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Take a page from the CMO to drive Office 365 success

Microsoft | Posted on May 29, 2015 by Mack Ratcliffe

*Editors Note: this blog was updated April 1st, 2019

You might not think the CMO has much in common with the CIO. But as the role of IT morphs into a more user-centric, customer-first mentality, everyone in the innovation department might do well to look to the other side of the office for some inspiration.

And perhaps nowhere is this better exemplified than with personas.

What is a persona?

For years, marketers have relied on the concept of personas to better target, develop and tweak their campaigns – all of which leads to better results.

Personas are fictionalized characters based on hours of observation that encompass the various needs, pain points and behaviors of your real life users. It’s a short hand way to make sure you have a concrete person in mind when developing tactics and strategies, and it greatly helps you make smarter decisions when delivering on the unique needs of your target audience.

The power of personas

This may not seem all that new or ground breaking. But, the idea of personas is deceptively simple. And its power – especially when crafting a more user centric IT initiative like Office 365 – cannot be underestimated. Here’s why:

  • Personas are a deeply human way of understanding the impact IT has on real people. They help you tell stories, “use cases”, that are essential when predicting how a technology will fit in
  • You know that saying, everything looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer? Persona creation ensures you face up to the fact that multiple parties, with varying needs will be engaging with the technology solution you are putting into place
  • For the first time ever, we have Millenials working under the same roof as boomers and Gen Xer – all extremely distinct in their habits. , A persona is a useful tool for minding and catering to these differences.

Office 365 is a perfect test bed for personas

In 2015, organizations deepening their commitment to cloud and hybrid environments more than ever. In many cases, Office 365 is just the starting point.

If your organization is part of this trend, this is the perfect opportunity to put the idea of personas to the test as you develop and rollout your initiative. Why? Office 365 is a pervasive set of technologies in many workplaces, but it is also highly customizable depending on the worker, and the task.

For this reason, leveraging personas will bring clarity to your roadmap and identify opportunities to substantially improve the rate of adoption. That in turn will produce faster returns and value to the business.

Creating a persona

Creating a persona couldn’t be simpler – but it is a time intensive exercise, one that requires interacting closely with the various stakeholders.

  1. Determine user segments: Start by mapping out in broad strokes all the user types and various roles that will be involved in using the new Office 365 functionalities
  2. Get to know your users: Pick up the phone. Set up one on ones. Create focus groups. Do whatever you can to get to know your user segments, their challenges, their day to day lives and so on.
  3. Develop a rich, textured persona: Now you can start getting granular and depicting a rich and realistic picture of who your users are, and what they do on a day to day basis.
  4. Create usage scenarios: Next up, put your users into situations you anticipate will be part of the normal and not so normal days at work. Try and think through as many scenarios as possible, and observe what this means for the technology solutions you might need, and also, might NOT need. Part of persona building is also about cutting out the unnecessary fat.
  5. Use your end-user personas to guide a discussion around use cases: This will make this real and allow you to ensure you’re delivering on the needs of end-users.

Get started

To help you along, we’ve put together a brand new guide for building a comprehensive, user-centric Office 365 strategy. In addition to checklists and downloadable templates, the guide is packed with expert advice from our Microsoft team.

Download your free copy of The Complete Guide to Building a User-Centric Office 365.

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