This article originally appeared on InformationWeek.
You can’t deploy technology and hope people use it. Adoption requires dedicated effort behind it. Time to unleash your technology cheerleaders.
Enterprises today have an abundance of technologies at their fingertips. Platform proliferation gives companies access to more features and functionalities than ever before, but it’s also changing how some organizations deploy new technologies — and not always for the better. Because the barrier to entry is shrinking, businesses increasingly put more emphasis on acquiring solutions and not enough on leveraging their investments for the best long-term return.
To improve their ROI, I would encourage IT leaders in organizations to develop good self-awareness around their technology posture. That means taking stock of existing solutions and optimizing them to benefit the business — your users as well as your bottom line. But a solid understanding of your technology portfolio is just the first step. Unless your company makes a concerted effort to drive user adoption of those tools, you may not ever reap the maximum value from your investments.
Think about what could be pushing users away from adopting new technologies. For example, have you deployed more collaboration solutions than your use cases require? Options are good, until each business unit adopts a different platform. Then you discover the functional silos you wanted to eliminate have simply moved to the technology realm and your teams are no better off.
Or maybe you inadvertently push an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to technology. It’s the notion that collaboration tools such as video conferencing will replace alternate forms of communication. Few organizations want to, or even should, move away from face-to-face meetings entirely. But those same companies base their user adoption expectations on a wholesale shift toward tech-based collaboration. If technology limits users’ choices, then you’ve created more challenges in the battle to drive adoption.
Choosing between cake and pie?
With the holidays upon us, a food analogy seems apt. Think of offering your guests cake or pie after they’ve stuffed themselves with dinner.
Cake or pie? That’s not my kind of universe. Cake isn’t a substitute for pie, and the reverse is also true. My answer to the dessert dilemma is usually, “Both.”
And it’s the same with technology adoption. The goals you establish for utilization need to align with the way you do business. What’s best for your company? What’s best for your users? Where can technology play a starring role in improving efficiency and enhancing collaboration, and where should it be a supporting player? Offer users a scenario where “both” is an acceptable answer and watch adoption grow.
Internal technology advocates can address many of the adoption problems we commonly see. These individuals, also called adoption champions, are tasked with getting people to leverage technology for best results and they should be a core component in your company’s strategy. Adoption champions balance expectations with real-world usability, helping to guide people to the platform that meets their needs and reflects the organization’s ambitions. It’s an approach that empowers users to capitalize on technology’s functionality while still giving them the flexibility to do their best work.
The adoption champion strategy begins at the CIO and VP levels. Building on a culture that embraces technology in support of broader goals, your organization’s executive sponsors, divisional and departmental leaders, and members of the IT team should also advocate for efficient, effective, purposeful, and robust utilization of deployed technology offerings.
Technology advocates don’t just provide insight into utilization trends and the factors preventing better adoption rates. They’re also there to help users break inefficient habits. If your employees’ inclination is to get on a plane every time they need to talk with a remote team, that’s what they’re most likely to do. An adoption champion assists users in evaluating their needs to determine which technology fits their use case, rather than continuing to follow easy habits. Advocates also understand the ins and outs of your unified communications and collaboration solutions, and they’ll help users make the best choice from the options available.
You can’t deploy technology and hope people use it. Adoption requires dedicated effort behind it. Champions act as cheerleaders, encouraging users to shift their habits toward more efficient and feature-rich ways of doing things — namely, adopting the technology you’ve paid for and deployed. They can also facilitate configuration fixes or address other issues that hamper the user experience, ensuring adoption remains strong and new investments continue to deliver maximum value even as new features are introduced and business needs evolve.
Jason Viera is Chief Technology Officer for NWN Carousel, a national IT and managed services firm. He is responsible for spearheading and shaping the vision of Carousel’s technology strategy to help innovate and cultivate new opportunities for its more than 6,000 clients. Viera is focused on continuously strengthening Carousel’s range of services and solutions and ensuring client satisfaction. He is the driving force behind the launch of Carousel’s Office of the CTO whose mission is to align the company’s engineering talent with customers to advance their successful business outcomes.