Martin Finlayson, Head of Visual Communications, avsnet

In my recent series of blog posts and articles I have discussed fairly technical subjects. This time I thought I would give you all a break and talk about something more conceptual instead.

One of the most important concepts to understand about any technology deployment is that no matter how brilliant it is, if the users don’t understand it or cannot see a relevance to it, you’re doomed.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Unified Communications.

Some of you may be familiar with the KISS principal, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid!’ It is the guiding light for the successful deployment of technology. So keep it simple, make it relevant and above all solve a problem for the user.

In my humble opinion, the silver bullet for the entire UC experience is to make sure you adopt a single workflow when it comes to collaboration. If the user only needs to learn one workflow and the support team only need to support one process then you’re in with a chance of being successful.

The minute you give the end-user multiple options, bad things will happen!

The obvious place where this is exposed is the user’s email client. The default position from almost all collaboration platform providers is that they have a plugin for it. This is a dedicated button that the user presses in their email client that opens a specific type of pre-populated invite template. Then the user simply enters the email addresses of the people (and devices) they want to meet with and hit send. The joining details are included in the main body of the invite so the recipient simply has to click-to-join the meeting.

Now this is all fabulously flexible and simple, but where it goes wrong is if the user has multiple plugin buttons to choose from because they have to use disparate silos of technology based upon how they want to collaborate. If the user has one option for phone, another for web collaboration and another for video support then you are onto a loser before you’ve even begun.

So, in practice, what this means is that regardless of what type of collaborative session the user wants to organise, they should always do the same thing in the same way.

Implement a single plug-in solution that does not require the user to concern themselves with how many people are attending, where participants are, what type of device they have, or whether they are a co-worker or a guest.

If they need to book a room, then that same solution should use digital panels outside each room to show its status and pre-program the visual communications system so that it already knows how to join the meeting at the push of a button (preferably green).

It takes skill, time and above all research into your user requirements to implement a successful UC strategy around a single workflow. However, the benefits can be significant – whichever way you want to measure them.

Feel free to get in touch if you think your organisation could benefit from a single user workflow.