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Videoconferencing, Telepresence, and Visual Collaboration Adoption - How Do You Measure and Guarantee Success

September 11, 2013 | Telepresence Options

stephanie carhee

An Interview with Collaboration Adoption Expert Stephanie Carhee

Many companies spend millions on a videoconferencing or telepresence implementation and see only marginal success. Why? Because they failed to address adoption, says Stephanie Carhee, who heads the End User Adoption and Training Practice at Human Productivity Lab, a visual collaboration consultancy. �We interviewed Carhee--an expert on adoption and implementation--to learn more about this crucial step for any successful videoconferencing or visual collaboration program.�

TPO: Why is adoption so important?

SC: Companies have thought long and hard to make the investment in a visual collaboration solution. The promise is that it will transform the way employees communicate and collaborate forever. Unfortunately, less than 40 percent of most enterprise companies realize the ROI from a technology investment and typically the lack of strategy before deployment. In today's economic reality, technology plays a pivotal role in how companies compete, improve workforce productivity and impact the cost of producing capital goods. An adoption strategy can make the difference in how quickly they leverage new technologies to ensure that their workforces remain competitive. In other words, an adoption strategy should be intrinsically linked to performance, profitability and the speed of realized business outcomes.

TPO:�What kind of impact on usage and ROI can be expected from an�adoption program?

SC:�Adoption is realized when the entire company has achieved the change it desires. I have seen companies achieve as high as 400 percent utilization improvement and accept as low as 30 percent utilization when introducing a new technology. Each change relies to some extent on adoption and usage. It's best calculated when the company can measure the expected benefit of the technology project versus the cost if no employees adopted or used the new system. Understanding these variables are critical because the more dependent a project's benefits are on adoption and usage, the larger contribution an adoption program can make on ROI.

TPO:�Why doesn't adoption of these technologies happen on its own?

SC:�A new technology like visual collaboration is riskier than most software rollout projects because the usage is based on the cultural habits, process models, and the geographic dispersement of the impacted employees. It is reasonable to assume that a small percentage of features can be consumed without much effort. However, without the necessary change in behavior, process re-engineering to define improved work models and a management-sponsored collaborative strategy, it is almost impossible for companies to achieve the desired adoption and usage rates that outweigh the initial cost of the new system.

TPO:�Who should own technology adoption? The manufacturer, the customer or both?

SC:�The book Consumption Economics states that the biggest challenge with the consumption of technology is the lack of ownership in who should ultimately be responsible for the process and strategy that drives technology change. The technology manufacturer gives the responsibility to the customer and the customer doesn't understand the technology well enough to understand how best to leverage the technology�--so who loses the most? In my opinion, they both do. With millions of software features remaining unused and software licenses going unrenewed, the risk is too high to continue with the widening consumption gap. In order for technology to be most effective, we need intuitive product usability with clearly defined use cases, an architecture that is agile enough to grow with you, the integration of business processes, end-user training that is outcome-based (not feature-based), and an understanding of how teams work. These are the key steps to communicating the value of the technology.

TPO:��If You Didn't Put Together an Adoption Program When You Got Started is it Too Late Now?

SC:�Absolutely Not! Companies can and should always reevaluate their capabilities, usage, consumption models, and on-going strategy with respect to their visual collaboration program.� Tweaks include:� Creating an inter-company strategy to connect with partners, vendors, and clients to reduce the shared cost of the relationship and improve collaboration.� Creating a video call center to connect with consumers over video to create a more effective sales or customer management experience to improve brand loyalty, or a video kiosk program to leverage your subject matter experts into retail locations around the world.�

TPO:�Why is executive ownership and building a high-quality team important?

SC:�Remember, this isn't your project--it's the company's project. Therefore, you need to offer a sense of project ownership to all key parties. In particular, the high-level executives must buy into your vision of how this technology will advance the organization's business goals. With this sponsorship, they'll help drive key messaging, support the project before the entire organization, and ensure its completion. In addition, you must build a team of people from various business units to help direct the vision, obtain buy-in and shepherd the project. A unified communications transformation cannot be solely an IT project or be driven principally from the IT department. Get the professional help you need to build and execute the right vision, strategy and desired outcome for your visual collaboration project.

Related:�Deloitte improves their videoconferencing usage by 856% and now connects to over 185 clients per month after building their own Video Network Operation Center (VNOC)

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