Adoption & Effective Use

Adoption Strategies for Unified Communications

During 2014 I expanded the scope of my adoption research to the unified communications (UC) area. This included reading the literature on adoption activities for deployments of UC, interviewing organizations on the strategies they used to introduce new tools such as Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime, and presenting the adoption strategies workshop in Europe with a UC emphasis.

There were two major takeaways from this research. First, that the term “adoption” is generally used to refer to the purchase or acquisition decision for UC, not the use of strategies to drive the effective use of UC tools. Second, that many of the strategies in my book translate very easily from collaboration tools to UC.

Here are some examples of how the different strategies from my book have worked for organizations in a UC context:

Exemplar Stories (from stage 1). An engineering firm expanded from Europe into the United States, and was able to use desktop video meetings to keep managers aligned and in touch with each other. These replaced the previous reliance on trans-Atlantic flights for in-person meetings.

Organizational Chaos (from stage 1). Another engineering firm was getting ready to roll out Microsoft Lync when an earthquake destroyed one of their offices and the phone system. With Lync being the only feasible way to rapidly reconnect everyone, staff were very quick to embrace the capabilities.

Organizational Chaos (from stage 1). A firm was shifting to a new building, and the current phone system was almost impossible to move from the basement. The introduction of new UC tools was linked with the new building, and the old phone system left where it was.

Web-Based Training (from stage 2). A couple of firms—one in healthcare and a second in construction—offer weekly real-time discussions through their UC platform of choice. Anyone can join and ask a question on how to do a particular task in IBM Sametime, for example. The trainer or coach will then walk them through the steps involved. The question gets answered, and a capability for doing more is encouraged.

Build It And They Will Come (from stage 3). An ICT company was introducing Microsoft Lync, to staff who already knew about presence, instant messaging, and online meetings. The project leader said that adoption “was almost immediate,” which should perhaps not be surprising given the nature of the company and its average employee.

Zero Other Options (from stage 4). Current communication tools are turned off and made inaccessible to users, so that the new UC tools are the only choice. Desktop phones are removed. Subscriptions to other audio and web conferencing services are cancelled.

Stop Doing, Start Doing Patterns (from stage 4). After his group understands the capabilities of Microsoft Lync and how to use them effectively, a manager states that he will no longer accept phone calls from his team (the stop doing pattern). He asks that all future requests for real-time interaction should be via Microsoft Lync (the start doing pattern).

Each of these strategies–as well as the other ones in the book I have not profiled here–can be used to inform your approach with adoption for UC tools. However, the context of how UC is introduced has a significant impact. Ensuring that you have understood how UC will contribute value and what it will take to deliver that value is an essential starting point for any UC journey.

Your Adoption Strategies for UC?
Have you been involved in developing or running an adoption program for unified communications at your organization? What strategies did you use, and how effective did you find them to be?

4 replies »

  1. Michael, thanks for sharing your research. I have seen the following use cases for UC in my experience:
    1) collaborating with geographically distributed teams
    2) Web-based training
    3) Executive sponsorship

    Regards,

    Sabeeh

      • Michael, I meant that senior managers can help quite a bit in terms of User Adoption. I was confirming what you have said,
        “Stop Doing, Start Doing Patterns (from stage 4). After his group understands the capabilities of Microsoft Lync and how to use them effectively, a manager states that he will no longer accept phone calls from his team (the stop doing pattern). He asks that all future requests for real-time interaction should be via Microsoft Lync (the start doing pattern). “