The Variable That’s Missing in Your Technological Advances
Dawn absentmindedly tugged at her ear, an old habit from childhood that surfaced when life’s stress was getting to her. She glanced down at the clock in the corner of her computer monitor – 12:48. Working through lunch again. Dawn dropped her elbows to the desk, resting her head in her hands for a brief reprieve.
The company-wide demonstration last week had made the new office platform seem so easy. The presentation had been slick, full of impressive screenshots that promised such ease and an increase in functions and reporting that her department had never had before. But the demonstration had been far from reality. While Dawn certainly didn’t have any say in the selection of the software, she found herself increasingly frustrated with how to smoothly integrate this newly acquired technology into her workday.
In her 15 years at the company, she’d certainly dealt with organization-wide platform and software changes before, but this rollout felt different. She’d even considered writing an email to express her frustration over the promised “revolutionary” software. Yeah, it felt revolutionary all right–slowing down her well-honed process to what felt like 1776.
Sifting through the pile of timelines and Gantt charts she’d been given, outlining the assurances of how easy this software change was supposed to be, she vaguely remembered a promise made during last week’s demonstration. She was pretty sure she remembered someone promising that a client success manager and organizational adoption services were included in the company’s order. But she couldn’t remember who said it or if it was something that she’d read in a solution brochure along the way. Or maybe it was just her own wishful thinking.
Customer Experience: Platitude or Paradigm
Customer Experience used to mean something. In any marketable industry, buzzwords can sometimes take over. In our focused space, the technological universe, we’re no different. You know the words: “best practices”, “client-centric”, “the cloud”, “internet of things”, “disruptive technology”. These words and phrases get gobbled up and become just platitudes rather than the original power to speak truth to the technology and services for which they were created.
The platform adopted by the leadership at Dawn’s company certainly wasn’t created to make anyone’s life harder. And yet, her story is a familiar one. Organizations stumble on the successful implementation of these so-called advances all the time. I’m sure you have your own story of transformational failure. So, what’s missing in the equation?
Consumption + Adoption + X = Successful Customer Experience
Let’s break down our variables. Consumption is a strategy for how both financially and operationally a particular technology is federated throughout an organization’s designed use of it. Adoption is the process of implementing your chosen technological improvement. Most plans for adoption usually take into consideration how quickly the technology can be infused and leveraged within an existing business process and workflow. But these factors alone aren’t enough to secure a successful customer experience.
The choices for consumption of technology today are vastly different from twenty, ten or even just five years ago. Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t go in and directly address a technological issue in human resources. Due to centralized technology spending, in order for businesses to be able to deliver, for instance, additional storage for human resources, the entire business had to be upgraded.
“The choices for consumption of technology today are vastly different from twenty, ten or even just five years ago.”
Back in 2003 a major client of ours needed to increase utilization across their data centers. The way technology was consumed 17 years ago, this client was on track to spend 15- to 20- million dollars in order to bring their infrastructure up to snuff. That doesn’t have to be the reality today. Granularly-consumed technology has offered organizations the ability to advance specific units of their business without preparing for multi-million-dollar technological purchases for the whole organization. Granular technology allows for granular consumption.
The demand for granular technological innovation probably began with a request from large, Fortune 50-type businesses. But through that demand, now medium and even small businesses have the ability to leverage that same level of focused technological innovation.
It is within almost any organization’s power now to pick a single department or even address a specific organizational problem with targeted technological solutions. Over the last twenty years, every single business function can now boast their own specialized software or platform. The previous standard required software to be implemented across an entire organization.
Organizations can now avoid organization-wide innovation and instead tactically attack a specific business challenge or equip a sole department with specialized software designed to solve their unique problems.
But this isn’t the end of the changes in consumption. It wasn’t so long ago that as individual consumers, we purchased music on single CDs, or even specific individual songs through digital downloads. Now we can pay a small monthly fee and have access to the largest music libraries in the world.
More and more organizations are expecting technological consumption to offer a similar model in their workplaces as they have come to expect in their homes: tailored financial options that allow for flexible innovation. And those capabilities exist.
We’re living in a golden age of innovation where we can flexibly finetune these platforms to give organizations a customized feel without investing tens of millions of dollars. Tailoring these technologies to truly align with the needs of the organization as a whole allows IT to return as a service-oriented function, enabling the whole organization.
What about adoption? Adoption should be focused around creating efficiencies within a particular business process or workflow. Understanding these workflows and then leveraging software flexibility to tailor the technology ensures not only a higher acceptance level but also a higher level of satisfaction with this investment. Sadly, users often get stuck using a specific platform or software that doesn’t actually speed up their workflow, or worse, negatively impacts their abilities to efficiently perform their job. Poor job satisfaction can ensue.
Consumption plus adoption might equal an outcome, sure. But we should be striving for a successful customer experience; a place where those involved feel compelled to proactively share with others the positive results and resulting feelings that a particular solution caused in their lives.
When people hate using the platform or software the business has saddled them with, typically there is one common factor found in poorly designed client success and adoption plans. A provider’s lack of care or interest in truly understanding how a technology solution will flexibly align with the job functions of the prospective user is almost always present in these failed endeavors.
Dawn discovered this firsthand. She’d spent years perfecting her firm’s processes and when the new technology was shoehorned into her department without even asking for her input, unsurprisingly, it failed to deliver positive results. Her organization’s adoption process ultimately suffered.
The Missing Variable
In order to ensure a winning experience, a third variable has to be added to the mix. No matter what you call it; customer service, needs analysis, or alignment, what it all boils down to is one simple 7-letter word: empathy.
Empathy allows the ability to really understand how to help enrich the experience of technology. Restoring technological innovations to the productivity enablers they were meant to be and thus bring efficiency and satisfaction to clients, the ultimate adopters demands empathy.
Often, the people that actually use any new software are not involved in the development of new technologies. Unfortunately, this results in a massive misalignment between what operators need to be able to do and what the technology is capable of. That results in a workforce that spends a lot of time NOT getting their job done. What is that costing you? In dollars? In reputation?
Any new technology-based improvement to an organization ought to be held up to the light to ensure alignment. This can be accomplished through interviews of potential users of the product in order to truly understand the needs and expectations of their job before any solution is developed. A successful adoption of technology cannot be achieved without an alignment to the job functions of those who will need to interact with it. Leveraging the flexibility of technology to explicitly align it to a specific job function or operator’s idea of what success would look like is the key to driving efficiency for their role within the business. Additionally, these kind of interviews can glean invaluable opinions from their workforce about their experiences in engaging with technology and IT in general.
When large-scale deployments go wrong, invariably it’s due to an implementation strategy that expects technology to be a one-size-fits-all. We don’t have to consume technology in a cookie-cutter way any longer. In our everyday lives, personalized control, choice, and options are driving incredible user satisfaction across the great digital divide in which we all now live. Why shouldn’t our work lives have the benefit of the same tailoring?
At In The Boat we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of this tailor-made technological revolution and we aren’t satisfied with an incomplete equation. We can help you leverage technology in a way that is customized to deliver value and satisfaction to the end users and the business overall. When we help make an organization become more efficient, more effective, more successful, and enable them to meet the needs of their customers, our mutual goals are achieved. Simply put, we provide technology guidance with discipline and trust.