The biggest challenge faced by organisations implementing unified communications and collaboration technologies is not the technology itself. The real challenge begins where the technology ends it's the users. There are a plethora of collaboration tools available to the today's information worker. The trick for users is going to be picking the right tool for the job.
More importantly this is going to be a huge challenge for corporate IT. They face teaching the user population - many of whom are still coming to terms with email - what tools are available and when to use which one.
Even organisations that have deployed several components of the unified communications story have this problem. In fact, even the organisations that sell the components of the unified communications story have this problem. If fact it may even be worse for them because they get blinkered and focus on their tools, because when you have a warehouse full of hammers everything looks like a nail.
This has recently been reinforced for me by some of the interactions I have with several partner organisations.
For example, I was wanting to get some stuff off a colleague at Microsoft and it was going to be too big to email. He suggested he could throw up an internet facing SharePoint server so I could download them. Wrong tool. Creating a SharePoint portal site requires a fair bit of setup, requires a server to be provisioned and requires user accounts to created and communicated.
Groove is a better tool for this. Simply create a Groove workspace and email an invite to the person you want to collaborate with. SharePoint is a great tool within the organisation, but collaboration that spans corporate boundaries is what Groove was designed for.
I've been invited a couple of times over the last few weeks (as part of a group) to go to IBM so they can demo their collaboration suite. It has been cancelled twice because of scheduling problems. If we all have to go there it can't be a very good collaboration solution. In fact the technology is not the problem - IBM have WebEx, which is a fairly good online meeting and collaboration tool. Wouldn't it be better to have the meeting online and have it three or four weeks sooner? Or should we just keep playing calendar tag until Christmas?