Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing - UC for SMB recently published a great article on the value that SMBs can get from Unified Communications.

One of the companies they spoke to, Celina Insurance, provides some insight into the value they see and how they got their workforce - with a median age of 56, no less - to adopt instant messaging and UC capabilities.

At first, there was some resistance over things like interruptions.  I think Robert Schoenfelt, Celina's CIO, did a great job of responding:  "The CIO quashed their annoyance. 'When you can tell me when the phone is going to ring, I'll tell you when you're going to get a message,' he told them."

The article continues to explain other ways they helped spread adoption of IM inside the company.

Then there was the top-down acceptance at Celina when employees realized that the company CEO had learned the technology. "There was a picture of him in his leather jacket and sunglasses [with his identity on the site]. People said, 'If he's going to use it, I guess I'm going to do it, too,'" Shoenfelt laughs.

Ultimately, acceptance came once incoming requests were handled more easily, eliminating backlog, and people could suddenly work at home as efficiently as at the office. "Everybody latched on," Shoenfelt says, adding that Sametime changed the culture of the company.

Akiba Saeedi also brought up an essential point about seeing adoption and value of UC - integrating it into your business applications and processes:

Akiba Saeedi, IBM's program director of unified communications and collaboration, calls it the "stickiness factor." UC is more likely to be accepted when you "inject it into the [existing] business process" to simplify employees' lives.

If you're not familiar with Celina's story, head on over here to read the full case study.  They've seen some really remarkable benefits from the use of this technology, including:
  • 50 percent reduction in phone calls and costs due to instant messaging
  • 40 percent reduction in head count while maintaining the same volume of business due to streamlined processes
  • Policy turnaround times reduced from weeks to days by integrating and automating business processes that span Celina and its agents