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BTLs, not BLTs, key to successful UC and collaboration deployments

Go ahead and knock yourself out making list upon list of the unified communications and collaboration elements you’d like to deploy in your enterprise. Lists are never a mistake, but Nemertes Research Vice President Irwin Lazar’s best advice on how to build a UCC roadmap is to forget about the technology. It’s an interesting point of view, particularly since Lazar kicked off the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando today to a standing-room-only crowd of IT professionals wanting to know how to build a UCC roadmap at a show where UC vendors are making about a million announcements.


With backup in the form of talking to hundreds of enterprises about UCC each year, Lazar makes a good point. UCC technology in a vacuum may be cool and new, but it can cost you big money and present lots of bad surprises in terms of who’s not using it and why. He urges that instead of looking at the technology, the UC question of choice should be how to help employees do their jobs. The major measure of UC success is how often employees use the capabilities available to them.


One of the problems that UCC brings with it is that the more ways enterprises have to collaborate, the more confusing the options have become. Despite social business tools and desktop video deployments, most employees rely on email first and foremost, Lazar says.


According to Lazar, communication of the most basic kind will guarantee greater UC success, with people inside the business talking to other people inside the business. Creating a Business Technology Liaison (BTL, not to be confused with a BLT) team is a critical success factor when designing a UC deployment that has a chance of working, he says. BTLs are preferably designated employees with IT backgrounds who are charged with explaining and socializing the UC effort to the business side of the house and finding out who really wants to use what. BTLs also need to ensure that employees in all business units are aware of new UC rollouts and know how to use them.


Recent Nemertes surveys show that 81% of companies have someone in a BTL role, even if they don’t call it that, and 63% of those BTLs have IT backgrounds, according to recent Nemertes data.


“Depending on the size of the company, one is usually not enough,” Lazar said, adding that enterprises planning UCC deployments have at least one BTL per business unit in place for the rollout and keep the team in place over time to deal with issues as they come up.


No matter how the BTLs connect — video conference, webcast, social media or actual telephone — they almost guarantee better adoption and use of UC technology. The use of social tools, for example, is exploding, but often outside of ITs’ knowledge within different business units. Lazar maintains that BTLs have a key role to play and are a must-have for any UC roadmap so business units from legal to HR to IT itself know what collaboration apps are available so the left hand can talk to the right.

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