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Why businesses aren’t adopting key features of Skype for Business and Lync

Microsoft | Posted on October 30, 2015 by Tobin Dalrymple

When I was growing up, I absolutely loved my Swiss Army knife. I brought that little red package of magic with me everywhere, especially on camping trips. After a while though, the little plastic toothpick fell out of its slot and was lost for good. Then, same strange thing happened with the tweezers. And another time the spring-hinge snapped out of the little scissors, making them useless.

All of which didn’t mean a thing to me: the knife part was still good. As long as the knife was on it there was no problem. In fact, I don’t even know why they included all those ‘other’ features – all I ever wanted was the knife.

Skype for Business is like that Swiss Army knife.

People are buying a bundle of features, but they’re hardly using any of them. What’s worse, they are not even using the knife, they are using the tweezers (Majority of users are not using video conferencing but rather instant massaging feature).

Not only are companies spending money on unused tools, it’s also seriously hindering their chances at driving real change and results through modern communication & collaboration suite.

Businesses aren’t fully adopting Skype for Business

Timothy Day, Softchoice’s resident Skype Sr. Systems Engineer, spends his time investigating organizations’ collaboration environments, pulling reports on how their existing tools are being used to help decide the best path forward for an upgrade. And he says it’s a common occurrence to see Skype being totally under-used.

“I’ve gone into some places where there’s 400 to 500 users, with all the features enabled, like voice conference, voicemail, all that,” Day explains, “but when you pull the report, the business is only making 3 or 4 conference calls a week. But they are sending tens of thousands of instant messages a day.”

Day’s experience is reflected in a study we conducted, revealing that most unified communications strategies fail in part because of a lack of adoption across all features of a solution. The presentation below has some interesting numbers on this, for example: 70% of employees surveyed had video conferencing featured, but only 5 percent were using it.”

So what?

This isn’t just a quirk of technology usage. Under-used investments such as Skype for Business cause a series of headaches for IT leaders and drive up costs to the organization. To list just a few of the worst side-effects:

  • Leads to failure: Low adoption means your chances of getting the results you hoped for are slim
  • Complexity: if users aren’t using Skype to make their calls or host conferences, they are doing something else. This means IT departments are likely having to manage and troubleshoot for multiple systems and platforms, all of which is a senseless waste of IT resources.
  • Expensive: when you don’t know just how rich Skype collaboration can be, you might be wasting money flying executives out for a face-to-face, or paying for a third-party service to host conferences.

How can you fix this?

Day said the problem can be traced back to a few root causes. Top among them is training – or the lack of it, to be specific. Users are simply not aware, or they are intimidated by all the features available to them. Similarly, he said generational gaps play a role. Some more mature users simply prefer face to face or using the phone, and they have no desire to begin using the new technology. Whatever the root causes are, it seems the underlying theme is that lack of adoption is a people problem, not a technology problem. But that doesn’t mean that IT has nothing to do with the solution.

In fact, it’s your job as the IT visionary to ensure that your technology initiative works and shows results. And according to Day, there are some simple, powerful steps you can lead to do just that.

Training, training, training

Any good rollout plan must involve an extensive, ongoing strategy for training. Day says this is probably the most important thing needed to ensure users get everything they can out of Skype for Business. Some advice: training isn’t always best performed by the IT team. Get HR involved, or lean on a partner like Softchoice, to facilitate these events. Secondly, ongoing training and resources are essential. Create a portal that will always be up to date and able to help users get answers they need.

Focus on the business case

Part of the problem lies partly with the business strategy. If you are paying for multiple third party tools, but can replace them all with Skype, that’s a powerful proposition to make to the boardroom. Do the research and comparisons needed to highlight which features will make the most fiscal impact and share these insights with your higher-ups. Some companies that made the leap toward cloud based telephony systems saw savings as high as 50% after migrating.

Focus on the user

Excitement is one of the most powerful tools to drive adoption. Day says users are frequently unaware of some the coolest, most engaging features available to them (things like Call forward and simultaneous ring, for instance). Make sure you underline what is in it for the end-user: if you can make their lives easier, or have them experience first-hand just how easy, fast and enjoyable the tool is, chance are better they will use it again.

Get started with some resources

Go check out our User Centric Office 365 hub – there you will find tools to help you plan your rollout, communications and training initiatives; as well as do-it-yourself checklists, guides and more. All these will come in handy as you push toward driving more adoption of Skype for Business.

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