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Breaking down the barriers of digital change

(Image credit: Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock)

In the last few years alone, we’ve seen technology evolve and massively reshape how we live and work. Automation is no longer just something that operates behind the scenes, it’s now a part of every-day processes in workplaces and homes across the globe. 

We want digital adoption to be rapid and there’s an expectation that technologies should be intuitive and easy for people to quickly get to grips with. But this isn’t always the case, especially when you delve into technology implemented as part of a digital change project.

Although organisations across the globe are investing in the some of the most cutting-edge solutions out there, reports still suggest that 70 per cent of digital transformation projects fail. But why is this, and what can be done to ensure these organisations are reaping the benefits of their investments?

A tale of misconceptions

Digital adoption failure is often down to a combination of factors, including common misconceptions around the technologies implemented and what true digital adoption looks like.

From assuming that users will just adopt technology by osmosis, to success being marked simply by the number of users logging in – there are a number of misconceptions around how organisations can achieve true digital change.

Technology is intuitive enough

As touched upon earlier, there is a common misconception that technology is inherently intuitive, and users will adopt it quickly and easily.

While a task may seem simple, it doesn’t always guarantee that a user is going to carry it out. Digital change needs to be communicated effectively throughout the process, so the user understands the purpose and benefits of the new piece of software.

Users want to be productive and don’t want to be held by back new processes that they’re not invested in. This is often one of the biggest traps organisations fall into – they invest millions into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, but don’t realise the groundwork that needs to be laid for users to really engage with the new software.

Measuring system usage as an indicator of adoption

While measuring usage of a software can tell you how many people are engaging with a technology, it doesn’t tell you how they are interacting with it.

True adoption is about far more than just log-in figures. It involves regularly assessing what is working, or isn’t working at all stages of implementation, as well as post go-live beyond the first six or 12 months of implementation.

With updates to the user interface likely to happen throughout the cloud software lifecycle, it’s important for organisations to measure ongoing adoption and how users react to these changes. Businesses also need to consider natural changes in processes, and how technology fits into this, as well as what new employees need to understand about the chosen software solution.

Change budget doesn’t matter

Now more than ever, organisations will be dissecting every outgoing cost and assessing what is and isn’t needed.

Digital change projects will no doubt come under scrutiny, with different facets like training or support cut under the assumption that technology is intuitive enough, as highlighted earlier.

But one wrong decision here can have a massive impact later down the line – whether it’s cutting the change management budget or level of training.

While many organisations will believe that the decision to implement a new platform should be enough and the rest will just happen, change management and training is key to driving high-quality adoption. It’s this attitude to adoption which separates businesses who achieve maximum value from their investments and those who don’t.

‘How to’ training will do

Businesses can be forgiven for thinking that ‘how to’ training for a new solution is a surefire way of achieving business-wide adoption. However, this doesn’t allow users to grasp a full picture of the technology. They also need to understand why it’s being used and the benefits they will get out of using it.

When employees don’t understand these fundamental factors, businesses will find themselves in a position later down the line where users aren’t engaged and adoption rates are low. No organisation wants to deal with this after investing thousands into a new piece of software, so it’s important to look beyond traditional ‘how to’ training.

Empowering users at all stages of adoption gives them the tools to work through processes they may be struggling with, or have forgotten how to use over time. This not only means that employees can complete their tasks with ease the next time they return to it, but can also lead to a reduction in IT support tickets raised as users are more likely to complete their tasks successfully and independently.

The six steps to true digital adoption

The best way to avoid falling into the trap of these common misconceptions is to understand and utilise the six pillars that underpin true digital adoption. These are strategy, culture, behaviour, processes, skills and technology.

Strategy, process and technology will be a given for any organisation on a digital transformation journey, but what tends to be overlooked is the importance of culture, behaviour and skills.

When used in tandem, these key pillars often mean the difference between a successful, highly-adopted technology, and a failed digital transformation project that has cost a company millions of dollars to implement, and millions more to rectify.

Measuring success against KPIs is a crucial part of this. Considering the investment that goes into digital transformation, why wouldn’t you want to effectively measure progress? A recent article published in CIO explores the benefits of having digital KPIs, and how insight into specific processes and potential pain points allows quick response and resolution if something isn’t working.

It’s a journey

Digital transformation is a journey, not a race or a tick box exercise. It’s about ongoing engagement, identifying issues and resolving them to ensure users are getting the most of out the technology, thus enabling long-term change.

When organisations get it right, not only can it help them to reduce SaaS costs, but also maximise the value of their technology investments in the long-run.

Andrew Barlow, co-founder and Vice President, Advocacy & Innovation, AppLearn