As someone that owns an IT services company, saying “technology won’t save your business” is probably the last thing you’d expect to hear. However, after almost 20 years in the IT world serving businesses from all types of industries, I’ve found that people think that technology is going to be a magic bullet, a quick cure, a game-changer that will catapult the company to the next level. Unfortunately, the Digital Transformation that so many companies are chasing often falls flat. According to Forbes – 70% of all DT initiatives fail. But technology isn’t to blame: the problem is people.
Technology is simply a tool. Tools are only as good as the people using them. In the hands of Michelangelo, a paintbrush can create the Sistine Chapel. In the hands of a 5-year old, it can create a need to repaint the house. When it comes to using any tool, including technology, there are few things that will help ensure that it works: training, tenacity, and trust.
Training is the backbone of adoption. If you haven’t had training on the technology, it’s less likely to succeed. If you expect employees to take the initiative to learn more about the technology on their own, it’s less likely to succeed. If you expect people to understand how to use the technology after one training, it’s less likely to succeed. It takes hearing something 7-10 times before it is truly learned. Initial training can get you only so far; once you’ve got the basics, more questions will pop up and require advanced training. A habit of educating employees throughout the implementation is essential for knowledge retention and continued usage of the technology.
Tenacity is the determination to stick with something no matter what. This is the one that often eludes organizations. We start using a new application, software, or platform and it’s difficult. It doesn’t seem like it’s working the way it should. We get it impatient, we stop using it and we go back to what we were doing before. Tenacity means continuing to use the new technology and driving through the difficulty. It also means pushing further down into the capabilities of the technology to do more than expected. It doesn’t mean you can’t tweak or change – agility is important as you adopt technology to your advantage. But don’t give up without giving the technology a fair shake.
Time is the final piece of the equation. No technology works or changes an organization in the first week, the first month, or sometimes even in the first year. Patience in the process, in the execution, and in the analysis of the outcome is key. When you’ve sunk major costs into a system upgrade, you’re often very committed and can’t back out – you’ll weather the difficulties no matter what. But often with a new piece of equipment, a new app, or new software, it gets abandoned too quickly because the immediate results aren’t there. But if there is a lack of training or tenacity, the technology may not be the issue, but a symptom of the true failure. Give people the time they need for adoption and adjustment before calling it quits.
Technology won’t save your business, but when you’ve trained people properly, encouraged them to stick with it, and given them time to change their behaviors, it can be the catalyst to give you the competitive edge and productivity that you’re looking for to grow your business.