This is part two in a two-part series. To read the first part, please click here.

You secured the budget, you worked tirelessly to install the collaboration tools and now, crickets from employees. Collaboration itself isn’t new for staff; instead, it’s the wide array of tools that enable businesses to collaborate more effectively, both internally and externally, that can make teams sheepish about diving in head first.

Previous methods of enhancing productively are losing their effectiveness. And employing a Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) tool is an underutilized approach to gain competitive advantage. Collaboration platforms are incredibly helpful in any business environment, but it can be a challenge to change the mindset and habits of employees in adopting and using these tools. In this post, we outline three ways to get your organization on-board and realize the serious benefits of collaborative tools.

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Step 1: Get the C-Suite On-Board
Getting leadership support is critical for every project and especially when it comes to implementing and encouraging change. Collaboration tools—not just social media, but instant messaging like Spark, next generation contact center, and B2B/B2C-enabled video software like WebEx for meetings  —can help reduce operating costs, improve decision making and increase the amount of shared knowledge. IT directors should work diligently to ensure the executive leadership team is using all of the tools available when communicating with their teams, and providing clear guidelines on what communication modality is appropriate in a given situation. By using this trickle down approach, employees will see that using collaboration tools is an encouraged and necessary practice to doing business.

Step 2: Let Them Know What’s in it for Them
Change can be clumsy, but realizing tangible benefits make growing pains more manageable. If the user benefits are crystal clear, employees are more likely to get on-board, so IT directors should create a plan to educate employees about the benefits of various tools. Remind employees that using these tools will improve:
•    Reach: Ability to interact with the right experts or communities, internally and externally
•    Richness: Ability to query large communities, increasing productivity of ideas
•    Openness: Ability to bring people in; eliminate silos; increase/improve remote work
•    Speed: Shortened cycle time to deliver better business process outputs

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Step 3: Train, Train and Train Again
In the interest of cutting costs, a typical mistake is eliminating proactive strategies and resources to ensure successful adoption of collaboration tools. A solid education and training strategy, one that is offered incrementally within the first three months of deployment and thereafter, is crucial for defined opportunism and end user feedback.

To ensure the success of the tools, many major solutions, including Cisco, offer tools for adoption measurement. This approach to solution monitoring and training encourages employee feedback for technical and user experiences.

Collaboration tools offer an infinite amount of benefits to any size organization. As an IT director, it’s important to encourage use of new technologies throughout all parts of the company in order to realize a competitive advantage, better internal relationships and increased productivity.