Tuesday, January 20, 2015

OK! I Give Up: Here Are The Secret Numbers That Will Make You Rich


by  Holger Reisinger

Last week, my blog was all about why you should not be so concerned about your UC deployment reaching financial ROI, and why you should focus on what is does for your company culture. This has set my inbox aglow with questions.


Since last week, I have been on the phone, e-mail, and instant messenger with several readers about last week’s post. I must say that while the interest and the sheer number of comments in my inbox have been stupendous, it has taken up quite a lot of my time to answer the questions. So, I figure that it is time to explain myself, so here goes: this is why you really should deploy UC.

UC: It is great for business, the bottom line, and it will ultimately ensure your company’s productivity, and your employees will love it - in a way that beats Lean projects with a vengeance. It did so for us at Jabra. In 2009, we put our money where our mouth was and decided to do our own UC mass deployment. We have not looked back since, and after a three-month period, when the project broke even, we could finally feel secure that what we had been preaching for years was actually the bona fide truth. Here are the results.

We could buy a company jet with the money saved on travel

We saw an instant savings on travel. We are a large organization with more than 20 sites, and we encourage remote working, as we feel we get the best specialists and workers by making location a non-issue. The savings on travel alone was so substantial, year after year, that we could have purchased our own company jet with the money saved.

The cost of mobile-to-mobile or fixed line to fixed line (or any combination of the two) calls between our Danish and Chinese R&D sites were reduced almost to nil as the UC roll out progressed, and our people began to use Lync, instant messenger, audio, and video conferencing in their daily internal communications. The same thing happened in phase three when we changed all of our fixed line desk phones to IP telephony, for both inbound and outbound external communications.

Remember, this is just the savings in terms of operating costs. Then, there is the whole issue of productivity. Let us say that each employee saves just 15 minutes a day, getting issues resolved quicker, getting answers when they need them, missing fewer calls, etc. That would be a huge savings of 54 working hours a year… that is more than the average workweek – and that is just for one employee. We experienced the rise of productivity as well.

The investment in the solution, built on our existing IT Infrastructure (e.g., fixed data lines to all regional sales offices) and Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (including MS Lync Enterprise CAL*), hardware, internal hours, conferencing equipment, headsets, and licenses amounted to 214,000 US dollars. The savings we made that year, excluding the much-improved collaboration and reduced travel costs, was, in return, a whopping one million US dollars. As our former CFO, Anders Boyer, said at the time: “The business case was almost too good to be true – and it proved to be even better than that.” A level-headed a statement as you would expect from a man like Anders! However, once the annual report was handed in that year, there was a rumor that the Global Finance team had a little party, but of course that is just office gossip.

Dell shaved one million US dollars off their telephony budget

Don’t take my word for it, I can understand it if you are skeptical. We are an organization in the UC industry, and our people are oriented to the process. So, let’s look at another example: Dell, the IT giant, shaved one million US dollars off their telephony budget and connected 100,000+ employees in 40 countries with their UC deployment. Mark Halle from Dell’s IT Infrastructure Management division says that soon after they deployed the Lync Servers, Dell was hosting more than 250,000 face-to-face meetings in-house, monthly. Now, they host about 2,000,000 minutes per month in audio/video conferencing alone, which is a significant jump in productivity for Dell. Also, the increased mobility and flexibility of the workforce has helped Dell reduce real estate, in some places at a ratio of up to 1:5, which could not have been done without the UC solution.

So, yes, there are all the soft issues: the culture, the community, and the collaboration that so many good people contacted me about last week, and then there are the hard ones: the software, the hardware, and the bottom line. But the truth is: it is really the communication, the culture, and the collaboration that matters. If you have all of that in place, and make sure that you nurture it every day, the bottom line will improve, and the productivity will rise as a matter of course – just because you have installed a piece of software and bought a headset – it is that easy!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why You Must Trust Your Gut and Take a Chance on UC


by  Holger Reisinger

In my opinion, an extreme focus on financial ROI in UC deployments is only half the truth of measuring your success. It is one thing to get UC for the money you will save and a quick way to reach your financial targets, but that is not why you should acquire it. It is because of the great corporate culture you will receive in return - and as we all know, culture eats strategy for breakfast, Monday through Sunday.



Seriously, you should see the change in corporate culture once UC is properly deployed. The change is outstanding. It gets me every time how much an organization, regardless of size, changes and becomes…“whole.” I have seen it with my own eyes, here at Jabra and had the privilege of following the transformation with companies around the world as part of the implementation process. Hearing the stories that come out of organizations, which have deployed successfully, will excite any seasoned professional. Never mind the great ROI and the increased innovation, if you want your company to have spirit, UC simply is where it is at. The reason? UC is about people and the way we interact with each other in stark difference to other types of organizational software, like ERP or CRM, to name a few.

