One of the biggest challenges that face IT departments is how to drive successful adoption of new and updated technology services with your consumers. It is a natural instinct of the human race to resist change. We are creatures of habit and when something or someone alters the status quo we often find it hard to adapt. What this means is we actively look for ways in which we can carry on in the same manner as we have in the past and if we can’t then often we try our best to avoid adopting the new way of doing things.
What this means in the IT world is that consumers often have a disconnect between he capabilities of the technology they have access to and their ability to understand how it can benefit their productivity and actually improve their working practices. As a result IT departments are often the cause of much office frustration, the bearer of bad news, the problem to all things electrical and the department of blame for everything to name but a few consumer comments I am used to hearing while quietly meandering customer offices.
It is a natural reaction to us techies to feel the burning rage inside, the almost mothering instinct to defend your technology and ideas to the death and take an almost Stalin’ish stance towards your consumers views. “You will use it and like it!”, “It’s here now, get used to it!”, “You read the email I sent out a month ago warning about this!”, “Well, you had your chance to say something!” are just a few thoughts that used to go through my head. Any self respecting techie would be right in thinking like this, because after all you have put in many hours of planning, testing, planning, testing, planning, more testing, more planning and finally deploying this shiny new application or service that you are proud of. All this negative response is felt like a slap in the face. But you shouldn’t take it personally.
Think of it as a non IT user, or more accurately, what would your mother say if you upgraded her laptop from Windows XP that she has been using for the last 8 years to Windows 8 while she slept? Apart from the immediate phone call you would get the following morning asking what have you done, you would spend the next 6 months showing her the simplest of things like where her applications are, where her files are, explaining what the difference is between an application and an app etc. The end result is you both will become tired, stressed and eventually all things would go quiet. Your mother would suffer in silence being alienated from what she once knew. She finds what where once simple tasks difficult to the point she feels it can no longer be done. Eventually she will give up and unbeknown to you go out and buy an iMac! The worst bit is the fact that you think all is fine and she is on board. How would you feel?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If only you talked to her before you upgraded her machine properly, making her aware of the changes it would bring. If only you demonstrated to her the look and feel of the upgrade. If only you gave her time to understand. If only you spent some time with her training her before and after upgrading. If only you reminded her when the upgrade was going to happen. If only you spent the time putting some basic guides together for her to follow. If only… If only… If only… she would have saved the best part of £1,500, you would have saved countless hours of time and pain, and ultimately your relationship would be in tact and your Mother would now be loving Windows 8.
This same principle can be applied to your consumers. You are at an advantage as you know what is planned to happen, when, what and who it will affect. Use this power to drive adoption before you are tempted to click the next button on that new installer you have downloaded.
IT is now changing into a consumer driven model. We’ve already become familiar with BYOD, BYOC and now BYOA. It is no longer a place where geeks and techies design fancy systems and applications to fuel their geek ego. We must put our consumers at the heart of everything we do. Without their backing and support your new shiny application will not be successful, it will not get used and the mentality will not change.
This is being driven from the top too. Look at the Microsoft rebrand of Lync to Skype for Business. Techies largely dislike the name, but consumers love the GUI interface, it makes them feel more comfortable because it is similar to what they use at home. Combined with some clever marketing, and interactive resources the upgrade from Lync to Skype for Business is now eagerly looked forward to by the users who are going to be using it. This is a tectonic shift in the IT mind set. What users want this to happen?
So let’s look at ways in which we can get our consumers on board and engaged. If we can win them over, the rest is easy. The following steps will help you drive that adoption you have been missing all these years.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. The absolute number 1 on your priority list. Do not just tell the board of your plans. Communicate with the work force. Send regular informational emails.
Produce weekly newsletters containing headlines of upcoming works.
Put up posters in the office and canteen promoting your upgrade
Hold webcast and podcasts on your new application showing the productive benefits in a clear non technical manner.
Hold conferences or meetings and invite everyone
Encourage user participation, get them to test drive with you
Encourage and actively seek feedback on your demonstrations
Ask your users what they think can be improved?
Ask them how they currently use the application
There is no such thing as negative feedback
Get your users involved. Offer a beta test program open to everyone
Gather feedback regularly from your testers
Involve your users in your upgrade plan
Produce quick reference guides
Create a forum for discussion
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Floor walk your office asking users how their experience is going
Offer an open conference each day for 2 weeks where users can jump in and ask any question they like
Setup a drop in clinic in the canteen where users can come and see you for advice or ask questions freely without needing a ticket reference.
Act on your user requests and inform them DO NOT ignore their feedback
Now imagine you roll this out to your consumers and when you walk through the office people turn around and say hello to you, ask you how your weekend was and say “This Skype for Business upgrade is awesome” . How good does that make you feel? Such an awesome feeling, you have gone from public enemy number 1 to a hero. Your headache has subsided, your users are happy, you are free to concentrate on your next project and ultimately you can go to your boss for a rise! 🙂
So to get you started and to drive adoption for Skype for Business Microsoft have given you a head start and provided all the marketing material you will ever need to get that SfB project adopted and loved. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=46369
Mark is an Independent Microsoft Teams Consultant with over 15 years experience in Microsoft Technology. Mark is the founder of Commsverse, a dedicated Microsoft Teams conference and former MVP. You can follow him on twitter @UnifiedVale