New Tech Is Fine, But People Don’t Like Change

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Old habits die hard, so don’t fight them. Instead give your staff tools they will actually use, says David Lavenda of

Back in the 60s the only technology on an employee’s desk, if they were lucky enough to have any at all, was a telephone. Things have changed dramatically since then, and today we are surrounded by an array of technology that we use for work – from PCs, mobile phones, laptops and tablets to a hodgepodge of collaboration and social tools – all designed to make us productive in the office and, now also, on-the-go.

Given such a rich tapestry of tools, why does Forrester Research report across-the-board underutilisation of collaboration and social tools, with 64 percent of surveyed businesses receiving few benefits, if any, from their investments?

The technology adoption gap

Human nature is arguably the main factor that inhibits the adoption of new technology – people don’t like change. The reality is, when presented with an alternative way of doing something, we tend to overvalue the way we already do it while undervaluing the new option.

Harvard Business School marketing professor, John Gourville, sums it up as “People irrationally overvalue benefits they currently possess relative to those that they don’t.”  In fact, according to Gourville’s what you have theory, a new product, service or process has to be nine times better than what a user is already using, or is doing, if it is to motivate them enough to change their behaviour or adopt a new product or technology.

Why nine times? Well, his premise is that the people peddling change will overvalue their fantastic new offering by a factor of three. In parallel, users tend to undervalue the benefits of the proposed change by a factor of three.

A second key factor impacting technology adoption is our reliance on an abundance of digital devices and stand-alone applications to get work done. Office workers switch programs some 37 times an hour, according to research reported by the New York Times.  Dealing with too much information, and Alt-tabbing between too many potentially useful-but disjointed tools, is a constant mental locomotion that robs us of our ability to focus, think creatively, and generally take care of the responsibilities we were hired for.  And that costs money.

So when change is called for, it is critically important to recognise common pitfalls and take steps to make sure the right technology solution gets implemented, with as little friction as possible. Here are some questions to consider:

Is all that glitters gold? People are all too often lured into thinking they need something entirely new to solve a problem.  Rather than first looking at what they have and why it isn’t being utilised, they make significant investments in a host of new technologies, creating yet another information silo for users to disregard. Jive is a perfect example. It seems it can do almost anything, with its robust feature set and top notch analytics capabilities, but social business leader Jacob Morgan questions if this is really what organisations need or want. He explains, “Many companies are just trying to hang picture frames and Jive is trying to offer the ability to tear down walls.” In his blog, Morgan postulates that perhaps 20-50 percent of Jive’s features are actually adopted.

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