By Lex Boost, Leaseweb USA
Increasing productivity, growing sales, or mine data to make faster, smarter decisions – these are just a few of the reasons that organizations are deploying new technology and tools at a rapid pace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace reached lightning speed, as many companies and entire industries shifted to digital channels and automated processes much more quickly than they thought possible before the crisis.
Whether it was in response to changing customer behavior or to facilitate productivity across a geographically dispersed workforce, the business case for adopting digital technologies during the past year was urgent and clear.
But when companies are not in times of crisis, getting internal stakeholders on board with a technology transformation project can be challenging and slow – especially in non-tech areas, such as finance, human resources, or supply chain.
Internal resistance isn’t due to a lack of skills, funding, or infrastructure. More often, it stems from fear.
A McKinsey survey of over 2,000 global executives found cultural and behavioral challenges to be the most significant self-reported barrier to their digital effectiveness. Cultural obstacles are shown to correlate with negative economic performance.
This is why organizational change management – that is, addressing the human side of change – is part and parcel of any technology transformation. Without it, the risk that a new system or process will be rejected by the people who are impacted by it runs high.
While the approach to change management is different for every organization, those that want to drive better, more effective tech adoption at an enterprise scale can make strides with three principles in mind.
- Normalize technology as an enabler, not a replacement
Even when the business case for a technology program is compelling, don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone will automatically accept it. Many employees fear that the change will render them dispensable and lead to their own job loss.
Make sure business leaders communicate effectively and frequently that the technology is not to replace an individual or team’s position, but to enable employees to focus on higher-level tasks that deliver more value to the company and lead to greater professional fulfillment.
- Integrate technology as a potential solution to recurring business challenges
When addressing a specific departmental or organizational challenge, C-suite teams typically have a standard list of questions they ask during the discussion period. Adding questions to the discussion like “Is this a business or process problem that can be solved via a new technology?” or “Can we do it faster or more accurately with technology?” can widen the aperture and help foster a culture that is comfortable exploring technology-oriented solutions.
- Approach change not as an event, but as a process
Changing people’s attitudes and behaviors takes time and is most likely to occur when it is self-motivated and rooted in positive thinking. Plus, unlike software programs, employees can be unpredictable. For instance, messages about the expected benefits of a technology project may resonate with one group but be ineffective with another.
To be successful, change management programs require a real commitment from both business and IT leadership to plan development, execution, communication, and iteration.
Among the countless lessons learned during the pandemic is that embracing technology isn’t just good, it’s essential for every business. Even as companies reopen their brick-and-mortar doors and employees return to the office, the demand for digitally-enabled interactions and processes will only continue to grow.
Make sure your organization is creating a culture that is ready and able to respond.
About The Author
Lex Boost is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Leaseweb USA. He is responsible for the development and execution of Leaseweb’s core vision and strategy across the United States. With over 20 years’ experience in the digital industry, he has gained leadership experience from a broad range of organizations and cultures, including both B2B and B2C markets, in startups, as well as large corporations.