Friday, March 2, 2012

The Importance of User Experience: Part 2

As I mentioned before, I recently presented at the Know Your Alternatives conference in Toronto about the importance of a Simplified User Experience to user adoption and capturing a full return on your UC investment.

I previously touched on the negative effects of poor Adoption, including lost productivity and an altogether negative perception of IT and the value it brings to the organization.

Challenges in Communication

It’s not news that Information Workers are sending and receiving more and more messages from more and more locations…

“The average Information Worker gets more than 51 messages a day in up to seven different locations” – Harris Interactive

…and we communicate from many different devices and applications.

“Businesses average more than six communications devices and almost five communications applications per employee.” – Sage Research

Multiple disconnected systems leave us confused and wondering where to turn.


We know what we need to do, we are pretty sure there’s a tool somewhere to help, but we don’t remember where to go, who to talk to, which application to start, or how to use the application once we find it.

[PeopleOnConferenceCallStaringAtPhone[4].jpg]Once we do land on a tool that is actually useful for it’s purpose, it often comes with it’s own set of challenges and deficiencies.  Have a look at Quit staring at that conference phone and change the dynamic of your meetings for a prime example.


So why is Adoption a challenge?

There are many reasons why technology adoption is a challenge, but here a few in particular…


With the constant introduction of new technologies, new software versions, new work challenges, and the increased goal for employees to find a healthy work-life balance, users find it difficult just to keep up.


Many users find what they like and get comfortable doing what they do.  The introduction of new features and capabilities, regardless of how “cool” or seemingly valuable they are, does not correspond to the uptake and adoption because users aren’t compelled to change.


Similar to the above reason, user habits are very hard to break.  A good example of this one is people who still print everything before reading it, or who print presentation materials and bring them to a meeting, rather than leveraging their notebook PC and a soft-copy of the presentation.


Organizations sometimes don’t sufficiently consider personal learning styles, different retention capabilities of users, and the difference between training delivery and effectiveness.  How do you measure if training was effective?  Do you even try to?  Tough to expect healthy adoption if you don’t!


Finally, even if we’ve conducted thorough training and measured it’s immediate effectiveness, we often neglect the ongoing attention needed to ensure adoption continues.  As we move on to the next thing we forget to go back and evaluate effectiveness and adoption 3, 6, 18 months later.

These themes are at a high level.  Let’s bring it back to UC.  How can a Simplified User Experience help improve Adoption of a UC solution?

A Better Way

Microsoft Lync provides a single fully-unified experience that helps overcome many adoption challenges.


With Lync, new features and capabilities and intuitive and easy to understand and use.  User are empowered and unafraid to try something new!  Powerful communications are made available in context within the applications being used everyday such as Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint.  In many rollouts, users look over the shoulders of colleagues enjoying Lync and ask how they can get their hands on it!

Take a quick peek at this video and see how the Commonwealth Bank of Australia saw 60% adoption of Lync in just 24 hours!


Now, User Experience is critical to user adoption but there’s definitely more to consider to really get it right.

Strategies for Adoption

Microsoft has provided a free framework for Facilitating a Successful Rollout of UC solutions.  Even with a product as easy to use as Lync, having a well thought-out plan and team to guide the rollout is critical. 


In addition to process, tools and resources are important and invaluable in planning and executing on a successful rollout.  Microsoft also provides a free Adoption and Training Kit which includes:

  • Targeted content for IT pros, Project Managers, Trainers, Help Desk workers, and Users
  • Best Practices, Resources, and Strategies
  • Fully Customizable material
  • Planning workbook
  • Guidance and resources aligned to user roles
  • Troubleshooting script for level 1 support
  • Cost-effective training strategy for each user role
  • Custom Intranet Site


Poor adoption of technology affects everything from user confidence to the bottom line.  Microsoft Lync is a UC solution that is proven to be more readily adopted due to it’s powerful capability, ease of use, and integration into the Microsoft Office suite.

In addition to having the right technology, be sure to take the time and leverage existing resources to properly plan for and manage your rollout.