Strategy

I am sure you recognize the Peter Drucker quote about how culture eats strategy for breakfast - and it is true. Culture at any organization will squash even the best strategy. However, with UC, you will have a much better chance of getting your company culture to comply with your strategy, because of the way your company perceives itself repeatedly, once connected. It is like holding a mirror up to your organization, every day. Your people will want to improve to get the best possible image reflected back to them. Ours did, and it gave us an opportunity to create a common purpose and spread the word through direct messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration.

Collaboration

With UC, your people will be enticed to collaborate more and will have the tools to do so. Collaboration across borders will now be possible, and your remote workers will be on an equal footing with your office-bound workers.

Community

On that note, UC builds your company community and strengthens bonds. More frequent and seamless interaction, both with in-house and dispersed teams, creates a feeling of community. The teams will be able to interact by video conferencing and instant messaging. Both will, in the short term, bring your employees much closer together as the interaction is daily. A yearly strategy, meeting face-to-face or a monthly business status call cannot compare with this facility.

People

Buy from people. This is equally true for your relationships with your customers as it is for your relationships with your employees and their relationship to their environment. Daily interaction using UC builds trust, not because of the equipment, but because of the communication and contact that your employees will experience. This often means that groups of people with a specific interest will come together. This usually happens naturally and organically, and you could find yourself with a whole new product to sell.

While none of the above will count as numbers on your bottom line in the short term, UC will solidify your company, increase the dynamics of collaboration, and create a culture and community which will, to some extent, self- govern and hold one another to the promise your company offers your customers. Because of the increased visibility, your remote specialists will no longer be a voice from the scratchy-sounding device in the middle of the conference table, but they will be seen and heard as an equal. In turn, they will offer you their commitment, expertise, and a fresh perspective.

It did it for us at Jabra. You know it is the right thing to do, and I hope you will take the plunge - you will not regret it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why read it, if you can watch it?


by  Louise Harder Fischer

In three weeks, my 15-year-old daughter is handing in her 9th grade school project. The assignment is; “Has the world gone crazy?” She has chosen the title of her project to be; “Digitalization of childhood”. She is handing in a video, NOT a written report!

As the year draws to a close, we can look back and note that the past 9 months, we have written a great deal here on the blog. Relevant content on how knowledge workers of all kinds can become super productive and happy agents at work and in their personal life by using the available and soon-to-come technology properly and thoughtfully. However, the next generation will, for the most part, not read a blog like this one - they will prefer a video – or maybe a screen shot, a text of no more than 250 words, or group chat on an open platform. Since you might spend the holidays with your teenager, I have chosen three videos you can watch together!




“The dancing guy” is basically three minute footage from a TED-talk about leadership, and on how an adoption of new behavior takes place. Watch it and follow! Link




A 2:30 minutes animation on how one e-mail becomes 64 e-mails will hopefully start a conversation with your teenager about e-mails, since she is not using it herself. Watch it and explain! Link



The secret about motivation and why autonomy, mastery, and purpose are so important in knowledge work. Daniel Pink’s talk is animated and lasts ten minutes. Link










Happy holidays ….Arrrghhhh 269

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why Confucius Would Recommend That You Buy Video Equipment


by  Holger Reisinger

A man will follow your lead till the end of the world, if you let him share the cause. I cannot remember when or where I heard this, but it has been resounding in my head for the past week or so. I think it strikes an essential cord when it comes to successfully managing and developing true excellence from teams, both dispersed and office-based.


Creating a common vision and purpose, one that your teams can make their own, is of ultimate importance if you want commitment, excellence, and perseverance. While this type of commitment is as rare and precious as diamonds, it can be yours with a little planning.This is why I suggest that you take the advice of the fourth century Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and buy some video equipment.

This was true for me when, in 2008, I was heading up the Jabra EMEA Central sales team out of Germany. We were tasked with executing a brand new strategic approach, including new products and value propositions. It was a big change for many of my people who were spread all over EMEA. This was where I felt, first-hand, the power of the 1,600-year-old quote by the visionary Confucius, and it is as valid today as it was back then. He said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Dictating strategy and policy will (according to Confucius, many a global team manager and myself) cause your wise words and carefully crafted plans to go in one ear and out the other. Adding a couple of hundred PowerPoint slides will make it stick with your otherwise disciplined and professional teams for approximately 21 days before everything goes back to normal. While getting your team to engage with the strategy, hands on and face-to-face, will provide you with the path for success.

