How familiar is this little IM scenario to you?

Bob's IM: Hey Frank, do you have the project specs ready yet?
Frank's IM: yeah, busy right now can I send it later?
Bob's IM: Sorry Frank, your Presence didn't say you were busy. Later's fine.
Frank's IM: ok
(Frank's Presence status doesn't change at all for the next week. Bob gets his specs the next day.)

What's the problem here? User adoption. Or lack thereof. In this case, lack of adoption of OCS' Presence tool.

One of the biggest hurdles in Unified Communications is getting users to start using it. People “don't have time” or “aren't used to it” (how are you supposed to get used to something if you never use it?).

Why We're Nervous About Switching to Unified Communications

There's a simple reason why people don't want to switch to new technology like UC – we're afraid.

Oh, not of UC itself. It doesn't bite. It's just another manifestation of the human fear of change.

Nothing wrong with that. (Fear of change evolved for very good reasons at the time!) But it does get in the way of adopting newer technologies like Office Communicator or Exchange 2010.

Unified Communications contains new ways for users to communicate among themselves (and with customers). Disrupting the long-standing order of Phone and Email? People are bound to hesitate.

Someone will have to push the office to switch.

If you're the sysadmin or IT manager…that's you. (Sorry.)

Two Ways to Spur Adoption

Make it Dead Simple
Offer a training course. Mandatory.

Provide reference material. (The Unified Communications Strategies blog has solid UC material.)

Indicate what aspects of Unified Communications should be used for which activities. For example, all internal phone calls will be done through Office Communicator. Any non-critical project discussions should use IMs. And so on. Write up the complete list and post it someplace everyone will see it.

Remove Alternatives
Schedule the “old system” for deactivation at some point in the future (say 30-60 days from UC implementation). Now this may not always work – in some cases, the “old system” is the phone!

If adoption is the goal however, you may not have a choice. You'll have to make it difficult for people to use anything except the UC channels.

Remove any old phones. Make a big announcement that everyone will use Unified Communications channels from now on. Change company cellphone plans if necessary.

People will grumble and complain about it for a few days, maybe weeks. But they'll adapt.

I think I'll go into more detail on these next week. In the meantime, how have you spurred user adoption of a new product or technology? Share your story in the comments.

Is Lack of User Adoption Hampering Your UC Plans?
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