SharePoint 2013 and User Adoption

Elaine from OBS in Australia shares her top 13 list of features in SharePoint 2013. The 13 include adding content easily, sharing content easily, access anywhere, My Task List, leveraging experts, and more. I don’t have a problem with the list, and am pleased to see that (at least on the face of it), SharePoint 2013 finally addresses some of the weaknesses I highlighted in SharePoint 2007 (see 7 Pillars analysis of SharePoint 2007).

The line I react to in the article – and a line that Elaine herself probably didn’t write – is this one: “… heading the list with the platform’s increased focus on encouraging user adoption.” My research and consulting over the past few years says that the platform can’t encourage user adoption; improvements in features may reduce barriers to usability, but the encouragement of user adoption per se is up to people in the organization who are introducing SharePoint. SharePoint – or any tool – can have the most wonderful, intuitive, simple to use features, but user adoption will not be encouraged by implication of that IF some other things don’t line up.

For example, if the IT department made the decision to impose SharePoint on the organization, has done nothing around engaging with business users, have done nothing around exploring where the tools in the platform make a difference to the work people do … adoption will be difficult. We saw this problem with SharePoint 2003, and 2007, and 2010 – all versions of SharePoint that Microsoft said were wonderful at the time. And yet the organizational context was the problem that made user adoption less than stellar.

So … for anyone who thinks that the new features in SharePoint 2013 will encourage user adoption … please sit down, buy a copy of my collaboration strategy book, and also a copy of user adoption book. Read them, and then let’s talk.

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