Barriers to the Adoption of New Technologies

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User adoption is a situation in which users adopt a new system that works to fill a specific need of the organization.

Easy, right? Actually, it is more complex than that, especially if we are talking about the adoption of new technologies within an organization.

Resistance to change is nothing new. It’s embedded in humans. Change is always scaring since it disrupts our comfort zone.
User adoption strategies within an organization can be crucial to the new system’s success. Without a good strategy, you will not get the seamless transition and positive adoption rate you are hoping for. There will be instead dissatisfaction, frustration, technical problems, and general chaos.

Many factors can affect the rate of adoption, including an innovation’s characteristics, and various economic, sociological, organizational, psychological variables. Understanding the rate of adoption in any given situation requires analyzing factors that may facilitate the adoption, but above all those that may operate as barriers to adoption.

A recent study conducted by the Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana listed the three main barriers to the user adoption of new technologies: unreliability and scepticism; lack of time to learn the new technology; lack of support from the organization.


Unreliability and scepticism


barriers to user adoption-skepticism


New tools are seen at first as unreliable, because they cause problems and issues among new users, like software malfunction and slow access. New users do not know how to use them and at the first problem or incident, they complain about how bad the new tools are, in respect to the older ones. However, even with the most recent tool or software, zero breakdowns are unrealistic. Usual questions and quotes are:  “Is it really worth to change the system?  How will this help my work? Do I really have to do it? Wouldn’t be better to use the tool I am used to?”. These are typical examples of resistance to change and reluctance towards the new tools.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Explain to all employees involved the importance of the new tools and the benefits they will take. Provide additional information, more quality control, but also assistance and support from technicians when breakdowns happen (especially during the first periods after the introduction of the new tools). In this way, employees will have more possibilities to understand the new technology, being more motivated to use it.


Lack of time to learn how to use the new technologies


barriers to user adoption-lack of time


Employees are lacking time to learn. Busy schedules, meetings, overloaded calendars, deadlines, stress. How can employees find time to learn, experiment and start using the new tools? The lacking of time to learn is always a good excuse to avoid putting efforts in the use of a new tool. But this behaviour kills user adoption. Time is not an excuse.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Managers should schedule the right time for employees to learn and be trained, providing workshops, training sessions and support for employees that struggle to use and adopt the new technologies.


Lack of organizational support


barriers to user adoption-organizational support


Employees during the change perceive they are missing support from the organization. They feel alone, without any help and the mission of adopting and using every day the new tools seem impossible. Indeed, if the support is missing or is inadequate, employees won’t be proactive in using the tools, because, at the first difficulty, they do not know what to do and who to ask for help. The same happens if the support they receive is unsatisfactory,  if the responses are too time-consuming and if it takes a long time before problems are fixed. This results in dissatisfaction and reluctance among employees.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Organizations need to overcome the perception that employees do not deserve or need proper support when dealing with new technologies. They must indeed address existing weaknesses and provide the necessary technical support, learning opportunities, training and additional information that can be useful for employees to feel confident about the changes.


In the end, implementing a technological change in an organization is very expensive in terms of high costs of the technology itself and the time required to get accustomed to the new ways of working. Yet, it is necessary to be updated and keep up with the pace of the digital workspace. In this context, when the investment in the technology is done, having a low rate of user adoption is just a waste of money and time.

How can you ensure a return on investment with a low user adoption rate? Overcoming these barriers is the first step to work on user adoption and implement strategies to ensure that all employees use and exploit all the possibilities that the new technologies have to offer.

Learn how to overcome all the barriers to user adoption and implement a successful change management strategy by participating in our PACE experience workshop.

PACEThe PACE methodology is made of four phases: Prepare, Activate, Capitalise, Enhance. Managing the organizational changes in the method of working and in technologies is just easier for managers, consultants and end users. Firstly, be aware of the organizational culture of your company and plan a complete and predictive change management strategy in all the aspects. Secondly, acquire the new collaborative business vision and the technologies necessary to implement the strategy. A user adoption strategy is fundamental at this stage to instill change at every level in the organization. Lastly, optimize the value gained by adjusting the strategy, address key challenges and align with the required business outcomes.


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