There seems to be an inevitability about change in the modern world. Technology is moving at such a pace that grasping new concepts and possibilities in technology has become easier – even when those very concepts may have seemed like science fiction twenty years ago, while you were flipping through your rolodex for a phone number, drinking instant coffee, listening to U2 on a discman and waiting for your photos to be developed.

And yet there is much about grasping those new technologies that remains unchanged from time past. Whilst we are happy to engage with a new technology on a theoretical level – like self-driving cars, for example – we are often dubious about using them in practice (I’m sure the convenience of taking your hands off the wheel of a self-driving car doing 100km/h on the highway would quickly be negated by the white-knuckled terror that technology really isn’t that advanced… Have you ever tried pairing your phone to a new Bluetooth speaker?!)…

An individual’s appetite for engaging with a new technology is as distinct as their personality. Some people quickly see the value of a new tool, whilst others prefer the systems they already have in place. When it comes to new technology in the workplace, however, we are rarely given the option of deciding when we engage. Overcoming the disparity between workers’ technological appetites is one of the key challenges that tech implementers face in the workplace. It’s one thing to demonstrate a product’s potential to key decision makers in an organisation, but quite another to address the needs and concerns of an end-user.

And this challenge is by no means a new one. Resistance to new technology is well documented. Take these excerpts from an article in the Harvard Business Review:

“An innovation must offer an obvious advantage over whatever it replaces, or potential users will have little incentive to use it.”

It is equally important for users of an innovation to develop “ownership” of the technology.”

The higher the organizational level at which managers define a problem or a need, the greater the probability of successful implementation. At the same time, however, the closer the definition and solution of problems or needs are to end-users, the greater the probability of success.

These statements would be right at home in a discussion about rolling out a new contract management solution (Intelligent Document Format contracts, for example) at just about any organisation in 2018. But when authors Dorothy Leonard-Barton and William Kraus published this article in 1985 (well worth a read, by the way –, they may well have been applied to Microsoft Word (released in 1983).

 The challenge of bringing internal stakeholders on board is a difficult one, as the value that each person or department will derive from a product differs. For this reason, it is critical to engage with the various end-users to discuss their concerns, adapt demonstrations to their specific situations and ensure that they “buy-in” to the concept, rather than having it foisted upon them. After all, the value of the tool is only realised if it is used properly.

We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in discussing a tailored roll-out of IDF for your organisation.

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