If you have a work-related pain point, you can likely find all kinds of tools to “fix it” by searching the “symptoms” online. A shiny new tool, released within the last week.  When the average smart phone owner uses 30 apps per month, it is a little wonder that our phones, desktops and browser favorite bars have become cluttered with the latest apps that were downloaded and subsequently forgotten just as quickly as they were installed.  Tool fatigue is real.

One of the implications of an ever-increasing mobile and technology-driven workforce is the shift in human communication with apps and tools. In an effort to boost productivity, companies are purchasing upwards of eight tools to help increase productivity.  But all these tools are also contributing to a new business phenomenon – tool fatigue. 18% of workers stated they are actively disengaged in their day-to-day work. Could tool fatigue actually hamper productivity?

employee suffering from tool fatigue

Do you have tool fatigue?  

There’s a tool for everything—a productivity tool, a chat tool, a video conference app, a CRM, an email client, a calendar, a dialer, collaboration app… the list goes on.  There are also apps/tools for role specific tasks. Marketing may use a listening app for social mentions and another tool to broadcast content across multiple social channels. Customer Service may use a call center to speak to customer, an email client to answer emails and another client to respond via web chat.  It is no wonder that our workforce is tiring of the apps and devices needed to get through a workday.

How Many Tools Were Used to Craft This Blog?

Let’s take the example of all the composition tools I used myself to craft this blog post.  I started writing in Microsoft Word, saved it to our team Dropbox, made a few changes and emailed it to myself to review while away from my desk.  While on the go I made edits in the Evernotes tool on my phone, then back at my desk and transferred them the document in Dropbox.  Once the content was finalized, I transferred the content to WordPress. And I haven’t even mentioned the tools I used for research, graphics and SEO work.  This toggling back and forth between tools has the potential to impact productivity.

Human Communication is the Foundationof Business

While technology has increased communication, how we communicate has become more complex.  Employees have a phone on their desk, soft phone on their computer, mobile phone apps, internal IM, external IMs (e.g. Google chat) and a variety of email interfaces. All provide the same basic function – the ability to communicate internally and externally.  But often these multiple tools and interfaces do not talk to each other.  A contact in an internal IM group may not show up in the external IM interface. A desktop call doesn’t seamlessly transfer to your mobile when it runs long and you need to get to you next meeting.

As our workforce becomes more agile and even more mobile, a unified communications and collaboration solution can help facilitate seamless communication. Imagine a quick IM chat and wanting to share a document.  Rather than saving to Dropbox or Google docs, you can use the same chat app to share your desktop, work together in real time while being able to move the chat to a call with a single click in the same application – whether you are working on your desktop, laptop, or tablet. A “single pane of glass” that keeps everyone on the same page without opening multiple tools.

The Ultimate Goal: Keep it Simple

It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of offering your company a range apps and services to help boost productivity. But maybe its time to take a step back and ask whether you could simplify, and unify, the tools you provide to communicate? Combat tool fatigue with a single tool that encompasses communication, document sharing, project management.

When looking for a unified communication system to evaluate, there are several questions to be asked at a leadership level.   We recommend reviewing the Unified Communicators Buyer Guide:  The Top Ten Requirements for a UC Solution for a deep dive.  The basic questions/requirements it discusses revolve around:

  1. Baseline communication features
  2. Management features
  3. Collaboration tools
  4. Security
  5. Reliability
  6. Scalability
  7. BYOD support
  8. Virtualization
  9. Cloud options
  10. Total cost ownership

One of the most important take a ways from this study is the recommendation to pick a partner to grow with and not simply a supplier. Having a partner to help review how your office currently communicates and improving on that process is the key to a successful UCC deployment – and be the first step in curing communication tool fatigue in your office.

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