Polycom Employee

Guest Blog: Rob Bamforth - Principal Analyst, Business Communications, Quocirca Ltd


Rob Bamforth Quocirca 1.jpgIn the second of our series of blogs about the adoption of video, we look at simplicity and consistency. As technology advances the typical engineering response is to add more features - “we can make it better!” But this has changed in recent years, perhaps in part due to the influence of the late Steve Jobs, and Apple in general, towards “we can make it simpler!”


The term ‘ease of use’ has expanded into ‘user experience’ as realisation has dawned that it is not just about making the odd application or device easier to use, but the whole technology experience. Why? Because life is infused by a mass of different technologies and while diversity is good for innovation, too many variations makes everyday use more complicated.


An effective user experience is not only about simplicity, but also consistency.


Simplicity and consistency are inherent in many forms of communication. For example, dial tone describes the sound from phones when a handset is picked up (for phones that still have handsets!) signifying all the caller needs to do is enter a string of numbers and a device anywhere on the planet can respond. Whilst the term ‘webtone’ was relatively short lived in the 1990s, the concept of browser standards and a universal addressing system means that access to web content is also just as simple and universal.


It begs the question, why not take a similar approach with visual collaboration and communications?


Quocirca research shows that organisations with various flavours or versions of video conferencing systems struggled to engage their users. Different remote controls, unread instructions lost in meeting rooms and many last minute calls to help desks for support were typical symptoms of this struggle. In some cases, the problems were compounded in that different people, in different offices, supported different systems, so that employees travelling from office to office had to re-learn how to use what might be simple, yet slightly different technology at each location.


Result? User frustration and a tendency to leave systems under-used and not achieving the anticipated return on investment.


It should not be like this.


While many organisations have to cope with existing fleets of different video conferencing systems from a legacy of patchy investment, mergers or changes in suppliers, it is still possible to encourage user adoption by applying a more consistent approach.


First stabilise the situation. If different technologies are in place, identify which are being used well, and which are either out of date or too complicated. Plan a strategy for a phased simplification towards a single platform through a series of upgrades and replacements, but in the meantime sort out the basics - instruction and support.


Put in place a simple route for instructions and getting first line help, make them consistent in every location, irrespective of the technologies or people involved and also independent of the means of initiating the request for help - phone, email, text message. Ensure that this approach can scale across all types of users by having a thorough internal marketing plan to promote, explain and test that the simplified message is consistent and understood.


Once users have an experience they can rely on, it will build their confidence. Then their appetite for using the technology will grow and both individual employees and the business will benefit from increased adoption of the technology.


In case you missed the first blog in this series, it’s available here:

Positive behaviour and technology adoption




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