Overcoming Leadership Barriers to Implementing Technology Adoption Strategies
Your company has done well in recent years, but the strategies and tactics that brought you this far won’t propel you to your next stage of growth. You know that data, arguably the world’s most valuable resource, is key to identifying your next steps and setting up the company to move to the next level. But making the next step in your digital transformation is a big leap. There’s a lot on the line, from budgets, to business risk, to reputational damage. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone.
Digital transformation can seem exciting, but when you get into the practical aspects of technology adoption strategies, things often fall apart. Organizations get held up trying to figure out which teams will be responsible, where the funding will come from, and where to start. As a result, there’s an imbalance in the way that technology is viewed, and how we actually go about implementing it. Despite the benefits of digital transformation, many company leaders don’t see the urgency of making a change.
Behind this reluctance is often fear. Fear of failure, of not having the proper skill set, and plain-old fear of change can hobble the adoption of new technology. To overcome these issues, it’s important to demystify technology adoption. Technology adoption strategies should be part of a broader digital transformation program (which also includes data governance, data management, and change management) since technology alone can’t solve business challenges. By taking a measured approach, digital transformation can become less of a big, imposing, abstract concept, and turn into a tangible plan. Here’s how to overcome leadership barriers to technology adoption.
To Overcome Reluctance to Technology Adoption, Demystify the Process
Technology adoption allows you to accomplish big things, and that can make the process seem big, overwhelming, and scary. But your technology adoption strategies shouldn’t involve a big leap from zero to 100. Instead, think of upgrading technology as a gradual, continual process. While it’s important to keep your end goal in mind, in practice, digital transformation is about progressing along the data maturity curve. To demystify the process, think of it in stages:
1. Start with the Users
Think about how technology adoption will impact and empower users. New data capabilities enable employees to make more informed decisions and eliminate frustrating manual processes. Not only does technology adoption allow employees to perform more effectively, but it also gives your employer’s brand a competitive edge.
2. Select the Right Early Adopters
Instead of thinking of your technology adoption methods as company-wide initiatives, consider starting with a smaller group. This can be composed of individuals from a particular segment or department, or a cross-functional group of individuals from around the organization. Software adoption is less overwhelming when you can test new technologies with users you can rely on to perform a full assessment and provide honest feedback.
3. Mitigate Barriers to Adoption
Consider how to address adoption barriers piece by piece. A lack of resources can be addressed by hiring an external partner to guide your technology adoption strategy. If there is a cultural resistance to change, begin offering employees opportunities to upskill and contribute new ideas. Make them feel comfortable with trying new things, knowing that mistakes and failures may occur. If cost is a barrier, assess ROI beyond the immediate impact. Yes, technology adoption reduces downtime and streamlines IT processes. But it also can help you meet strategic business objectives. Addressing these barriers isn’t necessarily easy, but you don’t have to make it harder with an all-at-once approach.
6 Questions to Ask
To further demystify the adoption of technology, take time to assess your reasons for making change, and to document its potential impacts.
- What is our “Why?” Why are you embarking on technological transformation? What do you want to accomplish?
- What is the value of this change? What outcomes can you expect, and how will they add value to your customers? Your employees? The business as a whole?
- What are our risks? You don’t have to perform a thorough risk assessment at this stage. But it’s important to document, at a high level, which risks you face when adopting new technology.
- What are the costs? Like the risk assessment, evaluating total costs will likely be an iterative process. But start getting a ballpark figure, especially if you plan to work with outside consultants.
- What is our timeline? When do you want to begin? When would you like to hit certain milestones? Keep in mind that the timeline may shift once you start outlining your strategy in earnest.
- How should we approach Change Management? How will you roll out the technology to your workforce? What do they need to know? How will you take feedback from them as they adapt to the new technology?
This evaluation exercise will help make the process of technology adoption less abstract. Whether you decide to lead your own technology adoption program or work with an outside partner, it can serve as a starting point for planning.
What is Technology Adoption, and Why Does It Matter?
Technology adoption refers to the integration of technologies into your business. The goal of technology adoption is to maximize the potential of technology and use it to deliver value. Achieving that goal requires optimizing processes, upskilling the labor force, and a change in culture.
The technology adoption lifecycle can be thought of in five stages:
- Innovators — These companies are willing to experiment with innovative technology to solve critical business challenges.
- Early Adopters — These organizations are quick to adopt technologies that show promise among innovators.
- Early Majority — This group is willing to adopt new things, but only once they’ve been proven to work.
- Late Majority — Tending to be more skeptical about innovative technology, this group is willing to adopt well-established technology.
- Laggards — The laggards aren’t just slow to adopt. They often have no technology adoption strategy at all.
Why Technology Adoption Matters
Organizations that are reluctant or slow to adopt technology miss out on opportunities to gain a competitive edge, improve efficiency, enhance their culture, and mitigate risk. Addressing all of these issues requires insight. Which products are selling best in which regions? Why are employees quitting? Which processes are causing errors downstream? To answer these questions, identify solutions, and implement them, you need to empower employees at all levels with the right data and tools. And that’s why technology adoption strategies and digital transformation are so important.
Preparing to Manage Risk Added by the Adoption of New Tech
There’s no way to completely avoid the risk that comes with technology adoption. It’s important not to be so risk averse that you stifle your organization’s chances to innovate. Instead, focus on managing risk to reduce its impact. For starters, risk management should be a key priority for internal leaders. Understanding how your IT risk management functions fit within the broader structure is important: Who leads the risk management efforts? What resources do they have?
It’s also vital to bring in the right talent. That may mean expanding your IT team or even hiring outside corporate consultants like Kenway. External consultants are vendor agnostic and can help you identify the right technology solutions. They can also help you take a methodical approach to technology adoption that minimizes risk and is right-sized for your organization. Kenway understands the importance of assessing your current state and identifying the risks, operational costs, and processes needed to take your business to an optimal future state.
For example, we worked with a technology services company that was struggling to achieve its business goals when implementing technology projects. The company had technology that could yield powerful results yet its tech stack was ineffective due to poor adoption. Kenway identified that poor change management was the root cause of their issues and introduced a streamlined strategy to improve the success of future technology integrations.
Would you like technology adoption strategies that are right-sized for your business, guided by practical experience and expertise, and delivered with white-glove service? Kenway checks all the right boxes. To learn how, reach out to us today.