February 7, 2011
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Simple fact – most business executives don’t believe they are getting the anticipated benefit from their technology investments.
Don’t believe that statement? Ask any IT or non-IT executive, even ask yourself about your own companies technology deployments…
Sure the technology has certainly delivered some benefit, no question….but not what was “promised” or “expected”.
There is only one barrier to outrageously successful adoption: TIME
Most organization and people simply do not plan / invest the time required to build the plan and execute the plan for formal adoption.
In the last few blogs I have focused a lot of discussion on sales and selling. A key theme in these blogs has been around the shifting nature of the skills required to differentiate in the technology sales arena. A few blogs worth a review if you have time include, Why Demand Creation Selling is SO hard, Why no one likes to be “sold” to, Successfully engaging non-IT Business Executives
Today however I’d like to shift gears a bit and talk about adoption.
At the ASPIRE! Group we have developed a framework we call BOLDTM Framework. BOLDTM is both an acronym and a challenge. It stands for Business Outcome Led Delivery, and you need to be “bold” to change your engagement strategy to BOLDTM to drive real differentiation.
Before we jump into adoption, a few questions:
- Do your customers, or do you in your own organization, implement technology that does not get used, or is used sub-optimally ?
- Is there a view that IT buy technology that ends up being a waste of time and money (your customers opinions or your opinions of your own IT group)?
- Do small groups people use new technology more than others ?
- Are collaboration “solutions” deployment projects value measured in terms of revenue contribution, etc, or (as I see in most engagements we are involved in) more IT based metrics such as “on time and on budget” and/or “cost savings”?
I am assuming there were many nods or “yeses” to the above questions.
Unfortunately history shows that many many technology, especially software, investments, don’t deliver the desired outcomes.
Which leads me to adoption.
In our previous blogs we focused on how to get an executive excited and committed to buying technology.
Implementation is the mainstay of Systems Integrators, Vendors, Service Providers and IT organisations. They rock at getting the technology installed on time and on budget
But who owns adoption?
Who is accountable for making sure the technology is used to deliver the anticipated benefit or business outcomes ?
In a study conducted by Sandhill Group and NeoChange they sight that the most important factor in realizing benefit from any software investment is “user adoption” (see diagram below)
The report also goes on to show that buyers are seeking additional support from technology suppliers in driving adoption and usage.
Importantly customers are also willing to pay for that support.
With more and more software based, cloud based, niche, broad, functional or enterprise wide applications, targeted collaboration applications coming on to the market every day customers are no longer technology constrained. There is more than enough technology for them to choose.
So why would they choose yours over someone else’s ?
What does the customer really want ?
They want the investment to help them achieve their desired business outcomes. There is a really acute understanding that this simply will not happen without appropriate user adoption.
We have all at some stage started using new technology. It might be a new phone, or a new online application, Microsoft Excel or other business applications. Do we use every function and feature available to us? Rarely !
We are all so time poor that we spend the majority of our waking hours in “task mode”. With a growing list of things to get done, we focus on the things that need to get done, by doing them in the ways we know how with the tools we know how to use.
In fact most of us barely have the time to even learn the basic features and functions and only “use” the new technology as our tasks require us to. Most new technology slows us down as we have to learn it. So we learn and use only what we “have” to, and miss many of the real benefits that the technology offers.
Adoption is a double edge sword. Take email. It has 100% adoption within just about every organization, in fact maybe even more than 100% with some people having to manage multiple email accounts. Some would argue that in today’s business environment less email would be better. But to the point, without adoption it wouldn’t deliver any benefit. Oh and try taking someone’s email away…
In our engagements with clients it has become apparent that many organisations tend to approach adoption in one of 5 ways. While no way is “right” or “wrong” there is a direct correlation between effort and reward. Like all things in life you get out of it what you put in. The greater the effort and formality with adoption the greater the adoption.
The 5 Adoption approaches (typically used)
What’s interesting is we see companies use methods 1-4 (left to right) but rarely go into 5 on the right. Why? Formal planning is hard, execution of that plan is even harder – it takes lots of time and lots of effort and resources.
Yet 1-4 are usually executed over 12-24 months, and DON’T deliver any meaningful benefit (or expected benefit).
So over the same time scale (as execution of a formal plan) lower value achieved.
“By failing to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
In summary what your customers really want is to achieve their desired business outcomes. They don’t want to buy technology.
They realize however that technology plays a critical role, but only if it is adopted.
Your customers want you to help with adoption and usage. But not at the left hand side of the adoption approach diagram above. They’ve been there done that……They want help on the right hand side, where the most value can be achieved.
How are you addressing this, what is your adoption offering ?
In my next blog I will share with you an idea for a framework to provoke some thought on what a holistic adoption offering should / could look like and the skills required to execute it.