Getting to know Office 365. How do we unlock the value?

  • Posted on June 14, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

The deployment of Office 365 has been top of the agenda for most IT departments over the past few years – in fact, for many this was the first “dipping-of-the-toe” into public cloud architectures.

But now, the ink from your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement has dried, your Office 365 foundation is in place, you’re starting to decommission your legacy or out-of-support infrastructure and harvesting your initial IT TCO-based business case is looking more like a reality. Now we ask ourselves a different kind of question: "How do you get your business users to adopt the new functionality of the platform?"

I believe this is where opportunity exists. This is where we can be changing the conversation to ask different questions that can be much more impactful on the business whether that’s better digital, better human or better physical experiences:

  • "How can you use Office 365 as a business improvement platform?"

  • "How can we enable our people to work better, faster, simpler, and ultimately more productively?"

  • How can we offer our people better experiences?

Simply deploying technology will not lead to high business value realisation and the most effective experience for people. You need to look beyond the technology to really understand how your employees work and how they can be better.

So how do you change the conversation? In my opinion, there are some key considerations:

Co-create and design experiences with your people, not for them
Technology has transformed the way we live – from the way we communicate (Social Media, WhatsApp, Mobile), to how we behave (Alexa, Uber, JustEat), and we are expecting these same experiences when we work as well. The thing is, I’ve heard many employees say that when they step into the office, it’s like stepping back 10 years. That doesn’t mean the technology isn’t available, it just means the experiences are not.

Let’s take Microsoft Teams as an example. Many organisations use it as part of the Office 365 suite, however they are seeing low adoption rates as it’s overwhelming users and/or they are not sure how or why they should use it. In comparison, where organisations have worked with employees using design thinking techniques, they managed to reimagine the daily journey for their employees, embedding Microsoft Teams as a core part of their everyday business. At the same time, these organisations are saving 12% to 15% annually just in travel costs – notwithstanding improvements in employee engagement, productivity and collaboration.

Your people know their business and daily challenges the best. By working with them, you can not only deliver great technology – you can deliver meaningful business improvement.

Enable a business case, not an IT case
Whilst most Office 365 deployments are driven by a business case, it is largely focused on harvesting core IT savings such as lower infrastructure, licensing, operational and service costs – an IT case. To drive real business impact, typically within a self-funded investment framework, you need to look at the opportunities across the business from your roadmap of new employee experiences:

  • Value realisation in your business case should be quick and regular as opposed to long periods of execution without dropping value

  • Release your untapped value. I have seen many organisations where value can immediately be harvested through short and targeted action. A good example is where Microsoft Lync is deployed, but not utilised within the organisation. By initiating a tactical change management intervention, you can quickly drive adoption (with the right behaviour) that can unlock immediate savings to be reinvested into your larger programme

  • Business benefits should be aligned to the new employee experiences that you will unlock. Again, it is key to work with the business to understand the value throughout the journey. For example, if employees can work from home more, what does this mean for your physical space requirements?

Address the culture shift
Enabling your people with new experience and aligning that with a great vision and associated value drivers will allow you to assist in real business change. However, a key aspect to address is ensuring that you work closely with leadership to enable the right culture shift. Adoption alone does not enable value realisation. The impact of how people use it is what will unlock the benefits.

For example, employees that collaborate in OneDrive by saving multiple copies of the same document will not drive the same value as employees jointly editing a single document. Your approach to enabling a culture shift needs to be joined with your organisational leadership, and needs to be deliberate.

Learn more about Uncomplicating Office 365 with our practical guide to transforming your employee experience – and realizing the business value of Office 365.

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