The Unified Communications Strategies Blog makes a great point in its “OCS: The Tech is the Easy Part” post from last week:

“OCS is not simply a phone system replacement, it”s more accurately a phone system alternative made possible by many emerging technologies.”

“Alternative” is right. Normally you have two lines “going out” – Internet connections and phone lines. One powers the computers, one the phones sitting beside them. If you switch to OCS-based VoIP, you”ll be running both services, IT and telecom, through Internet connections alone.

Incorporating telecom capability into the computer like this changes things. I don”t just mean the network, either. People”s ingrained behaviors about using phones will have to adjust.

I”ve written out some of the adjustments we”ve seen with new OCS 2007 clients below. Some are positive (they help you get things done), some are negative (adjustment will take a few tries).

There”s no longer a phone on every desk

(Negative)
VoIP capability now comes through every computer available. Desktop, laptop, smartphone. So long as there”s a mic and a speaker, you can talk. There are VoIP phones of course! But you won”t need them at every desk.

Out with the phone, in with the headset

(Positive)
If you”re making calls through your computer,you”ll naturally use a headset. For those of us with Bluetooth-enabled cellphones,this barely qualifies as an adjustment. (I included it for Larry in Accounting who hates any new technology and wants things like they were in 1990.)

All offices are closer

(Positive)
OCS runs its member list off Active Directory. So transferring calls to “the other office” means clicking a name instead of typing out memorized codes. A bit easier.

The interruption comes from the monitor

(Negative)
If the phone rings while you”re buried in work, you can let it go to voicemail. The ringing stops; no more reminder of the outside world. With OCS VoIP though, a new call pops up right there on your screen. Bzzzt, new call!
That will irritate you the first few times. You”ll realize you forgot to switch your Presence status to Busy or Do Not Disturb. You fix it and go back to work. (Or answer the call if it”s your boss!)
—–

The easiest way to head the negative adjustments off at the pass? Ask everyone for feedback before you start implementing OCS. “Get buy-in,” as the gurus say. If you know ahead of time you need to make such-and-such adjustments, you”re prepared to do it.

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