Skip to main content


Misleading Assumptions with the Business Value of Office 365

Office 365

In my last blog, I explored where Microsoft Office 365 (O365) provides value. In the final blog of this series, I debunk misleading assumptions associated with the business value of O365.

There may also be some potentially misleading assumptions about O365:

O365 is ”just a tool”

The decision to migrate to O365 is typically driven by IT, and most of the research has been conducted by IT. As such, O365 may be lumped together with other IT tools that help get work done and may be disconnected from its potential as a catalyst for digital transformation/agility and/or a mechanism in and of itself for adding business value.

Availability = adoption/usage

The availability of great technology, like O365 applications, means that people will automatically begin using it. This is a bit like the “Field of Dreams” approach to technology – “If you build it, they will come.” However, there is a significant amount of data to suggest that this is rarely, if ever, the case.

For example, survey data by Microsoft and summarized by Binary Tree, shows that about half of respondents were not even aware that O365 services were made available to them (and less than 30% had a firm understanding of how to use them.

Adoption/usage = business value

In some cases, where organizations actually have adoption/usage metrics there is a potentially misleading assumption that high O365 adoption/ usage will automatically demonstrate business value. The discrepancy between usage and business value can be seen in responses to a survey conducted by Gartner. In this survey, O365 applications like Teams and Power BI were reported as in use by approximately 50% of respondents.

However, those applications (Teams and Power BI) did not score very high in terms of perceived value – they received average scores of 5 and 6 (out of 100 allocated points), respectively.

Adoption/usage of O365 creates positive cultural change

There is recognition that digital transformation requires a digitally dexterous workforce and, in some cases, a cultural change that emphasizes organizational agility, collaboration, and processing speed. Given how Microsoft markets O365 and its face value to potentially influence culture, there may be a misleading assumption that O365 will, by itself, create a positive culture change.

The assumption is that using O365 applications that are specifically designed to foster cultural characteristics such as teamwork, collaboration, communication, and openness will automatically move the organization positively along the continuum of those cultural characteristics. True and lasting culture change requires a multifaceted approach to changing culture. It is not likely that any one initiative, especially a technology initiative like O365, will create much in the way of culture change. An organization that has spent decades as being characterized as siloed, hierarchical, reserved, and closed will not make significant strides in changing that culture just by migrating to O365. However, O365 applications would certainly complement most culture change initiatives.

Lack of adoption can be solved by training alone

In some cases, there might be a tendency to assume that a lack of adoption will be remedied, in all or most cases, by providing more training. However, referring again to the research by Binary Tree, while a lack of training is certainly an area of concern, there are five other significant areas (or adoption levers) that are traditionally addressed by a holistic organizational change management program.

Often, the first reaction to address low adoption is to implement costly training campaigns. This action of first resort may likely be the result of not really understanding the causes of low adoption. It is likely that a root cause analysis (RCA) of lack of adoption would likely lead to several categories for low adoption (awareness, competency/lack of training, competing priorities/initiatives, senior management support, and motivation). Each category of causes for low adoption would/should lead to different adoption strategies, one of which would likely be training.

Adoption takes time

Common experience with technology implementations like O365, and reinforced by research and marketing, is that adopting and optimally using the new technology takes time, often years. Again, keen zealots of business value should ask, “Why does adoption take so long?”

In summary, keep in mind that Office 365 provides a robust suite of applications to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity. But unlocking and sustaining the transformative business value of O365 requires users to adopt the applications that support these gains. Proper planning, change management, and implementation will improve adoption and drive the business forward.

To learn more about how Office 365 solutions deliver business value, corrects misleading assumptions between the promise and potential of O365, and offers suggestions on how you can achieve high user adoption levels, you can click here or submit the form below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.