SPSTC: Jeff Willinger Asks, ‘What’s in it for Me?’ User Adoption & Employee Engagement Strategies for Enterprise Social Computing Projects

Jeff Willinger presenting on User Adoption at #SPSTCDCFriday morning at SPSTC, Jeff Willinger, armed with a quart of iced coffee, presented a lively session on User Adoption & Employee Engagement Strategies for Enterprise Social Computing Projects (Making SharePoint Sexy).  Jeff began by showing a Katy Perry video, encouraging the audience to dance along.  Explaining his logic in doing so, Jeff said of the video and the attempted associated dance party, "Like social computing, it's sexy, but what [are we going] to do with it?" 

Of successful deployments, Jeff said, "It's got to start with a social intranet.  Two-way communication, that's the bottom line … an open forum."  Touching on some employee engagement myths, Jeff mentioned the following: size matters; I'm too busy; it won't pay off; the business won't care; and should corporate or marketing own this?  "Being super crystal clear on your message" is another key to a deployment which successfully engages users (a la Facebook, as Jeff pointed out, "It works because it's easy to use"). 

Some portal pitfalls and best practices that Jeff discussed included:

  • Don't bite off more than you can chew. Do think big, but start small.
  • Don't customize when you can configure. Do leverage out-of-the-box features whenever possible.
  • Don't underestimate the breadth of SharePoint's capabilities. Do educate yourself on what's possible with the platform.

Discussing the necessity of branding yourself "outside the four walls" of your company's intranet, Jeff touched on Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.  His advice across the board was to "Be in charge of yourself, be the leader, control the conversation."  A LinkedIn tip that Jeff shared, (and encouraged attendees to steal from him, an offer which I fully intend to take him up on) is that you not put your job title in the main portion of your profile (i.e.,what shows up at the top of the profile beneath your name), but instead use that space to list "what you're good at."  Jeff's point was that there's no point in putting your title there, because it's listed below, and that putting that above-the-fold space to better use will help showcase your abilities.  Of Twitter, Jeff said that "TweetDeck changed my life," so if you're a Twitter user and somehow unfamiliar with TweetDeck, check it out. 

Jeff said that in terms of typical SharePoint adoption, there are three buckets of adopters, with a roughly even split between them: those who are never going to adopt the platform, excited adopters, and those who are on the fence.  To assist with adoption, "Figure out what are the most important things to the end users, make them super-intuitive, and roll those out."  "The key to your success is moving the people [who are] on the fence over to excited [adopters]."  Jeff explained that reasons why some enterprise social computing projects miss the mark include: stakeholders don't start with "Why?"; end users don't fully understand "What's in it for me?"; and user experience is not as engaging and intuitive as mainstream social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Regarding the framework for a successful deployment, Jeff advised that you "Deliver accelerated acceptance, adoption, and advocacy."  Answer the questions as to why (in a business context), what (in a human context), and how (in a technology context).  Why?  To accelerate innovation, improve expertise discovery, and enhance knowledge management.  What('s in it for me)?  Communicate how the solution helps users personally achieve success, and communicate usage best practices.  How (do we make it effortless)?  Less is more, design an effective user experience, and enable intuitive features.  How (do we deploy)?  Answer the following questions: What is the ideal pilot?; How do we educate and train end users?; and how do we organically manage our community?

Jeff then showed screenshots of some examples of souped-up / branded My Sites that he's created for clients such as New Balance, Abbott Labs, and more.  Some had Silverlight overlaid, some had third-party providers such as NewsGator's Social Sites on top of them, but all were very cool, and highly intuitive.   Of third-party providers, Jeff said that "I look at SharePoint like an iPhone, with all these apps that you can customize" your sites with.  Jeff then named Bamboo as being among his recommended providers of third-party SharePoint Web Parts ("apps" in Jeff's analogy).  Thanks, Jeff!  Your virtual beer is coming right up.  Big Smile

Wrapping up, Jeff said that the keys to a successful deployment include: "It's got to come from within, from the people who are doing it most";  have road-mapping sessions prior to deployment ("Don't just expect that if you build it, they will come");  and "Encourage teamwork and provide regular feedback."


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