Connecting with people to drive adoption


Today, the move to the cloud is broadening how IT pro roles are perceived—providing more opportunities for you to participate directly in business decision making and strategy development. Many of you are likely involved in—or even directly responsible for—increasing Office 365 adoption to speed your company’s ROI and improve productivity. And if you’re like a lot of the IT pros I’ve talked with, you’ve recognized the need to develop or deepen a new set of skills that can help you succeed.


The evolution of your role might require you to work more closely with users than you have in the past. So, your people skills—leadership, communication, relationship-building—take on increased importance in helping you:


  • Engage users and overcome their reticence to technology change.
  • Understand users’ needs, and then match those needs to Office 365 capabilities.
  • Create an implementation plan to motivate and train users.


For now, we’ll explore three ways you might engage users and overcome their reticence to technology change. In future posts, we’ll take a closer look at understanding and matching users’ needs to Office 365 capabilities and creating an implementation plan.


  1. Be sensitive to how stressful this can be for some users

Anxiety about learning something new can galvanize into fear-avoidance behaviors that can make adoption even more challenging—for you and for your users. As Mott MacDonald Business Architect @Simon Denton stated, “We’re in a time now where we can’t just expect people to use what we provide…Employees want to understand how a new product is relevant to them and their work, and how it will help them with their clients.”


For Mott MacDonald, the best approach to encourage Office 365 adoption was to use customized posters and email templates from Microsoft FastTrack, and by identifying and engaging its employees most interested in and enthusiastic about the new Office 365 capabilities as technology champions. These champions played critical role in communicating about the transition with colleagues across the organization. Putting more effort into promoting, supporting, and fostering adoption paid off for Mott MacDonald in the higher level of engagement employees demonstrated throughout the transition process.


  1. Consider exactly what users might be resisting

The user reluctance you see could be about more than the technology change itself. Research has shown that in many cases, people are just as fearful about social change—how the relationships they’ve built within and across teams will be affected—as they are about adopting new technologies. However, you know that Office 365 will enable them to develop even closer relationships with co-workers because they’ll have tools at their fingertips that enable stronger collaboration.


As Harold Groothedde, technology solutions director at Coats explains, with Office 365, “Employees can communicate with one another instantly, in any way that suits the need.” He adds that Coats has been able to “connect a workforce fragmented across many sites and time zones in a seamless way.” From email to video calls, the new collaboration channels at Coats allows employees to connect with each other directly and instantly—in a way that’s most comfortable for them.


  1. Show users how much better work is going to be

Go beyond project schedules, deployment details, and training. Most of us are working on almost twice the number of teams we were five years ago. Juggling more projects that involve more people can make it even more challenging for us to step out of our comfort zones. We become so totally focused on getting things done, that we just find what works and stick with it.


That’s why it’s important to take the time to help users understand how Office 365 can make their work lives better. And how even small changes can have a big impact on their productivity. James McGlennon, EVP and CIO at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, shared that Office 365 puts “business analytics tools in the hands of everyone, not just analysts and power users…to drive product innovation.” You might even find opportunities to reassure them about what won’t change. At Liberty Mutual, for example, day-to-day operations haven’t changed dramatically, but better collaboration across different business units has increased accessibility to more information and valuable insights—enabling employees to make better decisions.


What’s next?

The tips I’ve discussed here are just a few of the ways you can more effectively engage users to overcome their fear of technology change. Check out Microsoft FastTrack for resources, tools, and expert guidance to help you successfully drive adoption. And learn how other companies have successfully increased adoption by taking a look at our case study series about approaching adoption as a marketing campaign and outsourcing adoption. Also, be sure to download the introduction of the Office 365 Adoption Guide for end-to-end planning and implementation guidance. 


2 Replies

Thank you for highlighting our approach. They key for us is to keep the Champions engaged beyond the initial 'lights on' launch.


I agree @Simon Denton. Adoption and end user support activities have to be ongoing. Champions need to be kept engaged otherwise the momentum will ultimately fizzle out for sure.