It’s every business’s nightmare: spending time, money, and resources deploying a technology that employees just don’t use. And though the past is riddled with such examples—internal wikis and social networks, for example—video conferencing tools don’t need to be another member in the application graveyard.
In fact, today’s video conferencing marketing is booming: Experts predict it could grow to $4 billion this year, up from just $367 million in 2009. And it’s no surprise, given today’s dispersed workforce: Eighty-seven percent work on distributed teams, either domestically or internationally, and half of the U.S. workforce holds jobs compatible with telecommuting, according to research.
As more businesses continue to adopt video conferencing tools, making sure you have the appropriate processes, people, and culture in place is essential in driving and supporting continuous adoption. BlueJeans’ own Vicki Ellis, director of partner deployment and adoption, discusses where many businesses go wrong with adoption, and offers ways to ensure you get it right every step of the way.
1. Your corporate culture doesn’t support video conferencing. How do you know your workplace is ripe for video conferencing success? The first indication is a collaborative environment—or at the very least, the desire to become more collaborative, Ellis says. Otherwise, adoption efforts will fail: Consider it a red flag if your company is siloed and there’s no sign to change that. After all, video conferencing is most beneficial to organizations whose workforce is located in different geographies, has a desire to connect better, and wants to help their culture grow.
2. You don’t have buy-in beyond IT. To successfully deploy a video conferencing solution, you need buy-in from engaged executives and senior-level management, not just from the IT department, Ellis says. If executives embrace and support video conferencing, others across the organization will, too. “Employees learn by example,” Ellis says. “If you don’t have buy-in from the top, it will never work.”
3. Your infrastructure can’t support it. If your network or WiFi can’t support a video conferencing tool, it’s bound to fail, Ellis says. Insufficient infrastructure will produce choppy audio and video, resulting in frustrated users and sinking adoption. BlueJeans has an assessment process to ensure your network is ready.
4. You don’t pilot the program. Before a company-wide launch, test the tool with small groups. Ellis suggests piloting it both with a team that’s technologically savvy and understands the tool’s benefits, and one that’s not as technologically advanced. This lets you cross-compare where your preplanning and processes have succeeded, and where they need to be tweaked before deploying it on a bigger scale.
5. You don’t have sponsorship or evangelists. Beyond attaining buy-in from executives before you deploy a tool, it’s essential to assign the project a sponsor whose role is to hype it while preparing it for primetime. “You need someone to go out of their way to talk about it, not just with senior leadership, but at the director-level and manager-level, too,” Ellis says.
Internal evangelists often arise from pilot programs. These are people within the organization who share with their peers their excitement and support for the tool. “Sometimes you’re more likely to trust your coworkers to try something new when they advocate for it,” she says.
6. You don’t advertise it. Key to driving adoption is the buildup before it launches, Ellis says. This is a job for marketing: Develop materials and communications that promote the upcoming new tool, detailing what it is, why it’s launching, how it will save employees time, and when to expect it, she says.
7. You don’t communicate its launch. When the tool is ready for primetime, don’t launch it quietly, Ellis says. Send an internal memo to employees that explains why it’s exciting, where they can get help, how to use it, and the company’s goals.
8. You disregard metrics. The tool has launched, but the work isn’t over. Keep a close eye on the tool’s metrics: Monitor how many people have enrolled, and how many have enrolled and held their first meeting. “You might have 3,000 people who signed up, but that’s not an indication of success if they haven’t actually used the tool,” Ellis says. This is a good gauge for how well adoption is progressing.
9. You ignore laggards. You might find that certain teams or demographics of users aren’t adopting the tool at the same pace as others. The wrong move is to leave them alone; instead, tailor a benefit statement specifically to them that highlights the successes their peers have had to encourage their adoption, Ellis says.
“There will always be people who are resistant to change, but the key is to make them understand why this tool is beneficial to them and their everyday life,” she says. “Share examples of how their peers have come to terms on a contract faster, or saved time and collaborated better. Otherwise, they’ll resist and wait for it to fail so they can go back to their way of doing things.”
10. You neglect it after launch. New tools shouldn’t be out of sight, out of mind. Just as important as the attention to you pay to it before and during its launch is your regard for the tool after its launch. This might include holding continual training sessions for employees, lunch-and-learns to answer questions and spotlight new features, and contests to encourage adoption.
“Showcase victories like, ‘Your peer just saved three weeks of time by conducting project meetings using video,’ and hold contests for employees who use the tool the most and reward them with a price,” Ellis says. “It’s important for enterprises to continuously make this part of their culture in order to support adoption.”