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The View from the Ground at Ignite 2019: A Vitalyst Training Leader Shares What She Learned Running Microsoft Teams Immersion Sessions

At this year’s Ignite conference, one of the major themes was helping Microsoft customers maximize the business value of using Office 365 and Teams. In a recent blog series, we looked at the importance of change enablement and adoption, and the value that Microsoft partners can provide to customers who are deploying Office 365 and Teams—from Microsoft’s perspective, Vitalyst’s perspective, and from our customers’ perspective.

In this blog, Vitalyst Training Delivery Leader Shaakirah Milton shares the insights she gained leading Microsoft Teams Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) sessions at Ignite 2019.

Microsoft’s 2019 Ignite conference provided me with a lot to think about—including the hundreds of changes announced in an 89-page PDF Microsoft issued on the first day of the conference, as well as what I learned from my awe-inspiring experience leading Vitalyst’s Microsoft Teams CIE sessions throughout the week.

Vitalyst’s Teams CIE facilitators Shaakirah Milton and Iffy Iwelunmor at Ignite 2019.

As the sessions, conversations and networking concluded, I was left with one critical thought: To drive successful adoption of Teams, organizations must prioritize change enablement and adoption efforts.

Here’s why: Without a doubt, Teams is unlike other Microsoft applications—it’s a new and unfamiliar approach to workplace communication and collaboration. It’s packed with features and integrations—and Microsoft will continue to add new functionality with every software update. Because every organization has unique transformation goals, challenges and journeys, they will each use Teams in a different way. Even within companies, different user personas and a range of learning styles require organizations to provide various training and support options—including self-paced, live and instructor-led, software coaching, and more.

There is no simple, universal path to successful adoption of Microsoft Teams, but there is a very valuable tool that organizations of any type and size can use to prioritize change enablement and adoption, and, ultimately, achieve success with Teams—the use case.

Creating use cases motivates organizations to define the goals they want to achieve with Teams, whether organization-wide or team-specific. At Ignite, we asked questions at the beginning of each of our CIE sessions to encourage attendees to think about and come up with example use cases and, thus, goals. We discussed the importance of identifying user personas, and how aligning them with use cases can increase adoption of Teams.

The planning that’s required for use cases helps organizations avoid mid-project surprises and ensures users are prepared with targeted, ongoing training.

Employing use cases also fosters a deeper knowledge of the technology, both for IT and business users. In our sessions, use cases enabled us to provide attendees with relevant, hands-on lessons that demonstrated what Teams can do for their organization—how they can use governance to better define user needs, and training to meet those needs.

Of course, the use case is no magic bullet—rather, it represents the customization, time investment, and guidance that’s required for Teams adoption. Without guidance, misconceptions about what Teams is and what it’s capable of will persist. Employees will use only the most basic features and organizations will not see the benefits the technology can deliver.

WITHOUT GUIDANCE, MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WHAT TEAMS IS AND WHAT IT’S CAPABLE OF WILL PERSIST. EMPLOYEES WILL USE ONLY THE MOST BASIC FEATURES AND ORGANIZATIONS WILL NOT SEE THE BENEFITS THE TECHNOLOGY CAN DELIVER.

For example, some of our session attendees said they deployed Teams, but no one uses it. Others said they use it, but only for inconsequential collaboration like coordinating lunch breaks, or to prepare for Microsoft’s retirement of Skype. Here are some of the other concerns and questions attendees shared during the sessions:

  • Change enablement and user adoption: What can organizations do to encourage employees to use Teams? What kind of training options should companies provide, and how should they go about it?
  • Governance: How can companies ensure that Teams is secured across the organization? What options exist for external sharing, guest access, team creation policies and standards, and public vs. private teams?
  • Connectors: How to set up connectors and apps developed by Microsoft, third parties, and those created within an organization.
  • Communication: Best practices for communicating with employees about future expectations for use, new features and changes from Microsoft, training opportunities, and more.
  • Data storage: Where is Teams data stored and how can organizations set retention policies?

Several session participants said they initially viewed Teams as something that was being forced upon them. After spending about an hour with us learning more about Teams’ capabilities and digging into governance and use cases, they now see it as an opportunity for growth.

That change in thinking represents a win—for me as a CIE facilitator, for Vitalyst, for organizations looking to thrive in digital business, and for users who aim to be productive, innovative, and proud of what they do.

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