Why End User Adoption is a Two-Way Street

Former Employee

There isn’t a question that end-user adoption is top of mind for IT professionals. From training teams individually to better understanding business requirements, end-user adoption starts with just that—end-users. Across various end-user adoption tactics, there is a general trend towards moving IT closer to the business. But shouldn’t the business also be simultaneously moving closer to IT?

A recent Forrester survey found that less than 20% of business users believe IT is aligned with their needs, with 79% of IT pros indicating that IT/business alignment is a top priority. Below we share a few opportunities for better understanding between the business and IT:


  1. End-users need to realize that IT is more than just support and IT should function with end-users in mind

IT has generally functioned as the gatekeeper and interacted with the business in a “help desk” role. As IT moves away from strictly gatekeeping, there is a new opportunity to embrace a more strategic role. New productivity applications mean that there are new opportunities for technology to solve gaps in business communication and processes. Addressing these new technologies in a light that solves day-to-day challenges faced by end-users strengthens the case for adopting new technology. How could HR better apply a given application? Finance? What would be a specific use case that would help encourage your end users to adopt SharePoint?


  1. Bridge the gap between silos and introduce BRMs

In Microsoft’s 2016 research aimed at understanding how companies were transitioning to the cloud (from a technology and people standpoint), we discovered a trend—the introduction of the business relationship manager. Functioning in a less technical role, BRMs are more embedded in the business and serve more cross-cutting roles to understand the needs of different service teams. BRMs help identify business capabilities, requirements and other gaps and report back to IT. How often do you talk to end users about their needs and their biggest challenges? If there isn’t an existing channel—could you drive one?


  1. CIOs need a voice at the table

The transition to the cloud allows for CIOs to take on a role beyond building infrastructure. CIOs in the cloud world should be influencing strategy. With entire industries flipped upside down by technology, companies are taking a more careful look at their technological capabilities. Taking on a strategic role—specifically if at the C-Suite level—means that IT has the opportunity to add value, not just reduce cost. Where does your CIO sit? While this isn’t an overnight change—or likely one you have direct control over—it highlights an important concept, which is to see your department as a strategic value-add rather than solely infrastructure.

2 Replies

When people talk about CIOs driving strategic direction, it does have to be with a view to enabling others.


We talk about using technology to enable collaboration, but the CIO rarely wants to "own" the enabling infrastructure AND the responsibility of changing culture.


However if the owners of those responsibilities (whoever they are) don't work closely together, all too often the discussion becomes one of blame: "the technology is deployed, we've trained everyone, yet people just aren't using it to its full potential".


Organisations have very good people running operations, finance, HR at the C-suite level. "Subject-matter experts", if you will! The CIO role is about coaching them to their full potential. And if it's the start of that journey, that could be as simple as removing their existing roadblocks.


I agree entirely that there is a disconnect appearing between the senior management and the workforce.  From an adoption perspective, the ‘bulk’ of users are at the lower end of the organisation and decisions focus around adoption of new global technologies are around the top of the organisation.


Unfortunate the CIO is no different to the other C-level leaders and more focused on budget and strategy than delivery.  Do not get me wrong they track production and delivery but rarely do I see a executive being aware of the ‘comfort levels’ of their workforce.  This is the same of the CIO in the IT organisation.  I should say there are exceptions but most companies limit tracking IT effectiveness a bi-annual survey.


For large scale adoption, I believe it should be a bottom up approach to get the ‘feel’ of the business for the change so this can be included in the Office 365 (or other change project) decision making by the C-levels who should have all the information reported back to them including how difficult, or easy, an adoption might be.


I think this supports the current decisions making model within the business of reporting upwards on product and deliver then the same model can be followed for large scale It deployments.  Collect the data and report it to the C-levels so that the right adoption of technology change can be made.


Steve Dalby