Three Requirements for Broad Adoption of Collaboration Tools

In a blog post last July, Joe Schueller from Cisco wrote about the role of culture in Enterprise 2.0, but more importantly about three keys to gaining broad adoption of collaboration tools in the organization:

However, to drive real value out of a collaboration platform, you need broad adoption, and frankly, leaving > 80% of the population “on the table” isn’t going to cut it.

Culture can only get you so far in driving adoption.

For the segment of employees not actively thirsting for new collaboration tools and cultural transformation, you need to think differently. For this group, you need to view cultural transformation as an OUTPUT of adoption, not an INPUT. To get the most out of any networked collaboration platform, you need broad, pervasive adoption. Driving this across the entire spectrum of the employee population requires more than just promising a new way to work.

Adoption of new collaboration platforms is likely to be driven by:

Simplicity – I certainly hope we’re all finally beyond the era of sending people off to a 2 day training course with a 2″ binder full of reference material when we launch a new software tool.

Consolidation – I’ve yet to hear anyone say they don’t have enough collaboration tools. Any way you can drive replacement/substitution of existing tools will be appreciated. If you introduce a new tool as a net increase in the number of things a person must check/update during their day, you’re going to face a massive adoption hurdle.

Integration – The more business data and business process functionality you can drive in to your collaboration platform, the more likely you’ll be able to quickly drive broad adoption.” (bold emphasis in the original)

My Comments
1. Starting with Joe’s second driver, I fully agree. Getting rid of outmoded ways of working and interacting – cutting down on the number of places to do work – is important. As I talk about in User Adoption Strategies, the new place has to become the “new now” way of working.

2. On Joe’s third driver, I agree. You need the new place to become the place where real work is done – not just an outlier that can be used if the person feels like it.

3. On the first driver, I agree in principle with simplicity, but would perhaps phrase it differently. That is, that it’s simple to get started, but there is depth and real capability ready to be used as people progress. Once you’ve “gotten over” the initial bump for embracing the new tool, you want it to be more than a shimmer. If the system is “simple” (that is, basic), you will be able to get people using it, but when they run up against barriers and limitations in the system, they will exit. And in a disagreement of Joe’s point, it may actually be necessary to have a 2″ binder of reference material – but not when the person is first starting.

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