Over the past few years, IT has transitioned from a department focused on infrastructure and support to one of innovation, transformation, and competitive advantage. Traditional roles, resources, and expectations have been disrupted by shifting user demands and needs. To keep up and ahead of these demands, the IT department now has an important seat at the executive table. The role of IT is to not only provide technical support but to also provide fresh solutions and tools that will keep their organization ahead of the wave of innovation.
Cloud Computing Brings Change and Innovation
The focus in IT has been sky-high. Organizations and users fully understand and prefer the flexibility and collaboration of cloud technology. Now, IT is expected to lead the charge into the cloud by providing innovation, efficiency, collaboration, and—most importantly—business value. But many IT departments have high expectations to provide increased, faster, and better results with fewer resources and less time. Without the right technology and budgets, supporting, training, and managing SaaS technology becomes a daunting task.
At the same time of all this change and disruption, Office 365 has emerged and is aimed squarely at supplying the tools to make these capabilities accessible and less daunting for IT departments. By 2019, Microsoft expects two-thirds of their traditional Office customers to migrate to Office 365 subscription plans. This demonstrates a new normal for IT and the end-user community.
So as IT faces this new normal, how can you be successful in this new role? It requires two requisites.
Let’s dive in.
Business and IT Alignment
Leading business transformation with these new tools requires vision and focus. Without a laser-focused vision and a means to measure your intended success, most implementations are based on assumptions, and IT professionals are guessing their way through the process.
Instead of playing a guessing game, IT can take a step up to align technology with the needs of the business. IT can no longer work in a silo — they need to be invited to the table to define, release, and support solutions that will improve the business.
To successfully align IT with business, start by:
- Meet with all stakeholders to understand their specific requirements—in detail—and clearly communicate why the services will benefit them and how business value will be achieved.
- Implement solutions like Office 365 that meet all requirements.
- Align stakeholders when planning and deploying collaboration solutions.
Just because an organization deploys Office 365, doesn’t mean they’ll reap the benefits of digital transformation. ‘Build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t work with this type of solution. The difficulty is that success is 100% based on people and their abilities and willingness to change how they operate. Users can send emails and use online file shares, but social content, publishing, project management, document management, business automation, business intelligence, etc., need support from skilled personnel.
The path to success begins at user awareness, which leads to user engagement, and ends with user adoption. Here are a few ways to become successful in your user adoption strategies:
It’s important to communicate to end users the benefits that the Office 365 platform provides. Initial and ongoing communication across your end user community enlightens them on what is possible, prevents misunderstandings, and provides a sense of belonging to the organization. When internal groups are aware that tools and technologies are available to them, they are more likely to use and build upon them.
Aware employees become engaged employees. Employee engagement goes beyond knowing tools, capabilities, and information exist and leads to genuine and sustained interest in how they can do their jobs better for the overall success of the organization. This occurs only when your tools are delivered deliberately and with purpose, training, support, and ongoing enhancements to suit user needs. Ongoing communication of the vision and value these tools bring to the organization fosters engagement and leads to adoption.
Successful adoption is the holy grail in the land of collaboration and digital transformation. Adoption occurs when the user community employs the tools, services, and solutions provided for them because they want to take advantage of the value they continue to experience. Additionally, engaged employees who have adopted the use of the tools in their everyday work will encourage their colleagues and new hires to do the same, promoting the use of the capabilities across their own teams and departments. True adoption leads to employee efficiency and fewer user complaints and increases the organization’s confidence in IT to deliver solutions that meet business needs.
How a Center of Excellence Drives User Adoption and Value
In today’s changing IT landscape, it’s imperative to incorporate proven change acceptance techniques. With the above requisites along with a proven, deliberate framework, organizations can begin to truly realize the value of their Office 365 investment.
An alternative approach to achieving this success is the Office 365 Center of Excellence (CoE). What is the Center of Excellence? It is a proven process methodology that utilizes six services areas to improve and execute on digital transformation in Office 365 and SharePoint. It can greatly improve innovation, deliver business value, protect your internal and external data, decrease reliance on email, and empower your employees.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence framework by downloading our free whitepaper here.