Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Stop making your users feel stupid!

A common complaint I hear from IT Professionals today is that technology is moving too fast and they can’t keep up. Yup, agreed. However, did you ever take a step back and think about what it’s like for your users? The people who actually need to use this stuff to actually get their jobs done? People who only want to use technology as a tool, not something to ‘play’ with?

I see so many instances of IT Professionals bearing the brunt of end user frustrations when it comes to migration to Office 365. You wanna know why that is most of the time? Simple. Almost zero effort and resources have been invested in end user adoption. IT Professionals focus on what they know and love, the technical back end and system bits, and then leave users to fend for themselves when it comes to actually using the technology. “They’ll work it out” is the catch cry of the IT Professional who thinks their job is done just getting the technology running.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the back end technical stuff is important but just as important is user adoption and the most important aspect of this is first impressions. If an end user has a bad first impression with a technology a the outset (i.e. they don’t know what it is for or how to use it) then their chances of adopting it are minimal. So what techniques do YOU have in place to ensure this doesn’t happen if you are an IT professional?

This means that a much great focus needs to be placed on the end user’s journey with the technology. From start to finish. How are they going to use it? How can they use it to help them get their work done? How can working with the technology be made easier? What resources do they need to help them understand and adopt the technology? IT Professionals simply can’t install the software then leave an user to adopt it. Without assistance and guidance they never will. To think otherwise is delusional. To do so is irresponsible and unprofessional to say the least.

You need to create a broad supportive environment to help all sorts of people learn any new technology. Different people learn in different ways and at different speeds. This means having different resources and programs for your users. From videos, to case studies (hello Teams Site portal). From tutorials to question and answer sessions (hello Skype for Business lunch and learns). You need to make it easy for users to get over that initial hurdle when it comes to adoption.

Nobody wants to feel stupid and few people really have the discipline or motivation to ‘nut’ out something technically for themselves. Fewer still have a good appreciation of how something can help them do their job better. They just want to do their job. Period. They don’t want to ‘play’ with technology. People learn best from the experiences of others and that is why shared experience and feedback are so important to the adoption process (hello Yammer or Teams!).

The amount of times I walk into a business that has Office 365 but has no idea about anything other than email is amazing! Most have no concept of basic productivity enhancements in Office 365 that provide ‘quick wins’ like OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Skype for Business and so on. Too many IT Professionals want to inflict the hardest adoption hurdles on end users out of the gate. Why? Take the low hanging fruit first. Drive adoption with quick and easy wins. As I have said many, many times here, just dumping file server data into a single document library in SharePoint is a recipe for disaster. Why? Too much change too quickly for most users. In such cases, zero consideration was given to the end users use of SharePoint. They were simply thrown to the lions and expected to ‘learn’ for themselves. That process is only going to instil frustration and resistance as well as overt hostility. In short, it just makes everything worse. So why do it?

Technology is a massive enabler in business today, but it is also a massive distraction. The technology is the same, the difference between success and failure is how that technology is used. Usage is dictated by adoption and adoption is something that doesn’t appear magically. Adoption is the end result of a process, not random circumstance. Adoption is a focus, not a result!

Successful IT resellers are focused on ensuring the success of the end user’s journey. They treat adoption and enablement with equal importance to technical deployment. They provide the resources to help their end users embrace the technology and becomes fans of it. That’s the key way to measure the successful adoption of technology inside a business. Do people simply use it or do they love it? If you ever find users who don’t love, yes I said love, the technology they are working with, then that is a sign of a failed adoption process. Such failures are the sole responsibility of the IT professionals who rolled it out, not the end users.

Take heed, IT Professionals. In a world where anyone can buy and sell cloud services like Office 365, the key differentiation point is how you go about helping your users move from mere adoption to adoration of the technology. If you view technology as mere technical problems to solve you are failing your customer and you are not doing your job. Your job is to help those with less knowledge and experience understand how the tools you are providing help them do a better job, and how it improves the way they work.

Anyone can sell technology today, but in my experience very few can actually successfully implement it. Why? Because they fail to appreciate that success is judged in the eye of end user not those who roll it out. Adoption is key to success today, so pay attention to it because without it you’ll NEVER succeed!