Like it or not, as implementer’s we are judged on the impact our deployed systems make and helping teams understanding the actual and perceived business impact is often a key part of most implementations. There will be a day when the digital workplace is just another office tool to getting work done (like the telephone and email are today) but until that day (when the technology selection will also be less of an issue too) adoption metrics matter.
However for something so important it is something that in my experience many companies will rarely talk about, why – because often managers know if the actual extent of the impact on the business was revealed executives would start asking questions, for most Fortune 500 companies, their large, multi-data centre, fully supported and heavily customised collaboration platform implementations will nearly always have usage adoption figures that rarely creep into double digits. Shocking right?
Adoption is a word that I feel often gets misused when describing the success of digital initiatives, mainly because often it is more convenient to not focus on the difference between forced or artificial spiked term usage and that of genuine, user initiated repeat use of a platform. Likewise there is often a tendency to report only on visit metrics, i.e how many people and from which countries/company departments etc, when really this only tells part of the story and doesn’t seek to understand what people did on the platform, for how long they stayed and the quality of the activity or benefit they gained from their visit, or the overall growth of the platform.
So what is the number one reason affecting take-up?
You’ll often hear people say “it’s not about the technology, it’s about adoption and culture change” but this isn’t really true. As a user, if the technology I’m presented with is clunky, badly designed or not immediately useful or comprehensible, then guess what – I’m going right back to something that I know works – like email, or I’ll step outside of my company’s firewall and use something that does (as many organisations have found to their horror with the unofficial use of cloud file sharing services).
In my option, the key to success is all about whether that the technology implemented is integrated into daily life, or is it ‘Action-Oriented’.
1) that people just don’t share and when they do, it is as often as an afterthought
2) that sharing anything is only effective if it’s shared with the right people
3) often that the sharer has no idea where or who needs to see what they’ve shared
By contrast an Action-Oriented technology platform will be integrated into the places where people do real work (i.e. Word, PowerPoint, E-mail and Line of Business Systems) and as you do work, it is systematically shared with the right people in the right way.
So with information automatically pushed to the right users as actual work is done, an employee’s teammates are informed when you create or change work products that impact their responsibilities.
Likewise adjacent teams can follow you and/or your team to maintain peripheral awareness of your team’s work through systematic sharing of work products relevant to that team.
While relevant strangers can follow topics of interest to discover you, your activity and your work products as they take shape, and managers can observe progress, monitor collaborative activity patterns, determine whether collaboration within and across teams is occurring as expected.
Building upon this concept, we now consider Action-Oriented to be both ways – it’s about bringing collaboration, knowledge and social interactions to the point of need. As an example, thinking about the popular productivity suites, if I’m reviewing a document that looks like a requirements document, it would be helpful to see links to other relevant (best examples) and related documents right there in Word. If I’m in PowerPoint and looking for a presentation then let me search the organisation’s knowledge banks and collaboration spaces and open up that document, all without leaving PowerPoint.
There are of course, a number of other reasons that affect take-up and I’ve listed some of the most common below:
- The quality and ease of the experience (the use of) “does this make my life easier”
- Appropriateness and usefulness of the features offered relevant to actual need
- Functionality that doesn’t work in the way users expect it to (remember no-one took a training course into how to use LinkedIn)
- No integration with existing business processes, i.e to do my job I don’t have to use it
- Deploying a series of unconnected pieces of software that do similar tasks, but create silos of data and a weak user experience
- Whether employee’s have desires to find ‘something better’ following flaws in existing processes
- Whether a ‘permission culture’ is created and management/leadership usage is visible
- Whether others that employees work with are brought into the vision and see usage as an accelerator for the team
- Whether community managers and advocates are appointed and the quality of the associated support programme
- Whether a reward program is introduced that is tied to both the fun, financial and reputational (no executive wants their group to be the “least collaborative” likewise incentives for working in the new way should be linked to employee’s annual objectives)
- Intranet update programmes that start to introduce elements found in a digital workplace, rather than bringing intranet content to the digital workplace
- If the platform name is considered tired and the program marked as another ‘corporate push’ without employee particpation in its design – the power of viral adoption is key
What do you think? Would be interested to know what others think, what other reasons can help ensure or affect take-up?