Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 7 – Inadequate efforts to drive adoption

The buzzword is  “consumption”. Deployment does not mean effective usage. The efforts which are taken in this direction are inadequate as well as misdirected. This guarantees underutilization and poor ROI. Read on to find out what goes wrong and how to correct it.


The problem: Our objective itself is not well defined

As a part of Office 365, many new products are available to users. The approach towards “adoption” is to create awareness, few training programs, few eLearning videos and then leave the users alone.

This does NOT mean “driving adoption or consumption”. It is called “wishful thinking”!

Users have neither any interest nor spare time to waste on new technology. They are busy doing their day-to-day work and politics. Of course, they want to grow in their role and career. But seemingly, technology does not have a role to play in growing faster.

What really is adoption?

When you plan to introduce a new product, you must map the new features to existing work requirements. Find out which type of work is improved or which type of new and useful stuff can be done using this product.

Once this is done, we have to estimate and identify the people who can benefit from these enhancements. Usually, for generic products like Office, EVERYONE is the potential beneficiary.

Now we can begin to understand what adoption means. If a user needs to do a specific activity, they must use the most appropriate feature set of the most appropriate tool available to them. And this should happen for ALL users.

In that sense, adoption is NOT optional. It has to be universal.

This is where most adoption initiatives fall short.

There is some initial push – followed by …. nothing!

Requires significant effort – much more than you think

Awareness drives, demos and training programs for the new product are OPTIONAL. That is a wrong idea. Something which is guaranteed to be beneficial can NOT be optional. It has to be mandatory. Not in a dictatorial sense but in the enablement sense.

Users who think that they don’t need the new product are making a mistake. They have no clue what they are refusing to learn. Many of them blindly decide that I don’t need that new thing. In fact, they may genuinely be in the need for the new technology. But they have DECIDED not to look at it. Therefore, they are not going to benefit from it.

From a financial perspective, you are paying for the usage of that product for that person. And that person is not even aware of what it is. This guarantees poor ROI. It is a waste of money on a massive scale.

Therefore, once you have decided to provide a set of products, you must also provide for budget and resources to ensure that every feature is used by everyone in the appropriate manner.

If you don’t have such a plan, buying and deploying any technology is like burning the money you have. It will NEVER give you real return on investment.

In fact, this thought process has never been used to the fullest extent in the entire careers of most IT professionals. It is not something which I have coined for Office 365. This approach is applicable to any technology in any era.

But because nobody has experienced this approach, we don’t know about its potential and impact. Due to this, everyone’s growth is getting hampered.

What is the right way

  1. Make a list of all users who SHOULD benefit from the new technology.
    Usually it will mean EVERYONE.
  2. Find out the business scenarios or workloads which will improve or be possible DUE TO the new technology
  3. Create a map of users and scenarios
  4. Promote each scenario using all channels available internally
  5. Involve top management in the awareness creation
  6. After initial period of visibility creation, let top management start DEMANDING the new methodology
  7. Encourage users to share their achievements and incentivize them
  8. Every feature deserves attention – understand and use “Feature Marketing” concepts
  9. Have adequate budget and manpower to execute this
  10. It is best done internally. Outsourcing it to another agency is a short-term solution
  11. DO NOT force the new behavior. Demonstrate its benefits, explain the relevant scenario and leave the actual usage to the discretion of the user.
  12. Promote related features together – this reduces the marketing effort and promotes utilization of integration points across products.

Your suggestions and experiences are are welcome.


One thought on “Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 7 – Inadequate efforts to drive adoption”

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?