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3 techniques for successful cloud collaboration

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What’s your business’s motivation for implementing cloud collaboration solutions? The ones we hear most frequently are increased productivity, accelerated decision-making and improved sales. But here’s the surprise: According to the 2016 Connected Enterprise Report, one in four IT groups aren’t measuring cloud collaboration results by whether business goals were achieved. They’re not even checking whether users adopted the solution. They’re just measuring whether the tool was implemented.

But implementation isn’t a useful measure of success. Sure, it’s the prerequisite for effective collaboration, but it’s just the first step. Your enterprise can only see a full return on its investment in collaboration technologies when employees actually use the tools—so user adoption is the first measure to focus on.

Putting resources into ensuring adoption pays off. The same report shows that when businesses fully implemented and adopted collaboration technologies, they reported some exciting benefits:

  • Accelerated decision-making—85 percent say that using collaboration technology has met or exceeded their expectations.
  • More efficient business processes—79 percent say collaboration has met or exceeded their expectations.
  • Improved customer service—86 percent say collaboration has met or exceeded their expectations.

Three techniques to increase adoption

Want comparable benefits for your enterprise? Here are three techniques our customers have used to increase adoption of collaboration tools and get great business results. Each company’s story is a little different, but they’ve all improved productivity and agility.

  1. Start with a familiar interface—For fashion group BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP (BCBG), successful adoption was simpler because they started with a familiar interface.

After evaluating Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, the IT team at BCBG was concerned that the unfamiliar Google interface would create a training and adoption challenge. “We needed something our employees could adopt now with minimum disruption to day-to-day business,” says Kent Fuller, director of IT Infrastructure Services at BCBG. “We have a lot of infrastructure transformation going on, and Google would have introduced new challenges.” With a familiar interface and credits for online training materials included with subscriptions, BCBG employees can easily adopt Office 365.

One of the main benefits has been productive collaboration. With an updated, advanced messaging and productivity environment, BCBG employees can send and receive email messages faster; have the right tools to produce better documents, spreadsheets and presentations; and collaborate more effectively with colleagues, customers, suppliers and other partners. “With Office 365, we can build a more effective, more comprehensive collaboration environment than we could have with Google Apps,” says Fuller.

  1. Turn executives into enthusiasts—For the KCOM Group, a national communications and information services organization in the United Kingdom, the rollout of its collaboration solution started at the top.

The company originally chose 40 senior executives to evaluate the Office Communications Server 2007 instant messaging, but the number of early users expanded organically and rapidly. “The technology sells itself once you start to use it,” says Dean Branton, group CIO at the KCOM Group and director of customer operations. “The senior team members immediately decided they wanted their direct reports using it as well, and then their extended teams, and then their personal assistants. Before we knew it, we had rolled out by stealth.”

“Now,” says Bill Halbert, executive chairman of the KCOM Group, “We are more flexible, more agile, and we can make quicker decisions, because it is much easier to find the information we need.”

5 reasons your IT team will benefit from a collaboration suite

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  1. Let the experts help build your plan—The process of building an Office 365 adoption was a little different for Mott MacDonald, a global consulting company. The Microsoft FastTrack Team helped the company with its adoption plan by providing both self-service resources and expert advice. “The FastTrack adoption methodology is really beneficial,” says Simon Denton, the business architect responsible for Office 365 implementation at Mott MacDonald. “It sets out quite clearly the steps we needed to go through to define principles and scenarios. Once we did that, we knew adoption would come easily. We based our entire adoption plan on the FastTrack documentation. It gave us a really good foundation.”

For example, Mott MacDonald encouraged adoption of its new Yammer enterprise social network with a “30 Days of Yammer” campaign, which involved all the staff and more than doubled the number of active and engaged users. Employees started using it to break down barriers within the organization much more quickly than anyone had expected.

The most important step: Start!

As soon as you roll out your collaboration solution, start measuring and tracking user adoption, and move decisively to address any hitches in the process. Implementing a suite solution and preparing your IT team to get employees up and running can be a daunting task—but Office 365 lets you move at your own pace. With our suite of available tools, you decide whether to migrate employees over in groups or by program. The ability to implement a steady rollout enables your teams to work at their own pace, allows you to save costs, and increases productivity by helping your business adapt to new streamlined solutions over time. Additionally, FastTrack for Office 365 provides customers with hands-on support to drive deployment and adoption at their own speed.

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