Building trust is the key

My team at the time was comprised of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Arabs, Austrians and Dutch, and face-to-face meetings were just not possible. Yet, we had to break down the barriers and push through. It took some clever team engineering, and I eventually broke it down into four steps:

Get the team together for a virtual meet and greetOnce you are ready to kick off, have a meeting where you share your passion for the strategy. The meeting should include sections where each member of your team gets to speak as long as it takes for everyone to feel as if they have chipped in and have made it their own. Allow plenty of time for team members to get to know each other better, personally and professionally. This meeting is also for getting the ground rules and infrastructure in place.

Create the rules for communication
When time is short and you need results, establishing rules on how and when to communicate is pivotal. Virtual teams benefit from video meetings where everyone meets in close proximity, face-to-face, discussing best practice and obstacles. In this way, everyone will experience that the contextual and emotional cues — such as commitment to the project - will come through quite clearly.

Get the best communication technologies for the job
Collaborative, shared workspaces, social platforms, and multi-point video conferencing will make your and your team’s life easier. When you organize this, make sure that all members of your team have equal access and know how to make the equipment work. Teams will drop technology like hot potatoes if it takes 20 minutes to set up or connect. It is essential for your team to be able to do, share, and get under the skin of the project. Technology will need to be a friend.

Share the leadershipYou do not have to run everything yourself. Don’t fall into the micromanagement pit. Involving others in the leadership team will foster commitment, buy in, and drive. Trust me, you will get much more than you give by doing this. By sharing leadership, you will not only increase commitment but also be even greater at what you do as a leader.

The people who led the EMEA project to success with me are still with the company today. As such intense projects often go, once the job was done, I know that we all felt elated with just the tiniest twinge of regret of no longer being part of the tightly knit project team, and I know they still check in on each other now and then.

The way I feel is that it is all about people and the ability to fuel an existing need for purpose and vision. You can do this with the help of Confucius, because it is not about the glitzy, glamorous features of your technology solution, but rather it is how you connect to, engage with, and commit to the people who use it and how their actions can change the world.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Switch Off for Business’ Sake!


by  Holger Reisinger

The expectation of being online around the clock is a fact of corporate life. However, in my opinion, constant availability has a few significant flaws that I think are bad for us as people and bad for business.


I was at the dentist the other day, sitting in the waiting room, waiting my turn; I picked up the latest issue of Time Magazine from the surprisingly well-stocked and up to date magazine collection. The lead story of the issue was about how wearables are going to change the way we are online, by their very nature, strapped to the wrist. It was quite unsettling in a very Kurt Vonnegut kind of way. So I was almost glad to hear my name called.

Since then, I read the piece in its entirety and it has played in the back of my mind. I have decided that while the article may paint a grim picture, it has a point. You will never be offline again and you will have to find a way to deal with that fact. Because only then will we succeed in living reasonably balanced lives which let us disconnect from the fever pitch pace of the online world.

Bad habits are a waste of time 

First of all, the constant pressure of information, emails, texts and messaging will force even the most productive and experienced professionals on their heels. If you try to keep up, you will end up just commenting on other people’s work, never getting beyond the tactical level and never having time or space to form a single strategic thought of your own. I have seen this happening and it is not pretty. Worst of all, working this way can become a habit that is hard to kick, removing any kind of strategic foundation for decision making, which, as we all know, is bad for business. So what do we do? We can’t just switch off. I am going to suggest a radical notion, but stay with me… Yes, we can! Moreover, we must, for the sake of our mental health and for the sake of our businesses.The expectation of being online around the clock is a fact of corporate life. However, in my opinion, the constant availability has a few significant flaws that I think are bad for us as people and bad for business.

We need to change our habits and our perception of the truth. Just a little bit. You as a person have to stay in charge so you are not suddenly ruled by your devices. I love technology and find it very useful in my everyday life. I am talking about striking a balance. First of all, switch off now and again, allowing time to talk to people, interact and experience things that give you energy, inspiration, and ultimately make you more interesting company to those around you. Once in a while, when I get too engrossed with work, which happens to everybody occasionally, I have to reboot. When that is the case, I start with something easy, like visiting a family member or going for a walk outside of my usual habitat, without my smartphone, to get me back on track.

