The seven employee types that can hasten (and hinder) enterprise cloud adoption

In this guest post, Mollie Luckhurst, global head of Customer Success at cloud-based collaboration firm, Huddle, outlines the seven employee types that could make or break an organisation’s shift off-premise.

Enterprise IT departments are now well aware of the benefits that cloud-based services can bring: quickly deployed, scalable technology, at a lower cost.

As the use of them become ubiquitous both inside and outside the office, success relies heavily on one thing: user adoption. Without it, the promised benefits of cloud become either overshadowed or simply evaporate.

When implementing any new workplace technology, successful cloud adoption depends on understanding the personas of the people and users involved. Eagerness to change and adopt will vary according to individual motivations and concerns.

By failing to understand this – cloud adoption schedules could be undermined, resulting in project overspend, which is why IT departments should familiarise themselves with the seven most common personas they are likely to encounter during a company’s move to the cloud.

The Champion

The first, and most typical persona, IT teams will encounter will be The Champion. Usually an executive-level supporter, the Champion is energetic, enthused and, of course, personally invested in the success of the project. Having suggested the service, Champions will have a strong appreciation of its potential benefits to the business but may struggle with the practicalities of managing cloud adoption.

Given their vested interest in the success of the deployment, Champions need to see progress being made quickly, and will want to be kept informed at every step for feedback purposes. Accordingly, implementation leaders must take care to alert Champions to the achievement of roll-out milestones and the delivery of benefits.

The Passives

While Passives are the least vocal of all personas, they determine whether the move to cloud has been a success or not – simply through their sheer majority. They’ll comply with training and adopt the solution for the purpose it was intended, but it’ll be slow. They are not super-users, nor your internal advocate, and are motivated by wanting to see their team become more effective – which means meeting KPIs and receiving bonuses.

It’s important IT departments recognise the incentives that spur this persona into adoption, and tailor internal communications accordingly. Failing to address the typical objection to internal change – “what’s in it for me?” – can quickly undermine success.

The Enthusiasts

As their names suggests, Enthusiasts are very vocal about their eagerness to adopt new technologies and improve working practices, and can be readily harnessed to relay best practice to multiple other personas with less excitement.
Enthusiasts, however, are often walking a fine line. They will start positively; proactively investigating features, functions and accelerating themselves to super-user status faster than most. But if they discover inadequacies, they can quickly lose confidence. And because they were so vocal about their enthusiasm, this reversal can become very poisonous to the move to cloud.

This trap is best avoided by giving them advance access to the rollout roadmap, or by including them on beta tests of new functions. This acknowledges any faults they may identify, while also making them part of the solution and therefore less likely to openly critique.

The Detractors

This group are resistant to new technologies and are frustratingly vocal about it. Initially a Passive, lack of appropriate management and minor concerns can contribute to turning a Detractor against the entire project.
These concerns may include not being involved in the platform selection, or fears that new, transparent working processes will expose their own inefficiencies.

Detractors need to be tackled positively, and quickly. Their views will be reinforced by a confrontational approach, so it is often best to surround them with Enthusiasts of the same rank or function, who are adapting to the new processes, and enjoying success from doing so.

The Dependents

What they lack in capability, Dependents more than make up for with their eagerness, enthusiasm and positivity towards new technologies. While their dedication to it helps encourage others to adopt, they consume the most time in training, management and helpdesk queries. Yet, while they are high risk, they can also be high reward. Help a Dependent to ‘master’ the technology, and they quickly become Enthusiasts. But, the point where change becomes too hard is when they turn into a Detractor.

The time drain associated with a Dependent is minimised by offering constant reminders and support, tailored training sessions and even 1-to-1 training sessions.

The Laggards

Time-poor employees, who view training as an onerous task and aren’t completely convinced by the need to innovate, could be considered Laggards. They’re not vocal. In fact, they’d rather stay hidden from the IT department so that don’t have to commit to learning how to use the platform. To convince a Laggard otherwise, present evidence of the platform’s necessity – to themselves, the company or the market.

Just as with Detractors, IT teams should surround them with Enthusiasts of similar ranks and roles. But of course, if they are handled poorly, there is a danger they take the very small step to becoming Detractors themselves.

The Sceptics

While happy to go along with training and day-to-day use, Sceptics suffer from a lack of understanding of the tool or a frustration that it negatively impacts their role. They are often also of senior rank and are engrained in existing processes. They are not as vocal or obstructive as Detractors, but still need to be managed carefully as their concerns can quite easily be picked up on by others in their immediate team, given their rank.

To avoid Sceptics coming to the fore, IT teams must ensure the changes to workflows are appropriate and take into consideration every role’s typical processes and need for change. In many cases, this will require that certain roles are given additional permissions, functions and training.

Clearing the cloud adoption confusion

Driving user adoption is not just a simple case of identifying personas and communicating with them appropriately. It’s a delicate balance that – if dealt with poorly – can lead to Laggards and Enthusiasts becoming Detractors, unengaged Passives, or leave Champions becoming frustrated – ultimately jeopardising user adoption on the move to cloud. But get it right, and adapt your deployment plans according to the personas in your business, and you’ll not only accelerate your ROI goals, but also reduce your own time burden.