Sooner or later, every business faces the challenge of new technology adoption. Usually, the “when” factor is determined by the necessity to streamline and accelerate the workflows — or to hold or expand a market position.
While upgrades in a company’s technology firepower can have massive benefits for this company and its employees, adopting new tech isn’t as simple as buying a new phone and turning it on.
Companies integrating new soft- and hardware into their infrastructures need to be aware of the best practices for avoiding the pitfalls of new technology adoption (some of which I covered in my previous post). One of the key ways to do so is by tying the technology to business value.
According to Gartner, 63% of CIOs are struggling to communicate the value of information technologies, as they often focus more on the technicalities rather than the real-life implications of tech investments. However, value is a key differentiator of a successful digital initiative.
Understand Why Value Matters
Integrating new technology just for the sake of it or because it’s what all your competitors are doing is a recipe for wasting money. Some of the most famous examples include the Google+ social network that never quite caught on and the Facebook phone, which may have flopped as a result of the poorly estimated market for this type of device.
Conversely, fashion house Burberry seems to have enjoyed some success by installing AR mirrors in collaboration with global beauty brand Coty; attempts like these can help counteract the online shopping trend and bring value back in-store.
Identify The Steps To Success In Driving Value With New Technology
When a company adopts new technology, it should expect to see improvements in key areas — including sales, staff collaboration, customer satisfaction and overall performance — and rightly so.
However, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You should tie new tech onboarding to specific benchmarks and have concrete goals. This way, you have a higher chance of buy-in from staff, stakeholders and their customers. Conversely, failure to account for appropriateness could lead to additional stress and, ultimately, a waste of invested funds.
So, which steps should businesses take to negate these issues and ensure a high success rate for their technology initiatives?
Think Like A Customer
You are the buyer of your new technology. That’s why it helps to apply the same mentality as your customers so you can identify the value points in the technology you’re looking to adopt.
You generate value when you use technology to solve a particular problem, so defining the actual problem is half the battle. If it sounds too vague, like “everyone moves to the cloud; so should we,” you may want to think again. However, if the reason you’re adopting technology is about improving your cross-departmental knowledge exchange with a cloud-based intranet, you’re getting much closer.
Define Success Metrics
I like to divide success metrics into economic impact, operational impact and cultural impact.
Economic impact is straightforward — yet perhaps the hardest to trace directly to the adoption of a new piece of technology since too many diverse factors play out in the bottom-line figures.
While any technology can be conceptually reduced to automation, from the operational and cultural standpoints, this automation can translate into a range of results: better cross-team collaboration; faster time to market; shorter times to resolution; less paperwork or environmental footprint; safer workplaces; and so on.
In an ideal world, your desirable performance indicators should be the starting point of any initial discussions about potential new technology in your stack. That way you know from the start whether this technology will be able to facilitate these KPIs and at what cost, which will help you make a generic decision about whether or not it’s a worthy investment.
Plan For The Long Haul
Will this technology stay as valuable if your business expands overseas or if you change a business model a bit? If it no longer does, what will it take you to adjust without diminishing the ROI? These are just some of the questions that can guide you in the selection of a truly sustainable technology that won’t drag you down over time.
Initiate A Pilot Program
Setting up a small experimental group before rolling out new technology at full scale can help you evaluate how effective it is in practice without wasting additional resources if the plan is a bust. In a controlled environment, you can monitor any deviations from the expected metrics, evaluate the impact of the new system, and prevent costly mistakes further down the line.
By breaking down the implementation process into smaller stages, you can uncover precisely how technology is unfolding in your business. These stages should be easy to measure and observe — don’t let everything land on your team at once. This allows you to monitor how well the employees use the new tech and evaluate the impact within the company.
Consider it a purposeful PR campaign; a sudden roll-out of new technology without any communication will almost certainly lead to a poor reception.
For example, for employees, your communication strategy can include seminars, training and newsletters explaining the technology, how it works and the steps of its integration. For your customers, this can be a marketing campaign showing how the new technology will benefit them specifically.
Realize When A Plan Isn’t A Good Plan
According to a McKinsey report, 70% of large and complex change programs don’t reach their stated objectives. The reasons can vary from inefficient stakeholder involvement to a lack of interaction and accountability between departments.
However, this is no reason to shy away from the future. Instead, it’s a signal that you need to take a step back and reevaluate.
Consider seeking outside assistance in identifying where something went wrong within your adoption process with a fresh perspective. This will enable you to reboot your strategy without wasting additional funds or make the difficult decision to halt the process and go back to the drawing board for a new approach.