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Collaboration Adoption is the “R” in ROI

October 23, 2012
at 8:50 am PST

I have often found it a little surprising that while we and customers expend considerable effort planning, building, and managing collaboration solutions, the process of their adoption by end-users can get lost in the proverbial shuffle. Adoption is a really important issue, because adoption is a controlling variable in the collaboration infrastructure investment equation. In other words, a collaboration infrastructure that operates at 80 percent of capacity is going to deliver four times the returns of one that runs at 20 percent of capacity.

The problem of suboptimal adoption goes deeper than the sinking feeling of paying to build and operate infrastructure that sits idle. It gets more serious when one considers that under-adoption means forgoing the positive benefits of collaboration. It’s not so much the money blown on unused equipment and services, but the opportunities missed to cut travel expenses, speed projects, exchange ideas, build tight relationships irrespective of team member geographic location, and generally take advantage of the manifest benefits of collaboration.

But the high cost of low adoption really kicks when under-adoption stops collaboration-enabled strategic initiatives in their tracks. Consider the waste of a billion-dollar product development project that bellyflops in the marketplace because it arrived six months later than a competitive offering. There can be multiple causes for time-to-market delays, but it wouldn’t make anyone feel better to know that development, manufacturing, service, marketing and sales teams had modern collaboration tools available to them but failed to understand their purpose, how to use them, or had them hidden in plain sight from would be users.

One of the biggest causes of the adoption gap is that even well meaning organizations treat adoption as an afterthought in the collaboration investment lifecycle. “If we build it, they will come,” right? For successful adoption to occur, it needs to be a top concern at all phases of the collaboration plan-build-manage lifecycle. In my next blog post, I will sketch out four ways that Cisco is working to lower barriers to collaboration investment; bring collaboration to end users any time any where; monitor measure and manage adoption; and evangelize organizational change management processes that radically increase adoption of collaboration resources.

Hans

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