I was recently involved in an executive brief for a customer that had an interesting result for myself. I was not the main presenter but more of an 5 minute addition to help the main presenter. The idea was that I was to speak about my previous experience with OCS from a deployment perspective since I had been a customer in the not so distant past. A few days before I was to attend I was going over in my mind about what I was going to hit on in my 5 minute presentation and what would have impact that would be beneficial to the customer.
It really wasn’t till the day of the presentation that I actually put the pieces together with something that was really impactful. My idea for my 5 minute presentation was driving adoption by using more of the UC stack. In my previous position I had worked heavily on the telephony side of an OCS pilot of about 300 users. I consider the pilot pretty successful but not the success I had hoped for. I was hoping for amazing results and for some reason it just was not. The pilot included IM, Presence and telephony on OCS 2007 R1. Usage on the telephony side was good at about 100K a month but I thought this could potentially be a lot higher. I was noticing that some people were using it a lot and getting great value and others not so much.
So with that in mind the company made the upgrade to OCS R2 and we started a trial with OCS dial-in conferencing, data sharing and other new features on R2. The original piloting of the dial-in conferencing feature was about 20-30 people. Not high enough to get solid data but enough to make sure things were working well. I started to notice that once people got the outlook plugin installed they really loved this option and usage was indeed being to increase even among those that hadn’t used telephony much in the initial pilot.
Well things change and amidst the pilot I had a change of job and moved on from my previous position at company X to Microsoft. Interesting enough the company I had left were now in my geography as a customer and I was able to catch up with one of the engineers and get an update on the progress at company X. I was glad to hear that they had expanded their dial-in conferencing pilot to all those original pilot participants. It became more interesting once I saw the usage statistics after the pilot expansion. Usage had doubled for the telephony feature. Not just because now they were dialing into OCS audio conferences but telephony usage in general.
What I realized though this is the original pilot participants weren’t seeing enough value in just make a switch to the PC because all still had their desk phone in place for telephony. We weren’t mean enough to remove their desk phone so they had a choice and a large number just kept using the desk phone rather than go to the trouble of learning something new. I don’t buy the whole argument that generation x,y,z whatever just want a telephone handset and don’t want to change. I think people in general will change when they see value and that’s what happened when company X added new features with OCS R2. Some of the new features like desktop sharing weren’t even advertised, people just saw others using them and it took off more virally than anything else.
So my message was simple. By using more of the UC stack, adoption rates increased and people got more value. Just by upgrading versions from R1 to R2 had no effect until the new features were piloted and people saw more value to make the switch to a PC endpoint from the standard desktop phone. After I presented the CIO and one of the directors thanked me for my 5 minute presentation with director saying he was trying to write down everything I was saying and having trouble keeping up. That’s when I knew my story had impact.