The Real Reason your Collaboration Technology Doesn’t Work

The Real Reason your Collaboration Technology Doesn’t Work

Written by Cisilion’s Head of Modern Workplace, Luke Ward

In writing this blog, I thought about things I see most large organisations get wrong – and one thing stood out – just how often the user experience suffers when it comes to complex deployments. The way we work has evolved, and will continue to evolve as new technologies appear.

Businesses today risk losing talent, market share and competitive edge if they can’t keep up with the rapid pace of change, in this new digital age. Research by EY estimates that by 2025 over 75% of the workforce will be Millennials, bringing with them expectations on the way they work.

A report from Nimble Storage in collaboration with Oxford Economics found that:

  • 77% of millennials felt that”sub-optimal application performance” affected their productivity
  • While only 50% of baby boomers said the same

Furthermore, In a study conducted by Dell’s Workforce team, more than:

  • 80% of Millenial workers say that workplace tech would have a direct influence when deciding on a job
  • More than 50% expect to be working in smart offices in the next five years

Users expect the tools they use to communicate to be modern and simple – it has to be easy to use and deliver a high-quality experience to become part of everyday work. Yet the adoption of these tools often falls short and when you consider the three most costly items on the corporate balance sheet are people, technology and real estate, it becomes even more important to choose wisely.

In the face of changing economic conditions, new regulations, security, and budget constraints it’s easy to over engineer a solution – and end up with something nobody WANTS to use, or worse yet, is just too expensive to live with.

1) Start with the Users

By starting with the users and employing an agile method to gather feedback through proofs of concepts, you can start to critically evaluate the viability of whichever tools you have in mind. Establishing an approach early on that foster’s user feedback, governance, security and business factors will enable businesses to capture a 360-degree understanding of exactly what is needed, helping accelerate deployment, adoption and return on investment.

We saw this implemented well at one of our large global banking clients, here they created a program to enable staff to work from any device, on any network and in any location. They found that by taking a holistic approach instead of a siloed view, gathering iterative user feedback and performing controlled deployments in line with user feedback they could keep tighter cost controls, enhance adoption and embrace new ways of working.

2) Optimise your Spaces

Not too long ago, Telepresence and Video meetings where the privilege of the CEO and senior leaders, and not something you might find your back office or consumers using as a part of the working day. Fast forward to today, and Video is a critical part of business, bringing down the barriers of geography and fostering teamwork across the globe.

We have all suffered instances where the technology doesn’t work for the space – from not being able to see the content on a screen too small for the room, to juggling multiple remotes to figure out how to join a meeting, the fact remains you need to carefully evaluate the space and define the technology that works best within it if you want good experiences.

Whether it be counting the number of people in a particular space, allowing for wireless sharing, or using a voice assistant such as Alexa to launch your meetings, there are many ways to keep the experience simple and effective and make people want to use it again.

3) Take a Data Driven Approach

Don’t be afraid to change the “norm” and look at a different way to manage the lifecycle of your estate. Do you need to piece together a room from integrator kits or would an all in one solution cover your needs? What about using automation and AI to help inform you the right time to refresh?

Consider the metrics you will report back to the business – how much does your real estate cost, what value can you put on your team’s time, and what will it cost you to do nothing? Many organisations lack the visibility to take a data driven approach to change, this in itself can cripple any ROI – you can deliver the most feature rich solution but it will fail if it’s simply too hard to use.

According to MarketsandMarkets research, businesses that enable workers with the right tools and experiences achieve 26% higher revenue. Using hard metrics that show the real world cost and return for a solution will give you insights and data so you can realise the true potential of your investment. Organisations need to take a close look at how they can leverage Analytics to enhance business cases, support digital transformation and enhance cost efficiency in a way that was not possible before. For example, utilising AI enabled tools such as CloudFabrix or Vyopta to attain real world insights allows you to design spaces that support an agile work style, supports smart building initiatives, and arms you with the data to measure the success of your next generation workspace projects.

When you consider the growing relevance and use of analytics like this in other areas of IT, it makes sense to start making data driven decisions in your end user toolset. This is a new approach, but one I feel will become more and more prevalent and something Cisilion can help you evaluate.

4) Consider new Consumption Models

Buyers today want something that’s easy to transact, Cost effective, and enables predictability in spending. The old days of buying per user licensing, per minute charges or port-based licensing is expensive in today’s world, and don’t lend themselves towards a streamlined business.

The major OEMs are shifting towards more flexible licensing, allowing businesses to pay-as-you-grow and pay for only the things they need to run at a given time. Large organisations still have a mix of old and new licensing models in play, and should be looking at how they can consolidate and streamline this cost into a more flexible model. Performing Cost benefit analysis and evaluating the commercial benefits can often yield a significant cost reduction over a three or five year term, add to this the fact most vendors and OEMs offer incentives to move to more flexible licensing and you have more bang for your buck.

Typically cost savings come from consolidating legacy licensing with forecasted demand, into a single model with flexible options to change during the course of the contract. Whether you consider moving your Collaboration workloads to the cloud, embrace a Hybrid model or simply optimise on premises offerings, these offers allow you to pay for what you need and adjust during the course of the contract.

Where I have seen the biggest savings has been from a combination of factors – both reducing audio minutes by leveraging newer licensing models and reducing the cost of what businesses currently have by consolidating the legacy into a single contract. Think of this as being similar to taking out a debt consolidation loan, to give you a single predictable monthly payment.

5) Automate as much as you can

Operational tasks can often carry quite a time burden when it comes to running a large estate – with teams of people dedicated to managing provisioning tasks like setting up new users or services. By automating these tasks into a simple workflow, you can minimise the number of hours spent and make it a more seamless process – ultimately delivering further cost savings and improving the user experience.

You might consider automating your provisioning process or offering users a self-service option for the services users need – imagine being able to access all the tools and data you need on any device, collaborate and share ideas whilst staying secure, compliant and with the support of your IT department rather than in spite of it. 

6) Every Cloud has a silver lining, or does it?

For many, the cloud makes business sense, delivering cost savings and simplified management, often alongside attractive pay as you use consumption models. But it’s not for everyone – careful consideration needs to be given to security and how much risk your business can accept when placing your trust in an outside organisation. Organisations should seek to evaluate and assess how they move to the cloud, and what services are best delivered from a cloud solution.

One example might be moving costly conferencing services to the cloud, such as with Cisco Webex or Zoom, oftentimes saving you the hefty capex cost of buying your own hardware to enable the service.

7) Monitor Candidacy and Adoption

Often forgotten, it’s imperative organisations plan for change – making staff aware of the change and what they need to do to embrace it. Collaboration technology is extremely visible to all levels within an organisation, and If you want that all-important ROI you need to carefully manage any change to the normal with clear and consistent communication.

You need to control and monitor candidacy right at the start – have your users completed mandatory training? If not, then they probably aren’t a candidate for change just yet and emphasis should be placed on educating them.

Perhaps consider having a mixed curriculum of on demand and train the trainer classes, alongside simple portals that make it very easy to learn and understand the change coming. Having the option to watch videos offline on a mobile app makes it even more simple, giving your staff the option to catch up on the daily commute.

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