User Adoption Strategies for Office 365: Failure or Success?

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“Change is a process, not an event. Change does not regularly happen with a single big bang event. There are a series of distinct events that make up the overall process” (Michael Sampson)

When new technologies are introduced in a company, employees are expected to change their method of working and their habits to adopt the new tools and systems. Yet, as Michael Sampson points out, this is not so immediate, since change is a complex process.

Web 2.0 Technologies in Organizations: a McKinsey & Company Survey

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In 2008, McKinsey & Company conducted the second annual global survey on the business use, adoption and satisfaction of Web 2.0 Technologies. They define the Web 2.0 technologies as wikis, blogs, social networks, mash-ups. They asked the executives to respond to questions about: the use of these tools in their companies, the reasons behind those choices, the adoption strategies applied and the level of satisfaction of users.

This survey revealed that companies are investing a lot in new technologies and are starting to use them intensively as part of the business practice. Yet, a negative scenario has been drawn. Indeed, many companies experience difficulties in understanding and realizing the real benefits of the Web 2.0 technologies. In fact, McKinsey & Company reported that only 21 % of respondents are satisfied overall with web 2.0 tools, while 22% are dissatisfied. There are even some disappointed companies that stopped using certain technologies, with higher costs from the negative investment.

This survey demonstrated that the most satisfied respondents are those who use these tools on a regular basis in their daily work, having great benefits form Web 2.0 technologies. On the contrary, respondents who declared dissatisfied with new technologies, admitted that they did not use them that much, having no stimulus or real reasons to change their habits at work.

McKinsey & Company concluded this survey with the statement: “A higher level of usage and satisfaction is found at companies that encourage it by using tactics such as integrating the tools into existing workflows, launching web 2.0 in conjunction with other strategic initiatives, and getting senior managers to act as role models for adoption”.

Satisfaction and Adoption of New Technologies with User Adoption Strategies


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Therefore, we can say that the solution to reach satisfaction and complete adoption of the new technologies introduced in organizations, is user adoption strategies.

Michael Sampson is a worldwide known expert in user adoption and collaboration technologies. He wrote seven books and presented workshops and conferences in 15 countries: The Netherlands, England, the United States, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand. In his book User Adoption Strategies. Shifting Second Wave People to New Collaboration Technology (2012), defines user adoption strategies as “the strategies that an organization can use to encourage people to start using a new collaboration technology”.

Michael Sampson, thanks to his great experience worldwide, ensures that user adoption is a common issue among organizations all over the world. He also adds that “there is growing agreement among multiple groups of people involved with collaboration technology that an intentional focus on user adoption is essential”. What he experienced in hundreds of companies, is that the most common dynamic in organizations during the change process to adopt new technologies, is that there will be a group of people who quickly and actively embrace the new collaboration technology, the so called ‘early adopters’. Yet, there are only a few early adopters and the majority of people,  will be instead more reluctant, having difficulties in adopting and using the new tools. Hence, it is essential to engage also this ‘second wave people’ and help them to see the benefits and advantages of the new technologies for their daily work. Only in this way, they will actually use these tools and be satisfied.

In conclusion, McKinsey’s survey dates back to 2008 and Michael Sampson wrote his book in 2012. Today, after almost a decade, do you think that the scenarios they depicted are still real and applicable to the business reality? To which extent have they been forward-looking? 

While Michael Sampson is going on studying the phenomenon of new collaboration technologies in organizations (see his blog for the latest developments) and McKinsey & Company have not stopped doing surveys on Web 2.0 technologies in businesses, how are companies today dealing with user adoption strategies in their everyday working life?