There’s no point in having new technology if it is not used. Yet, the vast majority of business applications today are implemented with no or very little user training. When training is employed, it is usually for specific technical features.
This often leaves users frustrated and demotivated, which in turn results in poor return on investment for businesses. In an era of cloud services, it also adds a risk for technology providers. When licenses are moved from perpetual to monthly subscriptions, customers are free to sign off the service at any time, leaving the technology provider out of income.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder one of the new initiatives announced at the recent Microsoft Inspire event was about user adoption and how to ensure customer success in Microsoft’s most important business application areas: Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365.
User adoption ensures recurring revenue
For solution providers, ensuring high rates of user adoption is the only way to succeed. But, while cloud services are easy to activate, they are equally easy to leave as well. Unless users get expected value from the service, they will take their custom elsewhere. This results in high levels of churn. More often than not, this is due to user adoption. Even with the greatest usability, for the user to be motivated to use a solution, they need to understand it. If the benefits are not crystal clear during the first use, then getting the users to return is difficult.
Recent Microsoft data shows that pure technology implementation business is decreasing – in the case of Office 365 its down by almost one fifth. In contrast, user adoption services are seen to be a growing business for years to come. This is good news for partners: instead of one technology project, they can shift their income streams to the ongoing support of business needs.
User adoption is the key for fast ROI
Any business solution investment should pay off as an investment. The faster the return of investment, the more valuable it is for the buyer and thus it’s easier to sell. The key to fast deployment and its associated benefits is naturally the rate of how quickly the solution is adopted. Despite the greatest design, very few business applications are self-explanatory. That is already the case simply because they are not designed to help an individual’s needs, but to support corporate function. Therefore, there is always need for reasoning and support.
However, for a service provider – and especially an implementation partner – there is another important aspect to notice. If customers are not adopting the new technology, key users of the solution must invest a lot of time in training and communication. Their focus is on supporting the old, rather than thinking about the next development projects or new features to be used. Ensuring fast user adoption does not only secure the future of the current solution, it also results in new sales opportunities.
User adoption differentiates from competition
Although the need for user adoption is obvious, very few technology companies or buyers really pay attention to it. It is something that is taken for granted. After all, the requirement is to implement a new solution – not to fix a problem.
However, a growing number of customers have become aware of the high failure rates of IT projects. According to Microsoft, 75% of customer relationship management project failures are due to lack of user adoption. Therefore, the most successful companies have either integrated user adoption into their implementation model, or they are building a separate practice to ensure long term success of the delivered solutions. Although not all customers are specifically asking for these capabilities, being able to address the concern of long-term value gives the technology provider an edge over the competition.
User adoption is not something that you can just buy. It is the result of good solution capabilities and a set of activities to ensure high usability and understanding. These activities involve communication, training and ongoing support. Only with all of this in place will users keep coming back.
JP Wirta is co-founder at Happit
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