Technology is so entwined with our daily operations we hardly notice we’re interacting with machines anymore. As emerging technology becomes more advanced and increasingly disruptive, businesses must keep up with the breakneck speed of new tools or risk becoming obsolete. Introducing software or devices to the workplace can be a daunting and frustrating experience. Human factors determine the success or failure or a pilot program or roll-out, and these must be considered prior to introduction and implementation.
There are many shiny new tech toys being created every day. Though it may be tempting to adopt something new, it’s important to understand why you’re implementing technology and how you’re going to get your organization on board. Before you launch, answer these 7 questions to choose the right tool at the right time for the right team.
#1. Why this technology?
Emerging technologies promise efficiency and automation to make our lives easier. However, if the tools you provide aren’t relevant to your workforce, your employees are less likely to use them, possibly rejecting them outright. Determine the “why” first before proposing it to your employees. Recognizing the factors that lead to unsuccessful adoption allows you to plan for these eventualities. Remember, everyone needs to buy into the new program, including stakeholders, partners, vendors, and customers. By considering the “why,” you can decide if the technology is the best fit for the organization and those it touches.
#2. Why now?
Timing is a crucial element of the introduction of new technology. If your employees have just gotten accustomed to program or tool, they may not be ready to learn another. Customers may like your current processes and services and become reluctant to change. Determine if there is time to learn, practice, and ask questions. It may take weeks to months for employees to feel comfortable with something they haven’t used before. Can you set that many hours aside without disrupting the day to day? Are there any major milestones or business needs that could interfere with a successful roll-out? Consider how these factors affect your workforce and decide an appropriate time to introduce something new.
#3. We can, but should we?
Many companies have invested money and time into pilot programs that ultimately flop. There are many reasons for unsuccessful implementation. People tend to abandon an irrelevant or unmanageable piece of technology for the comfortable and familiar. Trying something new can solicit personal risks to the user. Most people avoid those negative feelings. If a product or device bring more pain than peace of mind to your employees, you could see a dip in morale or negative customer feedback. Weigh the consequences of introducing technology that doesn’t fit your organization at that time to better determine if it’s right for you.
#4. What does the leadership team need to feel comfortable and confident?
The devices, software, and systems you implement need to be understood by everyone from the top down. Employees will be looking to their supervisors for guidance and the know-how to operate the technology. Without proper training, the lack of proficiency can cause strain within your workforce. Ensure your leadership team has the resources to support the transition. Bring stakeholders into the conversation for a holistic approach to implementation.
#5. What would it take for a long-term worker to change a step that has been part of their workflow for years?
People like what they know and feel threatened by what they don’t. This is especially true when employees believe the technology they’ve been given could render them unnecessary. People often return to legacy tools out of frustration or discomfort. Investigate the culture of your organization and gather feedback from your team to gauge their reactions. Consider how a disruptive technology could create resistance within your organization. If a restructuring is necessary, provide time for people to reskill into different positions. By using the “why” and the “why now,” outline the reasons for the change and how employees play an integral role in it. Treat failures as an opportunity for growth and learning to build trust.
#6. Does your business strategy align with the integration of emerging technology?
Leaders can become so swept up in the excitement of new technology they don’t take steps to include it in their business strategy. Many programs fail because leadership assumes it’ll be an overnight success. Effective pilot programs and technology roll-outs take years to implement. Depending on the complexity of the system or tool, it may need to be introduced in stages or department by department. Your technology impacts not only your workforce but customers, stakeholders, vendors, and partners, so include them in your strategy too.
#7. How can you build transparency into your processes?
Data is the most valuable currency on the planet. With AI and automated systems collecting massive amounts of data, it is important to establish ethical guidelines for who owns, sees, and manages that data. If a customer or vendor loses trust in your business, your reputation can be damaged beyond repair. They are counting on you to take measures to safeguard personal information. Hackers have become more sophisticated and relentless in their pursuit of data, so you must stay informed and proactive in your cybersecurity efforts. This also means investigating and reviewing the relationships you have with vendors to ensure they’re operating at your high standards. Being honest and open about how and why you use data provides transparency and sets you apart from your competitors.
If you are ready to take your company's digital transformation to the next level, we're here to help! We assist with pilot program implementation and review your risk framework to support your initiatives. Contact us to connect today!