on the traditional ways they are used to doing things, such as sending an email off to see if someone has time to chat rather than using presence to let them know the person they are trying to connect with is online.
As important as training is, there’s also a need to promote adoption. Set an example by using the technology yourself to communicate with your team to encourage them to get on board. In the IMS situation, it helped that the CEO championed the deployment, forgoing his desk phone for Lync and the Plantronics headset. Encourage conversations about the use of new technology. Organize brown bag lunches, for example, where you talk about the technology and how it’s aiding efficiency and productivity and customer service.
Have a transition strategy in place before you rollout your UC platform. With the right plan in place, you’ll achieve the results you want and won’t leave your small business team in the dust.