When IT leaders find transformative technology, the challenge becomes capturing those benefits through healthy user adoption within the company. Getting employees transitioned and onboarded with new tools is the only way to realize the intended value –  because ROI often depends on an uptick in digital collaboration or productivity.

IT leaders must grow the pace at which new tools are used and build urgency so teams incorporate them into daily workflows. And the first step to gaining timely and rapid adoption is understanding usage.

At Cleanshelf we’ve seen usage insights drive ROI. This was highlighted in a recent client case where IT led the rollout of file sharing and collaboration software Box.com.

Box acts as a cloud-based central content hub. Offering enterprise-grade security and compliance and integrations with over a thousand leading software applications, IT departments in companies across the globe have introduced the tool to support digital workplace evolution. Regularly these teams are moving staff from outdated and insecure, or even personal and unsanctioned “shadow”  tools.

But transitions often stall as IT lacks clarity on license uptake and usage.

Adoption is uneven and usage momentum varies on a department by department basis. Even as IT offers high-quality trainings, tutorials and company wide communications – generating a shift in behavior is a struggle.

Shortly after its $1 billion acquisition, one Cleanshelf client needed to transition from its use of another file-sharing application to something more controlled and compliant per the parent company. Initially, the adoption of Box was high with nearly 90% of employees using the new tool. Usage quickly dropped and hovered around 65%. But by using data from Cleanshelf, IT was able to detect the root of the problem and introduce better education and build a “so what” case; helping employees better experience the benefits and see the challenges the new tool resolved. The client later commented how the ability to track usage by department and see that Sales and Engineering teams were the primary resistors of change, helped planning and messaging.

IT must move from broad outreach company wide and institute specific, targeted touch points to ensure users are following the prescribed plan for usage. To do this, companies can draw on the insights offered by a SaaS optimization tool like Cleanshelf. IT leaders can quickly pull usage data from supported applications like Box, directly or indirectly through Okta and OneLogin.

Building on the recently released cross-department support features, leaders can breakdown usage data by department and build adoption and follow up communication plans in a targeted way. Not only does this allow leadership to apply some direct pressure to slow adopters, but helps surface problems that may be legitimately affecting uptake. Perhaps the new technology doesn’t integrate with a critical department application or there’s permissioning issues causing friction. By engaging these employees or departments individually, IT also builds its reputation as a partner and advocate for business users. Issues that are showing up in pockets may also get solved before they become bigger problems.

In every company there are the progressive few that relish the opportunity to explore a new software and unlock new gains. There are also those who are not naturally tech-savvy and struggle to transition to new tools. There are others who are complacent and reticent to change. So while IT should be aware of these attitude-types, they must also choose tools that offer both functionality and user-friendliness.

Everett M. Rogers, a notable American communication theorist and sociologist, originated the idea of the Law of Diffusion of Innovations. His research offered a bell-curve view on the percentage and pace of different segments of a market and when they will accept a product. Employees inside a company are no different. There will be the innovative early adopters, the majority middle and then the laggards. IT must recognize this reality in introducing new tools in a corporate environment. It must build critical mass and strong network effects to grow a tool’s stickiness.

All this starts with knowing who is using what and when.

This knowledge will help IT identify problems, present plans to gain acceptance and build well-designed approaches to transitioning teams to new toolsets. For IT, knowledge (of usage) is power – and is essential to fully realize the intended ROI of new software project.

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About Cleanshelf

Cleanshelf is the leading enterprise SaaS management platform focused on tracking, controlling, and benchmarking SaaS applications. Their SOC 2-compliant and AI-powered technology helps companies save up to 30% on their SaaS spending by automatically identifying unmanaged contracts, duplicate licenses, and wasted cloud software subscriptions. Based in San Francisco, Cleanshelf provides an enterprise-grade solution to over a hundred clients, including Qumulo, Wodify, and CoStar Group.

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