We can connect and collaborate like never before, but it takes careful planning and management of the entire ecosystem to reduce time lost in unproductive meetings.
Ding. Another meeting invite. Another critical meeting invite. It was my eighth for the morning, which is not unusual, but this one got me thinking. It arrived just after a meeting with an organization that had called us in to help with a challenge related to its collaboration tools:
Despite all the advances in technology allowing us to collaborate more effectively,
the productivity of the everyday meeting hasn't actually improved.
Collaboration tools like Skype for Business, WebEx, and GoTo Meeting have made "face to face" meetings much easier. However, in many cases, networks have not been able to keep up with the bandwidth demand or changing requirements of modern applications, often resulting in substandard experiences for meeting participants.
Over the past couple of months, ever since my moment of enlightenment, I have become keenly aware of how infrequently meetings start on time. What I have found -- albeit from a sample of one -- is the average online meeting usually starts between 5 to 10 minutes late, and that the delayed start can easily grow to 15 to 20 minutes. For actual time lost multiply the number of minutes late by the number of participants -- it adds up quickly.
Even when everyone is present and accounted for on time, participants still have other challenges with which to contend; I'm sure everyone has heard the litany: Can you hear me now? Is anyone there? I can see Pete is on the call; Pete can you hear us? I'm sharing my screen; can you see what I'm presenting? And so on.
Now, the time lost is one thing -- according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, wasted time in meetings costs the U.S. economy more than $37 billion annually -- but it also opens up a whole other can of worms. As people battle with the technology provided by their organizations, they begin to introduce alternate solutions they find work better for them. This not only has cost impacts, as the number of conferencing solutions grows, but also can lead to security issues as the introduction of non-IT supplied and supported resources increases.
The collaboration benefits UC has delivered to organizations are many, but without a good plan for user adoption; internal customer satisfaction feedback loops; performance monitoring and optimization; effective real-time troubleshooting; and root cause repairs, costs are bound to go up and user satisfaction down.
Here are five suggestions for maximizing the successful use of collaboration tools in delivering more productive meetings (minimizing the hidden security and cost escalations):
- Organizations and IT teams need to be proactive about driving satisfaction beyond the deployment and training on new systems and technology
- Knowing about problems in the network, devices, meeting rooms, PCs, etc. in advance of them becoming widespread issues reduces far-reaching negative impact
- Spend time planning in advance and looking for potential blind spots in a successful deployment. Time spent well in testing the network capability and planning saves issues down the track
- Allocate time to review system performance and read customer/user feedback
- Take action to identify root causes of technical problems, outside of the meeting tools, that can lead to lower satisfaction and higher IT operational costs
Most issues are caused not by the collaboration tools themselves but on the interdependency between them and the underlying technology stacks on which they run. Find performance management solutions that give you the ability to manage your ecosystem holistically and in real time.
UC technologies have enabled us to connect and collaborate like never before, but it takes careful planning and management of the entire ecosystem to reduce time lost in unproductive meetings.