Guest Blog: Rob Bamforth - Principal Analyst, Business Communications, Quocirca Ltd
Video conferencing usage and breadth of adoption varies across organisations that have installed video systems. All will have approached what is often a significant investment with good intentions to obtain the most benefit, but some will have struggled to obtain the level of usage that they anticipated. There may be many reasons for this, but from Quocirca research, encompassing over 1,800 Polycom video conferencing users in organisations worldwide, there are several good practices that emerge which can boost regular usage and encourage wider adoption. This is the first of a series of blogs which look in turn at different aspects of positive behaviour that have led to greater adoption of video, for the benefit of both the organisation as well as individual employees.
Video conferencing technology has improved significantly over the last couple of decades, but there is still a lingering legacy of a lack of confidence. Will it work? Will it overload the network? Will users need constant handholding? Will we be seen to have made the right investment?
It might seem like a leap into the unknown, but many organisations have moved ahead with video conferencing and benefitted from it. There is of course the well-established opportunity for saving travel time and costs, but our research of over 800 worldwide video conferencing users, showed that more than half rated better team work, individual productivity and decision making as the next highly important benefits.
What brings these benefits is widespread adoption - is video accessible and used by as many people as possible, is it in as many locations as they need it, and is it used sufficiently frequently to impact team and individual effectiveness?
First impressions are critical to widespread usage. It might seem like the hard work has been done once the research phase has moved to evaluation and then purchasing to delivery, but this is only the start. The next steps through successful deployment and user adoption require concerted and co-ordinated effort.
Video conferencing systems combine sophisticated IT, network and audio visual equipment, but they also have an impact on people and facilities - meeting room planning and usage. From day one all these aspects need to be considered, and this is one of the areas where having an excellent relationship with the supplier is essential. They have experience from assisting other organisations (and hopefully through their own internal use) and can help co-ordinate the initial phases of installation and organisation-wide plans for use.
It is also vital that an allowance for this first phase had been set aside in the budget. Any attempt to take short cuts to avoid spending on what is required during the installation and early use period will undermine the entire investment. User discomfort with video and systems perceived as too complicated are the main issues that limit the acceptance and use of video. Time and money spent on getting a stable and simple setup from the outset will help build confidence.
To ensure this scales, the people who are the intended users of the system need to be involved as early in the process as possible. Formal training might be seen as a good first option, but busy workers (and their managers) begrudge too much time being taken to receive training on something they feel should be almost as simple as making a phone call.
However, they will need initial familiarity with any new system, and subsequently new employees will need to be given a positive introduction. For this reason, rather than formal training, an informal process of induction and familiarisation should be the priority. This could be done in an entertaining or light-hearted way, not to trivialise the investment, but to boost confidence and identify potential natural video users. These people could be given additional support and nurtured to become internal video champions to foster ongoing usage and adoption.
Getting video systems out of the box might be the first stage of deployment, but the real value comes from getting them into the hearts, minds and daily working lives of employees.