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User Adoption: The Importance of a Good Plan

It’s the most magical time of the year -- of course I mean Enterprise Connect season.


Once again I get to present on one of my favorite topics -- unified communications and collaboration end-user adoption. I’ll be moderating an end-user adoption panel on Wednesday, March 20, at 2:00 p.m., featuring several IT leaders who have “been there, done that,” and will share their experiences related to end-user adoption programs.


You’ll get to hear IT leaders from Northwestern Mutual, which has 110 offices in the U.S.; Laureate Interational Universities, a worldwide organization that owns 40 universities; and National Bank of Canada, or BNC. These companies all have very different UCC deployments, vendors, and ways of approaching end-user adoption, and I expect a lively discussion about best practices, false starts, and plans for ongoing success. Expect to walk away with practical guidance and best practices for end-user adoption.
Why Is Adoption Important?
I often get asked why user adoption is so important for UCC deployments. The answer is quite simple -- if workers aren’t actually using the UCC tools their companies give them, these companies don’t get the expected returns on their investments. As one of the panelists told me during a session planning call, “Any time you do a technology transition, having it as an IT project is doomed for failure. There has to be a partnership with end users to embrace the technology and become the advocates.”


According to a Dimension Data Connected Enterprise Report, one out of four IT departments measure success by how well they’ve implemented the technology, rather than what comes after the implementation. Organizations need to put equal emphasis on implementation and adoption to get the value out of their investments.
You Need a Plan
Getting the most out of your UCC investment requires focusing on usage and adoption, rather than simply making the technology work. Developing an end-user adoption strategy can help your workers navigate through the transition to new UCC tools more easily, while ensuring that your organization gets the most out of the tools you’ve invested in. Your strategy should involve several key elements:


Sponsorship team and evangelists -- It’s essential to have evangelists and cheerleaders to spread the word and set the example for using and adopting the new UCC tools. The sponsorship team should include a variety of line-of-business (LoB) workers from around the organization, as well as C-level and IT staff representatives. Additionally, identify “power users” who can be advocates and help drive usage. One of the session panelists recently told me that he created an Ambassador Program that included a team of LoB workers and power users who helped encourage people throughout the company to go to training, attend workshops, etc. to learn more about the new technology. This greatly helped to increase adoption, he reported.


The right solution -- Purchase and deploy the right solution for your business and workers, while focusing on end-user needs. It’s important to survey end users to identify what features and capabilities they need, as well as what workflows need to be integrated to ensure you’ve selected the optimal solution.


As you’ll hear from my panelist from Northwestern Mutual, the company achieved a high rate of user adoption in part by selecting a UCC service that best met employee needs, is easy to use and intuitive, and requires minimal training.


Internal marketing -- Build awareness and excitement before deploying the solution. From webinars, to posters, gamification, and internal social media, help prepare end users for the new tools. As one of the panelists told me, “Companies need a communications plan -- you can’t just shove it down the end users’ throats. Once you get people excited it will lower the barrier of resistance. The biggest issue to resistance is surprise, so it’s important to let people know what’s coming.” Another panelist told me about how his company used playbooks, posters, and other marketing tools to encourage workers to attend training.


According to the IT lead at BNC, “To encourage adoption, we treated employees the way we treat our customers, using internal marketing, peer influencers, self-learning, and corporate social media. With no formal directive, in just nine months 80% of the company had adopted new tools and were changing how they collaborate.”


Training -- Training is one of the most important parts of a user-adoption strategy. According to an Information Week study, 42% of respondents noted that the top barrier to full UCC adoption is a lack of training.


Training includes instruction not just how to use the new tools, but also how these tools will help workers with their day-to-day jobs. Be sure to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” By understanding the value of the tools, and getting properly trained on the different features and capabilities, workers are more likely to use the tools properly and get the full benefits.


There’s no one right way to do training. Offer a variety of training options, including hands-on lunch and learns, on-demand videos, and FAQs.


What You’ll Learn
During the session you’ll get practical guidance from the panelists based on their experiences. These topics are among our discussion points:


  • How to develop an end-user adoption strategy and plan
  • The role of the vendor, service provider, or reseller in a user-adoption strategy
  • Examples of internal marketing approaches
  • Overcoming end-user resistance
  • Which training/rollout methods are the most successful
  • Who to involve in the user-adoption strategy and plan
  • How to find the evangelists and adoption champions
  • How to measure success
  • Roadblocks to driving user adoption
  • The role of change management
I hope to see you at this Enterprise Connect session, taking place on Wednesday, March 20, at 2:00 p.m., for practical guidance and best practices on getting end-user adoption. (And if you haven’t registered for Enterprise Connect yet, be sure to use the code NJPOSTS when you do to receive a $200 discount.)


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