Why Better Tech is Not Always the Answer

I have a very good friend who is the CTO at a major retailer in South Africa. We met recently to discuss digital transformation and I could sense some frustration, so I asked what was up? He said, “Mike, I’m fed up with people thinking new technology is better and the answer to all their problems”.

He shared an example of a senior member of staff who had stopped using email in favour of Slack. Don’t get me wrong, Slack is great for collaboration on projects and more, but to start using it as a complete email replacement, when your colleagues aren’t, is an accident waiting to happen.

A few months ago I was speaking to the CIO at a large automotive organisation and he gave me a similar example of where the business had pushed for a new warehousing system, only to find, after launch that it didn’t land. All the due diligence and risk assessment had been done. But they forgot one critical element – the people using it!

We live in an instant world, where we want quick fixes and fast solutions. Everything is supposed to be simple and easy, but the reality is that some things are complex and no “simple solution” is going to be your company’s silver bullet. You have to think beyond the tech and its marketing shine and consider the practical implications of making it land. And that requires “People”, “Your People”. And unfortunately just telling them to do something new or to use new technology, doesn’t work.

I can use myself as an example of this. I’m probably my Operations Directors’ biggest pain in the backside. We use a piece of software called ActiveCollab for helping manage projects in our company. It’s great and combined with clearly defined workflows and systems (they are even stuck on the wall) it works a treat. Until it comes to me. I ignore steps and get people to do work without putting it into the system and plead that I don’t have enough time and we need new tech to make it easier.

The reality is the system is as good as any other one we could choose to use and I’m actually the problem. Somewhere in my subconscious, I haven’t bought into the process and software and because of this, I resist. And the worse thing that could happen would be we then spend a fortune on a new system that will also have things I don’t like about it and therefore have a fair chance of me resisting it too.

The solution?

To focus on the adoption process as part of the technology rollout. And I’m not talking about just getting people in a room and training them. It goes beyond that. It’s about heart and minds. It’s about helping your team to understand the “why” behind the technology, so they use it because they buy into its success as opposed to being told to just use it.

*ActiveCollab is a team collaboration and communications platform for simplified and transparent workflows.*

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