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Train Your End-Users to Avoid Collaboration Pitfalls

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The last several months have seen a massive acceleration in the delivery of new, AI-powered, unified communications and collaboration features. In a market with near-ubiquitous adoption of video-enabled meetings and a rapid increase in the use of team collaboration applications, vendors are focusing on differentiation through agile delivery of features designed to improve ease of use, experiences, and productivity. Some examples include:
 
  • Virtual personal assistants that capture meeting notes and transcripts, action items, highlights, and may even translate meetings into different languages in real-time
  • Enhanced audio and video designed to block out background noise and improve appearances, especially in low light, or back-lit conditions
  • Meeting options including breakout rooms, tiered seating, and enhanced host controls to protect against unwanted crashers
  • Team collaboration improvements in security, cross-company collaboration, and integrated calling and meetings
 
These enhancements are being delivered at a dizzying rate, creating significant challenges, including the potential to overwhelm users with an ever-increasing array of new features that they lack time to understand and learn how to use correctly.
 
In the age of cloud, new feature delivery often gets controlled by the software vendor and not the customer. IT organizations can no longer follow their tried and true methodology of controlling upgrade rollouts to ensure sufficient time for documentation and training of end-users as well as support personnel. The old ways of delivering application upgrades are no longer viable.
 
Unfortunately, our research at Nemertes suggests many IT organizations are ill-equipped for this change. Not only are many still struggling with the massive shift to work-from-home over the last few months. But nearly half of the companies we recently benchmarked are still in the process of shifting from on-premises to cloud, or are working to consolidate disparate applications that were quickly introduced by both IT and shadow-IT to enable newly virtual teams to communicate and collaborate.
 
Historically, IT shops have rarely had the capabilities in place, or the mandate to market new capabilities to end-users to ensure they are benefitting from, and know how to use them. Without a structured user awareness and adoption program, organizations are incapable of benefitting from the rapid delivery of new features. Even worse, they may see a reduction in productivity as users struggle with rapidly changing user interfaces and feature sets.
 
Now, more than ever, IT leaders must take a proactive approach to equip end-users with the training they need to quickly adapt and benefit from new collaboration features. A successful approach includes the following:
 
  • Assigning staff whose job it is to develop training and awareness programs
  • Establish use cases to drive feature adoption. For example, if automated note-taking and action item capture via a virtual assistant reduces the time spent on meeting follow-up by 15%, that results in the additional time available for more productive tasks
  • Set appropriate metrics to measure specific feature adoption and utilization
  • Create a budget for training and management tools. With so much of the workforce now remote, training should focus on web-based tools that provide distance learning and that enable instructors to gauge the level of knowledge delivered to home workers.
  • Leverage existing capabilities to promote awareness. For example, a team collaboration channel dedicated to “what’s new” is a good vehicle for promoting new feature enhancements and training opportunities
  • Conduct regularly scheduled as well as on-demand training. Making such training mandatory, or coupling it with morale boosting efforts such as a free lunch delivery card can drive attendance.
  • Continue to measure not only feature adoption, but value gained. Use surveys as well as management tools to determine if employees are benefitting from new features, what challenges they are facing, and how to address them.
The reality, thanks to AI and competitive market dynamics, is that new feature delivery by collaboration vendors is likely to accelerate. IT and business leaders must focus on deriving value from these new capabilities by proactively training and managing their workforce.

About Nemertes: Nemertes is a global research-based advisory and consulting firm that analyzes the business value of emerging technologies. Since 2002, we have provided strategic recommendations based on data-driven operational and business metrics to help organizations deliver successful technology transformation to employees and customers. Simply put: Nemertes’ better data helps clients make better decisions.

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