Why your new collaboration technology isn’t catching on as you expected

When organizations want to update their collaboration technologies, IT departments spend weeks, sometimes months, focusing on the right products that will help their company meet their goals. They rigorously check requirements, ensure all the right specs are in place, and carefully configure the new technology before making it available to end users. Everything goes as planned. Yet three months in, management is wondering why no one is using the new technology. Sound familiar?

Most new collaboration investments fail to reach their full potential not because of the technology itself but rather because of how it’s introduced to its end users. People often don’t like change, even if it’s for their own benefit. So, when a new technology is introduced, people tend to stick with what they know and what they are comfortable with. They also might not want to learn new things and can be hard to convince. Or they might not feel compelled to use the new technology if they don’t see their colleagues using it as well.

All these reactions are normal. But the good news is, there are several things you can do to help your teams in the process:

  • First, make sure to involve executives early in using the new technology. Set up some time with them to have them interact with the technology. And lastly, walk them through some best practices so they feel more comfortable using and promoting it.
  • Second, focus on raising awareness throughout the organization via marketing and communication. Good ideas include:
    • Posters in hallways (clearly visible to support organizational change)
    • Internal forums to help answer questions
    • How-to videos that help users get acquainted or that helps solve basic issues
    • Quick reference guides and recorded trainings that help answer “What’s in it for me?
    • Language specific material so people can learn best in their native language
  • Finally, set up some hands-on training options before the rollout and some support desks afterwards to ensure users that they can have any questions they have answered.
Infographics and engaging posters that match your company’s colors and brand guidelines, such as the images above, are two good ways raise awareness throughout your organization.

Learning to how facilitate a change management approach for your organization is no easy task. However, it is a crucial element to establishing buy-in and usage for your new collaboration technology. The question is, are you willing to champion these kinds of actions for your organization?

Help is here if you need it

If you’re unsure about committing yourself to the extra work, there are other ways you can ensure your organization adapts properly to a new technology change. Cisco offers many different options that could potentially aid you in finding the perfect fit – from basic insights to expert advice and assistance.

One of the most common, initial customer introductions is from Cisco’s Customer Success (CS) team. Here, Customer Success managers help guide you to understand your technology further, based on agreed upon capabilities, licenses, features, services, and bundles. They also help monitor your adoption progress and better measure the impact to your organization.

Another available option is Cisco’s User Solution Empowerment (USE) Adoption services. USE is another, yet less familiar, alternative that can help your employees adopt collaboration technologies with greater speed and effectiveness through a change management approach. With access to customized processes, materials, and techniques from Prosci Certified Change Management Professionals, you can directly influence and improve:

  • User behavior
  • Product and technology use
  • Organizational adoption
  • Business processes and workflows
Simply introducing a collaboration technology to someone and getting their feedback on how you can help raise awareness is a great way to lower anxiety among those who are unsure about a new technology change.

One of the main differences between CS and USE is that CS is usually complimentary to new customers whereas USE is an add-on service that requires an additional investment. To help articulate the difference easier, let’s look at a quick example of a USE engagement.

A major retail banking customer was experiencing lower-than-expected usage in its Webex Meetings solution. Consequently, it invested in USE Adoption services to better train, educate, and encourage end users to collaborate easily through the technology.

The USE team ended up creating a global training strategy that included:

  • A detailed marketing & communications plan to create awareness through:
    • Executive sponsorship and communication
    • Digital signage on the company website
    • Company-branded posters throughout hallways and elevators
  • 25 instructor-led sessions tailored specifically at helping event managers, help desk trainers, and administrative professionals best use Webex Meetings
  • Multiple training recordings for all users, so users can access learning material at any time
  • Custom educational reference guides created in four languages (English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French), so users could maximize their learning by understanding best practices in their native language

Through this material, the company was able to reach thousands of employees over seven months. By providing the necessary resources to help them use the technology more, over 1800 users were trained during that span. Additionally, the company saw a 12-times increase in the number of registered Webex Meetings and active hosts conducting meetings.

What to do next?

As shown above, one of the most fundamental elements of successful adoption is a good change management approach. A proper one includes influential factors such as executive sponsorship, live training, user segmentation, and awareness throughout the organization. Each has its own specific purpose in influencing change, whether it be awareness, social proof, or even physical usage.

Think of ways you can approach executives to get their buy-in. Coffee breaks, for instance, might be an effective method for those who are busy and constantly on-the-go.

If you’re considering improving your adoption rate on your own, consider how you can broaden your approach beyond simple recordings and PDFs. Who has access to influence upper management? Who’s a good teacher and can volunteer to lead hour-long classes? Who can start a forum on the topic to answer questions and spark conversations? Who’s good at marketing?  Think through creative ways you can get your teams involved because without them, users can feel “left on their own” and even frustrated with the new technology. Or they might not understand how important it is to use.

If you’re considering outside help, it might be advantageous to better familiarize yourself with Cisco’s USE Adoption services:

  • For web conferencing and other video needs (including Webex and TelePresence), click here
  • For Unified Communications (including Jabber and Webex Teams), click here
  • For Contact Center, click here

Visit Cisco Collaboration Services to learn more.


Jeff Price

Product Manager