The Continuant Blog

Lessons from Bowie and Frey: Unified Communications Changes and The Long Run

By Jon Shelby -->
Unified Communications Changes Over Time

This month, the world saw the passing of two rock icons: David Bowie and Glenn Frey.  Although both artists made a significant impact in the world of music, they have also taught lessons that we apply to the world of unified communications and IT.

David Bowie made a huge impact on the rock scene over his decades-long career.  Before Bowie, there was never (and probably never will be) an artist that better represented “change”.  He was an artist that was constantly reinventing himself.  From Space Oddity to Ziggy Stardust to the White Duke to his pop era of the ‘80’s (which, as a quick side note, introduced the world to the late guitar great Stevie Ray Vaughn in China Girl), Bowie was the quintessence of change.

By contrast, Glenn Frey was a paragon of consistency and was most notable as a founding member of one of the greatest rock groups of all time.  From the early days of the Eagles to his solo career and back to the Eagles, Frey’s music was consistent. Frey’s music was a blend of his Motown roots, Don Henley’s Texas country sound, and Los Angeles’ laid back rock.  Frey and Henley often collaborated on song writing, including on their hit, “The Long Run”.

Even if you like rock history as much as I do, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with our usual subjects around unified communications and IT managed services… I’m getting there.

Unified Communications Changes and The Long Run

It is fair to say the one constant in unified communications (UC) these days is change—and change is occurring even more rapidly with the widespread movement of emerging technologies such as Cloud and SIP.  Change has become so commonplace that we often forget to take a breath and look at The Long Run—that is, the big picture.

The big picture–a business’ drivers and goals for its IT and business communications–should drive a company to make unified communications changes.  The reality, however, is that we sometimes make technology changes simply because we feel like we need to change in order to accomplish something.  I’d like to think that both Bowie and Frey would agree that change for the sake of change is not accomplishing anything—change must support the big picture.

The SIP Example

Let’s take at a very relevant example: Session Initiated Protocol (SIP).  That new SIP phone is cool and definitely has its place to make a business impact, but is replacing the digital phone with a shiny SIP gadget a business-oriented priority?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

The promise that IP/SIP telephones can save significant dollars in operation and management costs may not be realized for one business and it may be for another.  The tools and management required to operate a SIP infrastructure are certainly more expensive than those required to operate digital.  Digital phones don’t require an expensive tool to monitor user experience, or a $50/hour engineer to manage the systems (the $20/hour phone tech always does the job just fine).  SIP does provide huge advantages in areas where it can represent significant cost savings, but that change must have a positive business-related outcome for the business units involved.

While there is no doubt that SIP will replace digital phones in the long run, each business must consider when big changes—like SIP implementation—is going to best impact the business. Are the business units going to be more productive, reduce costs, and be more competitive when the change is implemented?  If the answer is not “yes”, it may be a case of change for the sake of change, not change for the business’ benefit.  A change that doesn’t improve the business unit costs the business unit.

The Skype for Business Example

I was recently talking to an IT manager at a Fortune 500 company.  The enterprise had spent the last two years deploying Skype for Business.  They eliminated desk phones, gave users headsets, and set them loose to work.  A few weeks later, as he walked around the office, the IT Manager noticed one thing in common amongst users—they were all using their cell phones to make calls (and no, they weren’t using the Skype for Business app). This switch to Skype for Business for voice represents a change that was implemented for change’s sake.  While there were many factors affecting the success of that Skype for Business implementation, it didn’t work for this enterprise’s users and it wasn’t positively impacting the enterprise and its IT team.

The Musical Summary

In closing, let us not forget the lessons of David Bowie and Glenn Frey…

Take It Easy and don’t buckle from being Under PressureChanges are a great thing when they are applied as needed and on Time.  UC doesn’t need Heroes looking for Fame or Desperados trying to grab UC gold and Take It To The LimitHang On To Yourself and drive changes that positively impact business and don’t bring Sorrow to the users or business units.   Avoid Heartache Tonight and the need to Look Back In Anger.

Drive change that positively impacts business productivity in the long run.

Learn more about changes and the long run with Continuant → About Us

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