Driving “Active Usage” of Office 365

For almost a decade I have been working in the user adoption area, with numerous blog posts, conference talks and keynotes, client-internal and public workshops, consulting projects, and multiple books the result. On my Twelve Bullets Points page, you can see my work to date in this area, under Apply Intentional Energy to the Process of User Adoption.

In light of the above, I find it very interesting to observe from afar the increased focus that many vendors, Microsoft included, are putting on user adoption. This paragraph in one of the press releases coming out of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference a few weeks ago speaks volumes:

… we are announcing the availability of a new dashboard that will enable Partners to directly view usage reports for their customers, right from within the Partner’s MPN Online Services Dashboard they use today. The new usage dashboard will help Partners identify opportunities for helping their customers realize the full value of Office 365 by taking full advantage of all of the services delivered within the suite. This investment also aligns with changes in our competency and incentive models to drive active usage.

In my discussions with various Microsoft business partners, they too are talking increasingly about “consumption” (meaning the use of a tool, not the disease), “active usage,” and “driving adoption.”

Interesting times indeed.

I’ve been thinking about this term “active usage.” It’s a good phrase – much better than “adoption” (especially since many vendors have muddied the waters by using adoption to refer to acquisition) – but it’s not a great phrase. I think it needs a qualifier, and so in my workshops and consulting for a while now I have been talking more about effective use or “Authentic Active Use.” And it’s getting users to that place of effective use or authentic use that is (a) the real challenge, and (b) much more aligned to what the customer needs as opposed to driving financial payments to the partner on presenting evidence of “active use.” With most Microsoft business partners coming from a place of having technical salespeople selling technical things to technical client people, there’s quite a transformation needed in order to emphasise the “authentic” part of the direct end, as well as the means of getting to that place.

One thought on “Driving “Active Usage” of Office 365

  1. Hi Michael, interesting post—thanks for keeping the challenge to the front of people’s minds.

    “Active usage” strikes me as an attempt to rename an answer for which the problem is not clear. It’s as if protagonists want to “push” the capability into service (a la Google Glass, a “solution” for which no demanding problem was obvious). Successful change programmes tend to be characterised by a strong “pull” from the receiver/beneficiary (remembering that people only solve big problems). Deployment of O365 and so-called collaboration tools are likely to remain problematic until compelling answers apparent to and accepted by business leaders.

    Two questions arising from it remain, in my mind at least, the “how?” and “why?” questions:
    * How might the proposal [to deploy collaborative tools] advance (or contribute to) business strategy?
    * Why should such systems be deployed?

    From your research, are answers to these questions starting to emerge?

    -prc.

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