Much of the jockeying for position among collaboration software is based on tangible factors like features, price, and viability. But buyers really care about improving their efficiency. It would be great if those were perfectly correlated, but a lot of cultural and behavioral issues get in the way.
One way to isolate those issues is to imagine pulling out a magic Product Manager’s wand and tapping the product website to make it the perfect product: every feature you could want, a great price, lots of other companies using it successfully, a sales force and channel that just can’t miss, and a viable vendor dedicated to the product. Now imaging putting it in front of a worker whose work life would be vastly improve if they’d use it. What are the odds this worker will actually use the product?
At this point rational people from outside the collaboration software space have probably stopped reading this posting since the question seems stupid. Of course a perfect product that meets a deep need served on a silver platter to a “rational worker” that needs it will be adopted 100% of the time.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that in 2019, if a perfect collaboration product is presented to a user who is a perfect fit for it, there’s at best a 50% chance they’ll even try to use it.
At this point anyone involved in trying to get IT to buy or users to use collaboration software is nodding their head. The reason is that we know the history of our market – there have been so many products that have promised to solve this problem over time. And it hasn’t been a slow, steady improvement; there have been fits and starts and dead ends galore. By this point new product fatigue has set in.
Furthermore, we know that while collaboration is a key enabler for the worker’s job, it’s probably not their job itself. And it requires an upfront investment in training (learning, changing processes and behavior), feeding (getting content and data about teams and people into the system), and nagging (spending your relationship capital to convince your teammates to use it since network effects are required to make the new system useful). And as the digital dexterity index showed, only a minority of users are really willing and able to adopt new ways of working.
Add all those factors in and you’re down to about 50% that would use the perfect product. All the more reason to try to make your product as perfect as possible, and to focus a lot of attention on that other 50% – the training, feeding, and nagging – that is needed to truly succeed.
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