Since the world started to talk about digital transformation and change management, user adoption has been addressed as a “hot topic” for organizations involved in these transformations. Indeed, as Daniel Newman, Forbes writer, points out,
“digital transformation is not only a technological shift, but an organizational change at the intersection of technology, business and people (…) technology in itself does not equate to digital transformation. The customer, culture and employees along with business continuity must be at the heart of every technology investment”
So, if you are embracing the digital transformation in your workplace, do not expect a change only in the technologies used to get your daily work done. There is much more than this. Expect a change on how your organization work, how employees work and collaborate, business process, work dynamics and organizational structure. And a lot of technology. In this context, technology is not the protagonist. It is just a means that enables new possibilities for improving collaboration, productivity and efficiency in a smart way. All these are the main characteristics of the famous workplace digital transformation.
But, if a change of the technology used in the modern workplace is not enough, what should managers worry about to carry on a successful digital transformation journey? CHANGE MANAGEMENT and USER ADOPTION.
We see the horizon: User Adoption
Even though more and more companies around the world are welcoming the digital transformation by investing in new technologies and tools, only a small percentage of those companies is aware of the importance of change management and user adoption. The result? Failure, high costs for technology investments that have no return on investment, wasted opportunities and frustration among employees. In 2017 and 2018 especially, this scenario had been witnessed in 90% of the cases.
But now, slowly, things are changing. Companies that offer change management and user adoption strategies are offering concrete help to companies that decide to go through this big change. Support, expertise and guidance are the concrete help needed. Following a proper strategy that ensures that the new technologies are actually used by employees at all levels is vital.
Moreover, signs from the market are really clear. If a couple of years before you probably never heard of user adoption, now the biggest tech companies, like Microsoft, are raising their voice on this. User adoption is necessary when using Microsoft technologies in the context of a digital transformation. It is not about technical training on which button to press. It’s about how to use new tools to collaborate, to be more productive and to work smarter (Office 365 is the best example with digital tools like Microsoft Teams, Planner, To-Do, OneNote, OneDrive etc). International Microsoft conferences started to reserve more space to talk about user adoption and the voice is rapidly spreading.
While 2018 has been the year dedicated to the expansion of the “user adoption awareness”, we feel like now in 2019, the moment is come to act. We are entering a new era of the digital transformation where the focus is not more on technology, but on “how do we make this work in our organization, now that we have the new technology?” It’s the era of action, it’s the era of user adoption put into practice.
User Adoption Trends for 2019
How does this new era look like? We listed some key points that represent what we consider to be the “hot trends” regarding user adoption and digital transformation for this new year in which we just landed.
1. People are ready
In our experience with customers, we witness that people are just more ready for embracing new ways of working. In particular, we see a development in the social collaboration trends within the organizations and in the various teams. The average of digital literacy improved if compared to the levels of some years ago, thanks to the contribution of more millennials and digital natives in the workforce, able to inspire other employees. Moreover, people are more ready to use new technologies in new ways of working, especially when it comes to sharing knowledge, be more productive and collaborative.
2. Technology never sleeps
Technology never sleeps. Indeed, also for this year, we cannot expect that the pace of technology change will slow down. Instead, technology will change faster and faster. we cannot escape from this. And as a consequence, people are lost (look at the number of apps available in Office 365 for example and then think about all the updates and new feature released periodically). Well, this will be a recurring path in 2019 as well. What we can do, is to find more efficient and innovative ways for people to deal with this.
3. Big tech companies will help user adoption
The trend witnessed at the end of 2018, will continue for this year. Big tech companies, like Microsoft, are becoming more active in sensitizing the market with the importance of user adoption, together with the tooling. This will go to a further step: more user adoption help from Microsoft with materials, guidelines and models that organizations and users can use to orientate in this maze.
4. Less control from IT
In many cases, IT is holding employees back. The IT department is providing new technologies and platforms, but without giving up to maintain control. It’s IT who decides which app users can use and which not, what employees are allowed to do, external access, and much more. As a consequence user adoption is hindered. The thing is that people and users need more flexibility and autonomy to experiment with the new tools. It’s time for the IT department to change the way they work more than their employees need to. IT needs to lose control and lose the fear that IT would become a mess if users are free. We have to help IT people understand the changing role of IT: enable, empower employees with new technologies that can help them achieve more. IT is no more about the technology, infrastructure and control. It’s about becoming trusted consultants for the management, help in decision making for the sake of the business and support employees in working smarter with new tools.
In conclusion, for 2019 you should really focus your attention on:
- Stick to the standards. Less developing, less customization. Don’t spend money and efforts in building customized solutions, but use the platforms just as they are. It’s just easy. Work more on the adoption of those platforms.
- Enable by default (not disabled by default). In the admin settings, we need to have more openness and enable people to use the apps available, without disabling access or permission. IT should not decide for the business and for the company what is available and what is forbidden to use. More freedom in the choices and less controlling attitude by IT is necessary. IT should help the company decide what’s best according to the business goals, not only from an IT perspective.
- Take a business-goal oriented perspective when deciding which tool to use. The vision of why we are using collaboration apps should be a business goals vision, not a mere IT perspective. Software architecture decisions should be based on a business goals vision.
- Take concrete action on user adoption. Invest your budget not only on the technology but also on a structured user adoption strategy. Involve your employees and get the most out of your platform. The digital workspace is yours!
Download the e-book Silverside Adoption Plan to increase the end-user adoption of new software, platform or technology. Our change methodology helps you to make change easier. This template helps you create your personalised adoption plan and take concrete action to conduct a successful user adoption project!