How to do a technology adoption

One of the impacts of the pandemic is an increased emphasis on using technology for many different functions. The most obvious change is the increased use of the many types of web meetings for discussions. Behind the scenes, there is also an increased emphasis on a wide variety of less obvious technologies that can enable people to work from home more effectively.

While the focus on these new uses of technology has increased because of the virus, organizations have been trying to improve productivity through utilization of new technologies for a long time. However, most organizations do a miserable job of technology adoption. Various studies show that approximately 80% of technology adoption programs miss their objectives – time, resources and/or functionality.

Usually they miss on all 3 parameters. Fifteen to twenty percent of these technology adoptions fail completely. Regardless of the degree, misses cost immense amounts of money and productivity gains mostly fall well short of the target.

As the world has gotten more complex and fast paced, effective technology can really make a difference. Technology is going to be a focus of productivity improvements indefinitely.

How can you do an implementation of critical and necessary new technology without failing?

There are ways to make technology adoption successful. We just wrote an e-book on the subject called “2 Big Tips for Technology Adoption.” If you are in the midst of a digital transformation yourself, or turning to technology to support remote users, this eBook is for you.

As we detail in the eBook, you greatly increase your chances of success by going against almost all the conventional wisdoms of technology adoptions, particularly those promoted by vendors and IT department. For example, one of the most prevalent conventional wisdoms is that software should support existing business practices. Organizations respond to this conventional wisdom in two ways:

  • They write their own software
  • They purchase a vendor’s package and customize it

Organizations therefore modify the software, including writing interfaces to legacy systems, to better align with whatever  practices the company has already been using. Unsurprisingly, trying to develop your own software or customizing commercial software turns out is one of the major causes of failure.

The best way to do a technology adoption is use the “off-the-shelf” features of a commercial application even if the application does not support your current business practices exactly. The practices the software offers (assuming you selected wisely) are usually very good, just different.  What this means is that, looking at the big picture, you are better off changing your business practices to fit what the technology can already do, then changing the software to support your business practices.

I know that this violates every business leadership and technology design principle ever developed, but it turns out, this is the harsh reality of how to reliably get to your performance improvements

The e-book explores in depth this mythology and several others and proposes 2 Big Tips supported by numerous small tips in how to do a successful technology adoption. A word of caution though – readers of this e-book have told us three things:

  • This very much aligns with their experience
  • It rocks their world
  • It is controversial

I leave you with a challenge: Think of your beliefs about the role of technology in organizations, particularly new and big systems. Now think about your experience of trying to adopt these technologies. How many times do your mythologies align with your experiences?

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