Lookout iWork. Lookout Google Docs.
What makes for a “Successful” UC deployment?
As I finished writing our latest benchmark report on UC success earlier this week, my review of the data and the interviewee comments made one point crystal clear: UC success isn’t necessarily viewed from a technology perspective.
First, a bit of background: Each year, in support of our annual enterprise technology benchmark, we interview IT leaders representing around 200 companies, asking them a variety of questions to help us carry out our mission of quantifying the impact of emerging technologies. At the end of each technology portion of the interview we ask “how do you measure the success (of that particular technology)?,” “by that measure, how do you rate the success (on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the most successful)?,” and “what would you do to improve that rating?”
When I reviewed the results for UC-related areas, I found two interesting trends: First, the majority of participants rated their UC initiatives as either unsuccessful or somewhat successful; and second, that their reasons often had less to do with technology than with business case and user adoption. Building a business case for UC has always been somewhat difficult because the most often cited measure of business benefit is “improved productivity.” We’ve developed our own methodology at Nemertes called “Just in Time, Fetch the Expert” that attempts to quantify the business value of faster access to information (be it people or documentation). This model works well when you can apply it to business process improvement (e.g. more closed sales because field representatives have faster access to subject matter experts). However, if the end result is that the identified business benefit is "improved productivity" then it fails because there’s no guarantee that the time eliminated hunting for resources is put to good use. For instance, I've seen examples of calculators that measure the value of web conferencing investment by the time saved taking attendance and trying to track down who fell off of a call. In this example the value calculation was "time saved x average salary = ROI." But that approach assumes the time saved provides business value. What if time saved = more time to shop on-line or play angry birds?
And therein lies the crux of the problem: Deployment success doesn’t come from meeting project plan timeline goals, delivering a working solution that meets up-time goals, enabling integration of disparate systems, or coming in at or under budget (though all of those metrics are important), it comes from delivering business process improvement with tangible, quantifiable results
IT folks tell us they often struggle with marketing the benefits of the solution that they are delivering. All too often I saw in our interview notes comments along the lines of “we deployed xxx, but nobody is using it, and I’m not even sure if people know it exists.” Thus, it’s not enough to simply deploy the latest and greatest collaboration technology – success, true measurable success, comes from identifying the tangible impact that investment has on business processes, in conveying that potential benefit, and in providing training, end-user awareness, and in educating those with LoB P&L responsibilities on how investments in collaboration translate to bottom line improvements.
Note that Nemertes is now scheduling interviews for our 2014-15 benchmark. If you are able to participate in a one-hour confidential interview in exchange for access to the resulting benchmark reports, please contact us
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