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Bring your own experience – Making UC work for SMBs

Bruce Downing, Managing Director, Asia and South Africa, ShoreTel | April 9, 2015
Many SMBs have looked at UC and decided that UC is a grand concept that's too big to fit their needs and budget. But it's worthwhile thinking about implementing UC solutions that are tailored to be the right fit for SMBs.

Employees are bringing their mobile devices to work, and there is growing frustration that they have better applications for personal use than in their jobs. They increasingly favour their mobile devices for telephony, but they expect telephony to work seamlessly with the other modes they rely on to be productive. Furthermore, they also know they can't be 100 per cent wireless, so there is an additional expectation that the mobile UC experience is replicated on whatever other screens or endpoints they use for work.

Bring Your Own Experience (BYOE) means UC needs to be easy to use and that it "just works", regardless of what endpoint is being used. The bar has been set quite low in the workplace, but when UC behaves like consumer-grade applications — and also delivers business-grade benefits — your SMB can reap the ROI of implementing a UC solution.

Here's what SMBs should ask of their UC vendor in order to best cater to their employees' experience:

1.       Build a UC solution around mobility and the web: employees can relate to these technologies and will be more willing to adopt the usage of such a UC solution. 

2.       Focus on business problems, not features: understand what your employees need to communicate effectively, and design a solution that makes them more productive, instead of trying to sell-in the broadest possible feature set. 

3.       Focus on the user experience, not the technology behind UC: today's tech-savvy employees really don't care about the technology, nor do they relate much to the UC concept. What they dorelate to are applications, much as they do for personal needs.  

4.       Develop new applications: as with applications in the consumer world, UC will continue evolving, and that's what keeps employees engaged.  

5.       Provide cradle-to-grave support: deliver a great user experience to your IT support team by providing the end-to-end support to deploy, manage and enhance UC. SMBs have limited IT resources, and this is where vendors and channel partners have a major opportunity to add value. When IT knows that training, tech support, reporting tools, etc. are just a phone call or mouse click away, they will have more confidence in rolling out UC and engaging with employees to help them get full use from the applications.

Today's workplace around new technology are a mix of temperamental levels of comfort and difficulty, and it must be understood that BYOE needs to be flexible enough to apply across this spectrum. This makes it even more important to consider the above checklist when selecting your BYOE-centric UC vendor.

As an SMB, you will likely be better served by a smaller vendor that understands not just the realities of small businesses, but also what BYOE means to your employees.

BYOE is not the usual approach to marketing UC, but it could be the most powerful driver for future success.


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