Imagine paying for a full tank of gas but only filling it a quarter of the way. Or, buying a dozen eggs but only using three of them. It’s wasteful and doesn’t make sense. However, that’s what’s happening with enterprise software.
On average, companies are wasting 37 percent of what they spend on software, costing more than $30 billion or or roughly $259 per desktop, according to a report by UK software company 1E. Among Microsoft products, the study reported 7 percent waste of Office Professional Plus licenses, 52 percent waste of Visio Standard licenses, and 45 percent waste of Project Professional licenses.
In a study conducted by Gartner, researchers examined how organizations were using Office 365 and determined that increased usage does not equate to increased value. Gartner asked respondents which Office 365 components their organizations use and asked them to assign each element a value on a scale from 0 to 100.
For usage, the results were as expected—more than half of respondents indicated that their organizations primarily use six of the 18 identified Office elements—Office ProPlus and Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, OneNote, and Skype for Business Online. Usage of Teams, Power BI and others were substantially lower, some as low as 30 percent.
One of the most notable findings from the Gartner survey was the disparity between usage and value. For example, while almost three-quarters of respondents indicated that they use SharePoint, they assigned it an average of 14 points out of 100 for value. The gap between usage and value was even wider for OneNote, Teams, OneDrive for Business, and Skype for Business.
Change without context is rarely met with enthusiasm—it can cause confusion and even active resistance
The findings from these and other studies highlight the need for organizations to change how they approach technology investments. Technology changes more frequently, as do business objectives. In digital business, organizations cannot afford to let investments collect dust.
To combat waste, direct your focus toward your users. Here are ways to get started:
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Change without context is rarely met with enthusiasm—it can cause confusion and even active resistance. Lay the groundwork for change by providing communication, training and support early on. Explain why they need to use the new technology, and how it can improve the way they work (“what’s in it for me?” or WIIFM). Stir up excitement about the change and convince people that they want to use the new technology.
Get a running start. In the early stages of a technology transition, take steps to ensure your users get back up to pre-migration productivity levels quickly. Provide training for new features and show employees how applications like Teams and SharePoint can improve collaboration and minimize frustration. Use learner personas to create targeted, effective training that suits a range of learning styles and preferences.
Keep an eye on what’s ahead. It’s important to keep an eye on Microsoft’s roadmap to see what changes are in development, are rolling out, or have recently been launched. Communicate those changes to employees on a regular basis and provide training and support to ensure minimal downtime.
Strengthen the foundation with a continuous learning culture. Historically, employees have primarily used just a handful of Office applications to get their tasks done—Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But today, such a limited set of tools is not enough. Ensure employees know how to use critical applications like Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, plus some of Excel’s more advanced features. Provide an overview of how each program works, and how they can simplify collaboration and improve productivity. Be sure to offer training that provides use cases relevant to their jobs, and support that’s available when they need it.
Getting the most out of software investments is no longer “nice-to-have”—it’s a requirement in today’s digital business landscape. For organizations, that means changing their approach to one that prioritizes people. When companies ensure their employees use the tools and use them properly, value will naturally increase.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.