Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Don’t let your collaboration tools gather dust

July 27, 2017

Use it or lose it

Collaboration tools are a lot like a gym membership.

People buy them, with good intentions, to fix a problem.

But in both cases, just buying them achieves precisely nothing at all. You actually have to use them if you want to see some results. They do no good gathering dust.

That’s easier said than done. Changing habits is hard … even though we know, with absolute certainty, that both fitness and collaboration are good for us.

When push comes to shove, most people would rather sit on the sofa than pound a treadmill for an hour. And in the office, when people are busy with “real” work, they’ll resort back to good ol’ email to get stuff done, instead of embracing change and trying new tools.


You can’t do this with email. But still, people persist with tools that just aren’t fit for purpose…

Change is hard. Really hard.

Humans have deep, primal objections to exposing themselves to new situations and starting new activities. The unknown is scary.

Take the gym for example. We’re afraid of looking silly in front of people. We don’t know how the equipment works. We feel we don’t have the time to fit it in to our busy lives. We fear it won’t produce the results we were hoping to see — or maybe we don’t even have a clear vision of what we want to achieve in the first place.

Look at these people, enjoying exercise. Stock photos are *so* unrealistic.

The same kind of objections come up when you install a new collaboration solution for your teams. Why are we doing this?  It’s too hard to use. I have my inbox set up just the way I like it. It’ll never work. What’s wrong with the phone, anyway?

Of course, these are just excuses — but they’re powerful all the same. And we can’t overcome them just by being firm with employees. Nobody likes being told what to do.

Plan for success

The steps to success are the same for both fitness and for collaboration.

  • Help people know where they are today, and set clear goals. Show them what they could achieve. Explain “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me).
  • Give people the information and help they need to make a change. Build an onboarding plan just for them so they know what the future holds. Patiently explain how everything works, at their pace.
  • Motivate and encourage. Answer their questions and listen to their concerns. Communicate with them to encourage them and tackle their uncertainty. Celebrate their successes.

Effectively, that means you, the collaboration champion in your organisation, need to go out and do some marketing to your colleagues and spend time onboarding them. You need to be their personal trainer and psychiatrist and technical support guy all in one. And there’s no shortcut to this change management process — no matter how great the collaboration tools, your users won’t magically dive into it on day one without some handholding.

Are you ready to play coach to your users?

We can be your wingman

If you’re worried that you don’t have the resources, expertise or time to play this uber change-manager role, we can help.

Our Collaboration Adoption Services are there at every stage of the process. We can help you:

  • Audit current usage and behaviours across specific user segments, so you know what challenges and resistance you’re up against. We can do this through usage data from your collaboration tools, as well as through discovery workshops and assessments.
  • Define goals to aim towards on a clear timeline, based on a full understanding of your requirements and any roadblocks in your way. We’ll base our plans around specific use cases that make the impact of collaboration tangible to particular employee roles. And of course it’s important to define KPIs to measure success (including soft factors like user sentiment).
  • Build and execute a change-management plan that addresses the big picture, including cultural and leadership factors, behaviours and processes, as well as technologies and policies.
  • Look ahead through ongoing reinforcement activities, and build a roadmap for scaling and advancing your collaboration performance.

We’ll roll up our sleeves and get stuck in with you: helping develop internal communications awareness campaigns with infographics, videos and quick reference guides, running on-site or remote training classes, creating documentation and reference materials for employees, coaching your teams, offering user support, running surveys and tracking KPI progress.

Fighting fit

Like a fitness plan, going through these steps takes time and effort on your part. But the results are absolutely worth it. We worked with one global hospitality company to integrate telepresence into its business. As well as producing tangible improvements in the employee experience, it estimated savings of $3.5 million over five years because of the project.

So next time you’re planning a collaboration rollout, don’t just think about the technology, or even the workflows and processes. Do a bit of change management for the people, too. It’s the only way you’ll get your workforce fit for the future of collaboration.

Find out more about our solutions for collaboration.

Want to get the most out of your new Spark Board? Check out our packaged service, All Aboard.


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