However, there are other ways, and you don’t have to take up paragliding or venture off in a mad dash to climb K4 and prove to the world, and yourself, that you are now truly off the grid. Have lunch with your colleagues while your smartphone stays safely in your pocket. Do it tomorrow! This will revamp your network and offer quality interaction. In addition, you get to hear what people are working on, which will give you a fresh perspective and ideas, and you may actually learn a thing or two. You can always email and text, but the face-to-face interaction will bring other topics and trains of thought to light and great things can happen.

Unchecked streams of email will tire you out

Email can be a blessing and a curse. I have started to use instant messenger much more and have asked not to be CC’ed on every single process mail. This has helped tremendously on the internal mail-load; however, I still round around a hundred mails in a 24-hour period. This used to stress me out, as I was always trying to keep up, until I realized that this was never going to happen, and that the answer is “choice”. I now choose what to follow closely and when to respond, and getting out of the toils of the instant response craze has made all the difference. I truly recommend it.

Another good way to get time to yourself is to earmark time or space. I don’t answer emails on Sundays before noon, as a matter of course. The sky would have to be on the verge of falling before I head for the keyboard on those precious mornings. Sunday mornings are for coffee and doing things offline, like reading an actual paper or nothing at all. This block of earmarked offline time gives me more inspiration than a full day at my desk. 

You can vary the theme endlessly; go to the gym, the theater, a seminar, talk to your friends. Blocking time and going to the dentist can have similar effect, especially if your dentist, like mine, does not have Wi-Fi!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Bracelet, a Watch and a Pair of Sunglasses Will Define Your Future Success


by  Holger Reisinger,

Never mind your smartphone. A new generation of wearable devices are coming and they will revolutionize the way we do business. A big statement on the back of a smartwatch launch, you might say. Yes maybe, but wearable devices will soon do more than just being a really expensive pedometer: they will be a revolution for the industry, and I think it will change the professional world.

I am going to get a smartwatch. I am not going to lie to you, I am going to have to try one out and I am itching to get my hands on it. I hope that when I do so, it will change my world profoundly. Remember when you got your first smartphone? If you are like me, you remember the day like it was yesterday. Never before did I feel so exhilarated and mystified when I transferred the SIM card from my much-loved N95 to a brand new IPhone. Little did I know, like the rest of the world I am sure, the real implications of being always-on.

According to a survey from last year by New York based app company Locket, users unlock their phones on an average of 110 times a day, 23 times a day for messaging, 22 times for voice calls, and 18 times to get the time. The remaining times may well be to check their twitter account during meetings, but I am just speculating. The survey, however, has an interesting point: before our devices got smart, life was profoundly different and for better or worse, being connected 24/7 has changed us and the world, and it is just about to get a whole lot smarter.

Wearables are here to stay

Wearables, as a category, have existed a long time. The first smartwatch saw the light of day in 1971 with the launch of the digital watch with built-in calculator and then came Bluetooth headsets, heart rate monitors and pedometers. The difference between then and now is that the wearables created before have been reactive, a tool, something we could pick up and use when we needed to make a call while on the road, count our steps, or indeed calculate something exceedingly difficult at the spur of the moment. The new devices are a part of us even more than the smartphone is. Perching on our wrist, they will actively alert us of the going-ons in the outside world as they happen – and that is new.

It is also the reason I think that the new technology will take some getting used to, and why the category itself may not be an overnight success with the consumer. I am sure that it will happen, but aside from the obvious data and security issues that these devices pose, it is the reality of always on – right on your wrist, all the time – that I think will be the biggest hurdle the category will face. However, I think smart devices will be a hit with business.

In a report by Techpro from April of this year, a full 92% of the professionals asked were interested in wearables for business. 11 percent have already allocated budget and 25 percent are planning to allocate budget to purchase and implement wearables in their organization. This follows the early adopter and early mainstream purchase pattern to a T. The survey also states that the healthcare industry, business services/consulting, IT, and technology sectors are the most eager to deploy.

These professions share in common that they are not exclusively deskbound yet reliant on real-time information to work effectively. This tells me that we are back to the familiar concepts of value and communication. How can we benefit from these devices? If the doctors and consultants can benefit from real-time information, what about the factory floor and education professionals? If those issues are highlighted, the category holds enormous potential. A conversation needs to get started on the true value of wearables in business. I am sure that the market will warm up as soon as apps are available and the industry informs decision makers of the uses and values of the devices in their field of business. After all, the category has a lot of work to do if it is going to meet the predicted $19 billion worldwide spending on wearable technology by 2018.

In any case, I am going to do my bit to get them there by ordering my first device online right now. I’ll let you know how I get on.