Microsoft’s plan to send O365 educational email direct to end-users

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Photo by Lachlan Donald on Unsplash

If your organisation is using Office 365, you’ll know that there are a lot of choices and changes in the products. Microsoft recently announced a plan to send emails directly to your end-users, educating them on how to use Office 365 products. There was a strong reaction from customers, who didn’t want Microsoft communicating directly with their employees about features and capabilities in Office 365. The email might communicate about a feature set that has been turned off or is on the org’s roadmap later in the year. The language of the email may communicate the wrong vision or direction for the organisation. Some commentary described this initiative as “arrogance for Microsoft to believe that they have the right to communicate directly with people whom Microsoft has no commercial or other relationship.”

 

The plan to send these education emails has been put on hold while Microsoft reviews the feedback from their customers. Office 365 Admins have an option to switch off all ‘End-user communication topics’, using a setting in the Admin portal.

Daniel Glenn and I discussed the Office 365 end-user educational emails on episode 70 of the 365 Message Center Show.

While I agree it was a poorly launched plan, I don’t disagree with the investment in creating education content to be sent to end-users. Organisations find it difficult to keep up with change in the Office 365 platform. Their IT departments want to slow things down so they are prepared to support and communicate the new possibilities. But they don’t have the time and only a few organisations can allocate people to develop communications about ‘what’s new and changing in Office 365.’

Continue to write the emails but provide them as templates with guidance about how to change the messaging.

What organisations need is a starting point for the change communications. It’s clear that Microsoft has invested in a team to write and send educational messaging to end-users about using Office 365. I suggest while Microsoft listens to feedback about this initiative, they should consider meeting organisations half-way.
Continue to write the emails but provide them as templates with guidance about how to change the messaging. This gives a starting point for IT and change communications. An organisation can use the message about a new or existing feature. They could adjust the message to suit the organisation’s Office 365 strategy, and ensure the voice of the message fits their org culture.
That’s the compromise. I think it would be a pity if Microsoft scrapped the initiative when it could be reshaped. The need can still be met, but with more control given to the organisation. I know Adoption and Change Managers would welcome a starting point.

Let your mind wander a little further. Imagine a ‘Change Management’ role and admin center in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Imagine if messaging templates and resources, links to support articles were all curated and communicated within the portal. Now that would go a long way to encouraging usage of Microsoft 365, to empowering IT and the organisation to build a productive culture that supports choice and change.

No one knows more about what is going to be changing and what is possible in Microsoft 365 than Microsoft. They can give us the starting point in educating our people. It’s up to us to discover and fit what we learn into our organisational culture and goals.

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