Get tech adoption right and your team will love you

We’ve all had firsthand experience with badly planned and poorly executed tech roll-outs. While new tech is usually intended to improve things for the team, the result can sometimes be the opposite. So how can you increase your chances of a smooth tech adoption - and actually improve the employee experience?

In a world where personalisation is king, employees have come to expect the same seamless digital interactions in the workplace that they’re used to as consumers.

But while customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) have been a focus for the best part of a decade, employee experience has largely been overlooked by organisations - at the cost of winning and retaining talent.

Poor tech adoption = poor user satisfaction

Who hasn’t been told to ‘just start using it’ when a new piece of technology is rolled out in the workplace, without any warning or instruction?

And even though the software can do everything it needs to (or perhaps not, depending on who was consulted about it) the roll-out becomes an epic failure, to the frustration of all involved.

Would you treat your customers in the same way?

You probably don’t need to see the stats to realise that project failure is alarmingly common. Poor tech adoption degrades employee satisfaction - not to mention costing billions of dollars annually.

Aligning people with tech

Consider this: success or failure isn’t about whether your martech project was delivered on time and on budget. Or whether the CRM does what it said it would on the tin. The real measure of success is whether your project delivers the change the original business case promised it would. Do your users do anything differently now than they did before? Are they more productive at managing customers, deals, citizens? Is the program of work delivering the return that was sought?

Herein lies the challenge: Delivering change is more about the human factor than anything else. We humans are a fickle lot - often attempting to justify emotional decisions with logic after they’ve already been made. We’re difficult to please, creatures of habit and yet change our mind arbitrarily - a myriad of contradictions.

So, many technology projects fail, and it’s not because of technology.

When Gartner last asked why technology projects fail, not a single respondent chose ‘technical skills’ as the reason.

Soft skills, like getting buy-in, influencing stakeholders and achieving lasting behavioural change were top of the list.

Clearly, people represent the most significant risk to any technology project.

With such an unpredictably rogue element, it can be challenging to create an environment where the majority of end-users actually adopt the new technology, change their behaviour, and deliver the outcome that was originally sought.

3 steps for project success

1. Human projects not tech projects

Start thinking about your technology projects as ‘human projects’. By changing your language you instantly change the focus of your project, reminding everyone involved of the importance of the human element for success.

2. Focus on communications

You don’t need to work for a ‘change management’ firm to appreciate that communication is at the heart of helping people through change. A simple communications plan is a practical and essential first step on the path to adoption success. It ensures that end users understand the need for your project, how it will affect them and how their lives will be improved, instantly enhancing your chances of project success.

3. Get end-users involved

Finally, plan how you’ll get end-users (employees) involved. For example, you might identify internal ‘change’ champions or super-users who can provide valuable insights to the project scope and design, from its earliest stages - and continue to advocate user adoption during and after the roll-out.

Putting it all together

In summary, consider the following:

  • Project success as it relates to new technology is usually based upon digital adoption: humans doing something differently to what they were doing before.
  • Digital adoption doesn’t have to be hard. It can be planned for and managed, without the stigma or cost often associated with ‘change management’.
  • A practical starting point for making digital adoption a reality is a communications plan. Make sure that all affected users know what’s happening, to who and why. Seek advocates for your change early, involve them in your planning efforts and make their voice heard.

By taking this user-focused mindset, you can help cultivate the environment that’s needed for digital adoption to become a reality. Obviously, this is only a starting point - but you need to start somewhere. If you’re planning a digital adoption project that relies on behavioural change to succeed, don’t leave employee experience to chance.

  • Yes to all of this! Well-written, Adam.  I also find that the communication should continue post-release/post-launch of any project to keep the momentum alive. 

  • Great read, Adam! Thank you for posting. Part of my role is to help customers drive adoption of our products - as I look to build out more programs to help customers I'd love to hear from anyone regarding the adoption challenges they have faced. Feel free to respond here, @ mention me, or message me directly.