Studies have shown that the effective usage of new technology is the number one driver for realizing value from IT. In most cases, many hurdles (or humps) must be overcome in order to achieve the goal of full user adoption. Often times these obstacles are obvious but remain unaddressed. Why? Because planning for change is hard — or, we underestimate their potential negative impact — or, there is cultural resistance to change — or, like Igor in Young Frankenstein we are in denial.
Fortunately, much has been written on the topic of technology adoption which one can derive guidance. According to a study published by Darrell L. Butler and Martin Sellbom, Barriers to Adopting Technology, (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0223.pdf) “the rate of adoption usually starts slow and accelerates until about 50% of the community has adopted the technology, the decelerates, eventually approaching zero.” In other words, a bell curve much like the “Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Curve.”
According to Rogers, there are five stages to Innovation [Technology] Adoption.
- Knowledge – that new technology exists,
- Persuasion – information is related to the technology in question,
- Decision – reject or accept based on perceived benefits and the pros and cons involved,
- Implementation – Usefulness is determined at this stage and degree of employment may vary,
- Confirmation – The final decision to continue use, possible further innovation and optimization may occur.
There are numerous hurdles that, if not successfully managed, can inhibit or stop this process at any point along the way. A few of the most common, which project teams should anticipate, may be:
- Lack of leadership support
- Ineffective communication by leadership of vision, goals, and benefits
- Cultural and individual biases against change
- Current people and processes have not been addressed, optimized, or readied for change
- Technology is difficult to use or lacks intuitive design
- Business case is nonexistent or not effectively communicated to stakeholders
- Money – lack of capital, other priorities take precedent
- Inadequate training
- Past experience with failed technology implementations
- Inadequate infrastructure and support organization
- Ineffective project and change management
Given the numerous problematic hurdles that can arise, it is no wonder that user resistance to new innovative technology is a common theme in many organizations. But, as research shows, the number one driver of value realization [from technology] is effective usage. Therefore, we have a conundrum. User adoption is critical to achieving full benefits of new technology, however there are many barriers to user adoption. The business case for devising a formal technology adoption plan and incorporating it into major technology initiatives is clear.
What should the plan look like? What should be included in a formal technology framework? There is no one “right” way or one “right” technology adoption approach. The main idea is to have a framework that includes all of the necessary components. An example of our current plan, Beyond Impact’s three stage Technology Adoption Framework is one example of many that are in current use.
Each stage is composed of numerous tasks and activities that are organized and customized to fit the specifics of any given situation. We won’t detail them, but here are some key considerations at each stage:
Leadership, Vision and Goals -
- Why are we adopting new technology?
- Where are we today?
- Where do we want to go?
- What value do we seek?
- How do we measure success? (KPIs), What is the ROI?
Project Planning – scope, team, roles, timelines?
- How do we manage expectations?
- How will we hold people accountable?
- Where do we want to go?
- How will we get there?
- What benefits will we achieve?
For people and organization:
- What are the new roles?
- How are current roles impacted?
- What is our organizational readiness?
- How do we address cultural barriers?
- What is our training and education plan?
For business processes:
- How are current processes impacted?
- How can we best optimize processes?
- What are our current capabilities?
- What technology capabilities are required?
- What are our technology gaps?
- What is the roadmap for fixing our technology gaps?
- Did we achieve our goals?
- Why or why not?
- How can we use new technology for beneficial innovative solutions never before possible?
When implementing new technology, does your company address technology adoption as a critical success factor? As part of that does you company put the same degree of emphasize on people and processes as it does the technology itself? Do you employ a formal technology adoption methodology or use formal change management methods to improve technology adoption?
If not… why not?
– by Mark Baumbach // Senior Management Consultant @ Beyond Impact LLC –