How Datto Drove Intranet Adoption and Success With Simpplr in 90 Days

By Hani Khan
Product adoption can be a make-or-break moment in the customer journey. As you may know, product adoption or user adoption in the case of Simpplr’s intranet platform begins at the first moment of use. However, its value is not understood until the customer realizes how its features and functions attain their outcomes and goals. And let’s not forget return on investment (ROI). 

In the case of Datto, first, they wanted an internal communications platform that would be a system of communication throughout the company. Second, they needed a space that allowed each team and department to post integral and unique information to those teams. Overall, Datto wanted to create a centralized source of truth for the entire organization, opening the company up to workplace collaboration.

Depending on the source of data, adoption is seen in numbers and percentages. The higher number of users logging in, and utilizing the platform, achieving milestones and behaviors indicates the adoption of the product is successful. It is rare that you have a company that onboards and has 100% adoption in a short amount of time. There are always stragglers who dig in their heels, refusing to change. There must be something incredible about a company that adopts early. It shows the strength of their planning teams, the messaging of their executives, the unity of employees, and a belief in the product. One such rare example of early and complete intranet adoption in the history of the Simpplr platform is Datto. 

Start at the Top

At Simpplr’s Cohesion conference in 2021, Joseph Duffield, senior CSM at Simpplr, had a roundtable discussion with Jessica Anavim, Datto’s Digital Workplace and Intranet Manager. Datto is a cloud-based software and security provider for managed service providers (MSPs). Their internal communications story began in December 2018. CEO Tim Weller approached leaders within the data organization with a directive to begin an intranet evaluation process to establish a core team.  

It is vital to start with the initiative with a CEO who’s excited to work on it. Jessica noted that not every CEO will be excited to focus on internal comms. “We were just really fortunate that he was the one who was really spearheading the project.” She is right. Usually, internal comms is not a front-of-mind subject for CEOs unless that individual values and understands how communication can create efficiencies, improve collaboration, and increase productivity.

Jessica revealed that what drove the adoption in 90 days was a strong sponsorship from the executive ranks, especially their CEO and others in the C-suite. They showed an active interest in implementing a successful internal communications platform by checking on the progress of the core team they organized and promoting the platform to employees post-launch. However, it was the cross-functional core team that contributed significantly to the overall success. 

Building a Cross-functional Core Team

The core team was composed of individuals from major departments across the organization. It included communication, engineering, human resources, information technology, marketing, operations, and sales. This type of collaboration allowed Datto to ensure they were getting the perspectives and evaluation needed from all employee groups.

When it came to the various departmental teams, the core team asked what was necessary from a “need” perspective. In February 2020, they developed a survey that was distributed to every single employee at Datto. They solicited feedback regarding internal communication processes and how information and messaging were managed in their daily lives. But the collaboration was not limited to the requisition for information. Datto’s core team waited for all of the other groups to work collaboratively and exchanged ideas throughout the process before they progressed with choosing a platform.

It is important to note that the responsibility of internal communications cannot be a siloed effort and only the core team’s commitment. Every team from every part of the organization must give feedback on vital to their communication success. Only an engineering team will understand the intricacies of working on an engineering team. The same holds true for Marketing and Sales.  From a comms perspective, Datto’s core team waited for all of the teams to respond appropriately. With that precise knowledge, they could go forward with a plan of action to choose a platform, which was Simpplr, in October of 2019.

Letting the Data Do its Job

Convincing an executive board to spend on any platform must be accompanied by plenty of justification and proof. Jessica highly suggested that you come to your leadership team prepared with good data, metrics, and information. That’s what they want and need to see to justify spending on an internal comms software system. “They want to see how [internal comms] is going to make people more productive. They want to see how it’s going to help your resources do their jobs.”

There are many reports and research that support the use and update of a modern internal communication system. One such report that Jessica and Simpplr would recommend is Gallagher’s 2021 State of the Sector, which is all about internal communication. The critical point to note is before you make choices on your internal comms platform, do your research and understand the needs of your employees.

Launch and Adoption in 90 Days

The implementation process began in March 2020, two days before remote work started for the company due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Once again, the success of the implementation was primarily due to cross-collaboration with a well-performing team. Each core team member co-opted culture carriers and decision-makers once Simpplr was chosen as their intern comms platform. Leading up to launch,114 employees from 19 different departments at Datto built 47 different micro-sites in the platform that they aptly call Datto Sphere, which is their intranet today. Necessary information was migrated over from the old intranet platform quickly and efficiently. 

The day Datto launched, they were so excited about the new internet. They believed it would make them so much more efficient. One feature Jessica shared that drew a significant amount of attention was their News Feed. This feature had the look and experience of Facebook. It kept employees engaged with its familiarity.

A few months later, in June of 2020, Datto hit a major milestone of achieving a 100% employee adoption on the platform. People were entering the platform and interacting with the technology. They searched about 7000 times a month, with 91% of Datto employees logging in at least once monthly. 

For context, their metrics are in double-digit percentage points greater than benchmarks of similar size and industry companies that are also using the Simpplr platform. 

Data, Ownership, Responsibilities, and Governance

One of the most challenging processes in any growing organization is knowing where your internal communications should lie and their responsibilities. It becomes a more significant challenge when you realize that the company becomes stagnant and siloed without a cohesive communication plan and personnel to run the play. It is something Datto recognized that happened to them. When they chose to change platforms, one of the hurdles to overcome was this issue.

With an impressive intranet adoption under their belt, Simpplr wanted them to share how they made a smooth transition in a short amount of time, especially when it comes to their data, ownership, responsibilities, and governance. Jessica admitted that content governance was like the “wild, wild, west” on the previous platform, with many people creating multiple documents. Ownerships and roles were all over the place, and nobody knew who managed it.  This unregulated process is not surprising. A live poll taken at the beginning of the roundtable discussion revealed that 7% of all respondents had no one managing their company intranet.

For Datto, they formulated a governance document upfront when they first created the intranet platform pre-launch. Jessica believes this was important for Datto. First, it helped them solidify what the purpose of the internet was. Second, it helped them ensure that everybody followed the rules. Benchmarks and standards were determined, and then they compared all content against them.

One thing to point out is that Datto produces over 232 pieces of content a month. That is incredible. The collaboration of the core team is now extended to employees who follow the instituted rules of content. This brings the picture full circle. A group of two, five, or 10 could not have this amount of output. But a company working together according to the roles set forth and not crossing set boundaries can. The relevancy in personalization and messaging of the content is also on par with the audience they’re trying to reach.

Jessica explained that Datto let their culture come through by posting their gifts and trying new things on the platform. “Now it’s really just a collaboration tool,” Jessica shared. “People use it for the right purpose. They are efficient. We have sections within the internet that are dedicated to company culture, events, and fun things that we do.” This shows how Simpplr can enhance the employee experience by having them “let go a little bit.” What a change is coming from a very conservative industry that was very tight with governance. Coming into tech where things were a little bit more transparent and a little bit more levity. Culture and experience while staying within standards? That is a true collaboration.

Where are They Now?

Now they are seeing time and time again that their intranet platform is effective. Datto attributes it because of its collaborative team at the beginning of the process, and it works for their entire organization because the process was correct. They are producing something they are very proud of, surpassing all expectations.

They continue to maintain the engagement and experience for their employees. The data is reflective of that. Nearly two years post-launch amidst a remote working environment brought forth by the COVID-19 global pandemic, their employees consistently engaging with Simpplr. Jessica says that the anecdotal evidence is nice, but the data is evidence that the process and the chosen platform of Simpplr works. Congratulations to Datto!

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