High user adoption has become a target. Software vendors are motivated to prove the worth of their wares and show return on investment. But why should your organisation aim for high adoption of integrated productivity tools?

High adoption of a productivity tool means almost, if not everyone is using the same tool. There are benefits to this, but they are limited to the tool and it’s capabilities.

High adoption of an integrated set of productivity tools means almost everyone is communicating, collaborating, storing their information and co-ordinating in the same places. That has a greater impact that just the high adoption of a single productivity tool.

Don’t aim for high adoption across your productivity tools just because you want a good return on investment. Has your organisation identified what that return on investment is?

I’ve put together a list of reasons to aim at high user adoption across applications to get you started. They aren’t in any particular order. Some are obvious, but we can lose sight of the obvious and the simple. I’m sure as a community, we could order them, refine and add to them, and I welcome you to do so.

Information flows more easily between an integrated set of tools.

Don’t underestimate the value of being able to share information easily between tools. It saves time an d helps you to remain in the context of what you’re trying to achieve. The more steps you have to take to get information from Tool A to Tool B and into Tool C, the more opportunities there are for distraction and error. When team members or others in my organisation can share information easily between tools, retrieval is easier.

There are less applications and platforms to search. Search itself is unified, reducing the time it takes to find content.

Searching for content and conversations is one of our most common time-wasters. Trying to recall which tool or platform the conversation was held in is the first step to reducing our search. When we can’t find something using search, we ask someone else for help and start another conversation. Sometimes we get a quick answer, but at the cost of interrupting someone else’s work.

An integrated productivity toolset searches across the places we converse and store content, so we can find what we’re looking for and shift back into the context of the task.

Artificial Intelligence is more effective as it works across a common toolset designed to work with the AI.

Using productivity tools from same toolset means AI uses a wider range of points to make decisions and offer suggestions. APIs, identities, a common Graph result in richer connections between people and information.

Adopting an integrated set of tools is easier because there are often similarities in the user interface and operation.

When menus, choices and features look and operate similarly across a productivity toolset, it’s easier to learn how to use them. This might not be true of every application in the integrated toolset. But something as simple has locating a search box in the same position, or displaying the same sharing dialogue box makes a difference.

Mobile productivity is encouraged due to familiarity when the same files, communication and plans are accessible.

Starting or continuing our work from our phones and tablets is taken for granted. In some platforms it relies on accessing a file sharing app and then choosing to open the document. But integrated productivity tools help you pick up from where you left off, sharing the list of recently accessed files, frequent contacts you communicate with and collaboration spaces you visit.

Recently accessed files and collaboration spaces are available across devices and in browser.

Sharing information with other team members or between teams is familiar using a common experience.

When different teams use different tool sets, it means an individual needs to up-skill in multiple collaboration tools. As those tools change over time, it compounds the effort to maintain the skill using them. This might be simple for some people who are accustomed to change and learning to use new tools – early adopters. But others are less accustomed to change and learning multiple tools. Any similarities between integrated productivity tools will lower the barrier to participation and contributing to teamwork.

When switching between different activities and groups, it’s easier to form team norms because people have familiarity with the same toolset.

Learning a new toolset should not be a barrier to teamwork. It takes time to build up the skills to work in a new environment. When this is layered over getting to know your team, agreeing on communication etiquette and social norms, it delays productive teamwork.

However, using an integrated productivity toolset within an organisation means communication etiquette is similar between teams. Files are stored and shared in a similar way.

Teams can get on with teamwork. Belonging to multiple teams is less strenuous because context switching is less severe.

Additions to the list from the Microsoft Tech Community

The community responds and shared these additions to the list. Thank you 👍

Higher adoption means more frequent and meaningful collaboration. – Christian Buckley | @buckleyplanet

There is an even more fundamental need for high adoption that you did not address: higher adoption means more frequent (and arguably, more meaningful) collaboration, which leads to greater intellectual property output. There is  a “lost opportunity cost” when organizations do not collaborate well. When organizations experience higher adoption rates, it means more people participate in the process, and as a result, output increases. And intuitively we also understand that more diversity of opinion generally improves the quality of that output, as well. I recognize that attribution of IP creation is hard, but companies can get creative, and they can track and measure the ROI of improving collaboration by measuring outcomes (rate of project/product creation and delivery). In my experience, there is a direct correlation between higher rates of collaboration and improved output (volume and quality). Companies just need to take the time to measure it.

As your organisation begins to make user adoption a serious priority, don’t set your goal on high adoption of just one or two productivity tools.

High adoption across an integrated toolset means most of your organisation can focus on teamwork and lower the time it takes to be a productive team.

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