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Is Change as good as a holiday, or as bad as poor user adoption?

When a business brings up the word “change”, it’s often met with tension and resistance. It doesn’t matter what the change is, be it the introduction of new technology, implementing new processes or policies, moving offices, or movements of staff. Change is typically viewed with foreboding.

However, change is a necessary part of progress. It’s a natural component of evolution. In order for a business to grow and remain relevant in today’s world of fast-paced technological advancement and innovation, change is inevitable. So how can an organisation implement change while driving the best possible adoption and achieving minimal disruption to keepboth business and employees happy?

Adoption challenges

Change has become almost a “new normal” and is a common occurrence within most growing organisations. For example, software updates are happening exponentially faster as new iterations are released with increasing frequency. Although these updates generally provide positive outcomes such as better safety or a more user-friendly interface, they are still often viewed by a workforce as a change that needs to be accommodated and learned..

Often, the biggest hurdle to change is change fatigue experienced by employees where they almost zone out at the thought of yet another disruption. The consequence of change fatigue is that people tend to default to a prior mode of working as it is a preference they already know and changing that mindset can be quite a journey.

direct implications of a tough economy is that budgets are tightening and an organisational pressure-tank environment can surface unintentionally with the demands for improved ROI through higher performance and outputs new technology, introduced with the aim of improving efficiency, can also deter efficiency. Users may be unable to cope with the technology, the speed – or suddenness – of implementation, or the stress of being forced to adopt new ways of working.

Underlying causes

Whether the change is due to an executive decision such as a new technology or office move – or something unavoidable like a software update, people still need to learn how to adapt-to-adopt.. Challenges around change can arise out of a number of factors:.

Communication

Full company-wide communication is critical to successful user adoption-from communicating the intent to change, to informing users of the reasons for the change. If a change is sprung on employees without their understanding of knowing why the change is required, what the benefits are, what the direct impact is and the  expectations that shift, ,they will potentially  resent it and likely reject it.

In cases where the change is enforced, users may be overwhelmed by information in a very short space of time and will be entirely unable to adjust or cope. This can happen even when the value of the change is communicated.

Training

Ostensibly a crucial part of the communication process, proper training is essential to successful user-adoption outcomes. Users who are explicitly enlightened about how a new technology or update works, and how to achieve the best results from it, will be more inclined to adopt it. Organisations can lose critical momentum on a path to returns on investment if users are unable to productively leverage new  technology.

Alignment

The strategic business sense for  introducing a new technology needs very clear thought, planning, and articulation. This is the alignment that drives success. Technology needs to align with business goals and meet specific business objectives to be effective.

Alignment is very often not achieved up-front, as technology is sometimes implemented on the basis of its success in another use case which may not fit with an organisation’s own requirements or culture.

When this happens, even if the change has been properly communicated, the excitement and expectations around the new technology will fall flat once its discovered that it doesn’t meet their particular business’s needs or fit in with the existing culture.

An effective user adoption strategy has three main stages:

Enlightenment phase – The change is decided and comprehensively communicated to all stakeholders, in terms that are easily understood. This includes elaboration on why the change is being introduced, , how it will be implemented, and how it will work, the expected benefits and the projected outcomes

Capability phase – Over and above merely training users, the success of the training should be measured across various points. Not only is the capability of users tested, but they are also able to better cope with the change. Understanding begets acceptance, and even appreciation.

Embedding phase – Once training milestones and measurements are completed, users should be constantly re-engaged with to leverage the change more efficiently and consistently  going forward. -Reports and collateral on the success and return on investment of the change help to cement it in the minds of stakeholders.

These phases should be approached in a structure way while embracing agile principles to make sure each phase is complete before moving on to the next. Successful user adoption can only be achieved through continually checking in, updating and communicating with everyone involved.

About Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with around 151 million mobile customers, 30 million fixed-network lines and more than 17 million broadband lines (as of December 31, 2014). The Group provides fixed network, mobile communications, Internet and IPTV products and services for consumers and ICT solutions for business customers and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in more than 50 countries and has approximately 228,000 employees worldwide. The Group generated revenues of EUR 62.7 billion in the 2014 financial year – more than 60 percent of it outside Germany.

About T-Systems

Deutsche Telekom considers the European business customer segment a strategic growth area. Deutsche Telekom offers small, medium-sized and multinational companies ICT solutions for an increasingly complex digital world. In addition to services from the cloud, the range of services is centred around M2M and security solutions, complementary mobile communications and fixed network products, and solutions for virtual collaboration and IT platforms, all of which forms the basis for our customers’ digital business models.

With approximately 47,800 employees worldwide, T-Systems generated revenue of around EUR 8,6 billion in the 2014 financial year.

Since the inception of T-Systems in South Africa in 1997, the company has cemented its position as one of the most successful T-Systems companies outside of Europe. A leading ICT outsourcing service provider locally, T-Systems offers end-to-end ICT solutions in both the ICT Operations and Systems Integration markets. Their extensive portfolio of services covers the vertical, horizontal, IT and TC space. T-Systems South Africa’s head office is located in Midrand with another major office in Cape Town, and 20 further representative offices in locations throughout southern Africa.

About Intervate

Intervate, a T-Systems company in South Africa, is an enabler of digital transformation, delivering digital workplace solutions and customer experiences that drive business value and improve productivity.

We have over 17 years’ experience in delivering innovative solutions that enable digital transformation including Enterprise Mobility, Enterprise Information Management, Customer and Data Insights, Business Process Solutions, Cloud solutions and Enterprise Application Integration. Our technical expertise is supported by an understanding of the strategic drivers and challenges that enable us to provide our customers with professional guidance regarding the best practices proven to deliver successful projects and business benefits.

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