The case of Microsoft Office 365
In the case of Office 365 a similar, but still quite different scenario is beginning to appear on the horizon. We have already witnessed the first CIO’s and top IT leaders being fired for not having been able to utilize Office 365 to a successful level.
Office 365 is a quite expensive piece of software that comes in many sizes and at different cost depending on what and how you are planning to use it. Apart from bringing you the classic Office suite products like Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it is now clear to most organizations that Office 365 is a whole lot more than that.
Often CIOs have been building a business case around the Office 365 investment, and especially in large organizations, the license cost and the consulting and training will amount to quite serious amounts. If the CIO fails to deliver on the business case, not being able to deliver the increased productivity or just usage of various parts of Office 365, he could face a major problem. Without a back-up plan or a quick fix at hand we are now seeing the first CIOs being laid off.
Why is Office 365 hard to use cross-organizational?
So why is it so hard to utilize the tools in Office 365 and drive user adoption and productivity? Well, one reason is that there is quite a big gap between what Office 365 is capable of and what an organization’s users are capable of.
Many organizations have been told, and are still telling themselves that Office 365 is a product, that just requires a bit of user-training. That might be true for some user groups, but for the 80% light IT-users in any organization, that will simply not do the trick.
Reality is that Office 365 is a platform of many great applications that for the most part requires “someone to do something” to make them fit to the needs and competences of the workforce. Applications like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint seem to be out of the box, because they have evolved relatively slowly from a time when these applications actually where the only option for communicating or writing electronic stored documents and calculations.
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The current software landscape
Today the software landscape has changed dramatically. If the users are unhappy with a piece of software or it doesn’t fit their needs, they often have multiple options of solving their business need using 3rd party unauthorized solutions, that not only works as shadow IT but are putting the whole organization at risk, by working with sensitive business documents in these solutions. Slack is a great example of a piece of software that grew big by entering the back door of organizations without the initial knowledge of the IT department.
A CIO with whom we recently spoke, and who didn’t want to be quoted to his name, admitted that they, during a scan, had found 2,000+ unauthorized services being used across the company. For more than 8% of these services the users had accepted an EULA that legally gave the service provider ownership of data stored on their servers when using the particular service. This was a 20,000+ employee company with a well-known worldwide consumer brand.
Scenarios like the described are not news to CIOS, and an important reason why they are trying hard to drive user adoption of the selected software. Especially in case of Office 365, the task is way more complex and difficult than with specialist software like bookkeeping software, inventory/ POS software etc. that addresses a well-defined task in a managed process to produce, sell or invoice. Since Office 365 is often supposed to cover “the rest” like the basic need for document management, storing and sharing as well as collaboration and projects, IM etc. across ALL user groups with very different IT skills, motivation and needs.
Choose between different UI’s for different user groups
To address this complex task you will need different added services or UI’s build on Office 365 to different user groups. Providing different user experiences and UI to different user groups will ultimately keep all users on the same infrastructure and make them collaborate on the same content. Sometimes a complex problem just requires a simple solution. The first step however, is to realize that Office 365 is not a one size fits all product, but a large and complex platform. Otherwise, the CIO job will most likely be like fighting windmills or like a Sisyphean task in the best case.