September 02, 2021

3 min

Adapting Collaboration Solutions to Meet Users’ Needs

Catering to different persona types is challenging but necessary to running an effective environment.

Ozzie Vargas

The concept of user personas — which consider the varying needs, goals and working habits of different types of users — can help organizations guide decisions about the strategy, functionality and design of their collaboration environments. 

To effectively implement and cater to user personas, however, business and IT leaders must overcome some common challenges.

Challenge: Fragmented Collaboration Experience

Often, existing collaboration environments are the result of organic growth and ad hoc decision-making instead of an overarching strategy. As a consequence, many organizations support a number of disparate solutions for calling, messaging, meeting and sharing. This can lead to hiccups that hamper productivity and collaboration rather than promoting it.

Solution: Simplification

To the extent possible (or, at least, the extent practical), organizations should streamline their collaboration environments. Often, this means settling on a smaller number of standalone solutions and then integrating those solutions so they work together seamlessly. If an employee wants to escalate a chat with a colleague in another part of the business to a video meeting, that needs to be easy to do.

Challenge: Different Working Styles

Even if everyone in an organization is using a single collaboration platform (such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams), people are still going to have different needs. Someone working from home is going to use the platform differently from someone in an office. Hybrid workers will have different needs from both groups, as will road warriors.

Solution: Understanding Persona Types

It’s not enough for an organization to merely divide its workforce into different user personas. Business and IT leaders must have a thorough understanding of these persona types and be willing to adapt their collaboration environments as the needs of these personas grow and change. For instance, an employee who works from home full-time might require an additional monitor and a standalone camera in her home office setup. An organization might deploy sound bars to executives’ homes to create a better remote meeting experience. It all comes down to understanding user preferences and communication styles, then addressing those through the collaboration environment as much as possible.

Challenge: Multiple Consumption Models

Some organizations want to rely on the cloud for their IT infrastructure, turning their IT expenses into a predictable, ongoing cost through an operating expense (or OPEX) financing model. Other organizations have reasons for keeping infrastructure on-premises, which generally requires upfront purchases of IT hardware in a capital expense (or CAPEX) model. Still others favor a hybrid approach to infrastructure, with both on-premises and cloud resources.

Solution: Strategic Procurement

There are benefits to both OPEX and CAPEX financing models. Still, these decisions should be strategic and governed by a cost-benefit analysis rather than the result of spur-of-the-moment purchases.

Challenge: Lagging User Adoption

Anyone who has worked in the IT industry for any amount of time knows that the adage “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t always hold true. Sometimes, users are slow to adopt tools that management knows will help them to be more effective. The COVID-19 pandemic did spur the adoption of collaboration tools, since many users had no other option to stay connected with their colleagues. However, some users still fail to make the most of all of the features that collaboration suites have to offer.

Solution: Adoption Services

By working with a trusted partner such as CDW for change management and end-user adoption, organizations can ensure that their collaboration technologies are being used the way they were intended to be.


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