Ignite2019PanelSession

Microsoft taps Vitalyst to Share Keys to Successful Customer Adoption and Change Management of Office 365—Insights from Ignite 2019, Part 1

One of the major themes at this year’s Ignite conference was helping Microsoft customers maximize the business value of using Office 365 and Teams. In this blog series, we will explore this theme from the perspective of Microsoft, of Microsoft sales and service channel partners, and our joint customers as they share their experiences deploying and adopting Office 365 and Teams.

Click to view video of Vitalyst's panel discussion, filmed live at Ignite 2019.
Click to view video of Vitalyst’s panel discussion, filmed live at Ignite 2019.

At Ignite, Microsoft hosted dozens of sessions that underscored the importance of adoption and change management to customer success, but one session in particular stood out because it included all three perspectives. The session, titled “Accelerating adoption and change management with expert best practices,” was moderated by Ginny Hoban, Senior Partner Marketing Manager at Microsoft, and featured Greg Headley, Microsoft Alliance Director at Vitalyst, Alyssa Gonzalez, Senior Director – User Experience CBS Technology, and Nancy Wang, Organization Development Consultant from Pacific Life’s Change Management Center of Excellence.

Although the session covered a full range of key topics, Hoban set the tone for the panel: “Over the past few years, we’ve really been seeing this increased need for focus on value. We all know it, right? You deploy new technology and it just doesn’t get you quite what you wanted in terms of that value you expected when you decided to deploy it,” she said. “People aren’t using the new technology or aren’t fully understanding how to use it to get to the business outcome that they want. . . .”

“[T]o get the full value,” Hoban explained, “there needs to be a focus on end-user adoption and behavior change.”

This makes sense when viewed in the context of the Microsoft ecosystem. With the volume of customers migrating to Windows 10 and Office 365, moving to Teams from Skype for Business and other competing platforms, and looking to transform to a Modern Workplace and modernize their communication and collaboration capabilities, employees and end-users may find the sheer volume of changes hard to keep up with. Add to that the breakneck pace at which Microsoft continues to innovate and add new features and functionality to Office 365 and Teams, and organizations can also find it hard to keep up.

This is where change enablement and adoption services can play a critical role. As Hoban commented, “[T]he idea of change management—looking at what your business goals are, outcomes that you are trying to achieve, the impact that a change in technology can have, both positive and negative, is really important. At the end of the day, if an organization deploys new technology and it disrupts their business, or end-users don’t use it, then that business value was not achieved. So, for us, it is all about ensuring that our customers are supported and enabled to maximize the value of their investments in our technology.”

While many organizations view this as something that can be handled internally by their IT and support teams, often they underestimate the amount of time and resources to do this effectively. “While some customers may have the skills to successfully deploy and drive adoption,” Hoban said, “often they don’t have the bandwidth and resources.”

This is where Microsoft partners like Vitalyst play an important role—they help customers overcome bandwidth and resource constraints and achieve their business goals with Microsoft technology.

“None of us have enough time to do everything we want to do,” said Hoban. “So, being able to bring in a partner to support and scale in these areas can be extremely valuable.”

According to Hoban, finding a partner that specializes in change management and adoption is even more valuable—because they have an outside perspective and experience working with customers of every type and size, and they have the expertise to identify opportunities to drive more business value.

None of us have enough time to do everything we want to do, so being able to bring in a partner to support and scale can be extremely valuable.

–Ginny Hoban, Senior Partner Marketing Manager at Microsoft

This is especially true for Microsoft Teams, which helps customers to transform the way they work, collaborate and communicate internally and with their customers. As Hoban explained, “When we talk to our customers and ask if they feel like they’ve achieved the adoption level that they want for Teams, many organizations say they haven’t. We see so much more opportunity for our customers to drive business value from Teams.”

“And with Teams, it’s about the use cases,” she noted. “It’s about the why. It’s about the value and being able to really talk to your end-users about why they should be using it, how they should be using it, and really coming up with a plan for how you’re going to do communications and training and excitement around driving this.”

“Some of that work customers can do themselves—maybe all of it they can do themselves,” Hoban said. “But what we’re seeing is that there’s a lot of value in bringing in a partner to help with the skill sets that they don’t have.”

As for how and where customers should start as they begin to plan their deployment and adoption of Office 365 and Teams, Hoban advised, “[T]he first thing you want to start thinking about is … do you have a clear vision of what is expected to change for end-users as a result of the technology initiative?”

Microsoft’s Teamwork Assessment has become an invaluable tool for us as we help customers explore this topic and define the goals and business outcomes that they hope to achieve with their deployments.

But to achieve success, organizations must have more than just an awareness of the changes—they need to understand how end-users will respond, and what kind of support they will need to adapt and adopt the technology quickly, and begin using it productively.

Said Hoban: “You want to really get a sense of how much a project’s success depends on that employee’s willingness and ability to change. … [H]ow much do we need to make sure that they are changing to get that business outcome? How are you going to be thinking about that resistance? How did you or your teams handle change in the past? Has there been a negative experience in the past?”

To help address resistance, organizations must also be able to explain the reason for the change—why they are making a change and what they hope to achieve by doing so. According to Hoban, organizations with a clear business outcome will find it easier to explain the change to end-users.

As Hoban noted, some of the work required for adoption and change management can be done by the customers themselves, but customers who use adoption services with partners like Vitalyst see a greater impact.

According to Hoban, organizations with a clear business goal will find it easier to explain the change to end-users.

So what impact are change enablement and adoption services delivered by partners such as Vitalyst having for customers?

As Hoban shared, “[W]e are seeing some really amazing results … customers who are using adoption services, who are working with MCS, who are working with partners are seeing an increase in the adoption of 4.5 times against those who don’t. They’re seeing real value that is coming out of working with partners—working with someone to help them come up with a strategy and a plan,” she said.

Stay tuned: In part two of this blog, we will explore the role Vitalyst plays as Microsoft’s leading Change Enablement and Adoption partner through the insights shared by Greg Headley, Vitalyst’s Microsoft Alliance Director, during the session.

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