When you’re bringing new technology to your business, it’s easy to overlook one of the biggest obstacles to a successful implementation—your people.
Amid the excitement of learning how the tool works and its potential for the business, it can be a real blow when the people who are supposed to be using it turn up their noses at it.
Traditionally, this was exclusively a problem for CIOs. But, as a CMO, I’m afraid it is your problem too now. You will find yourself increasingly having to bring new technology into your organisation in order to stay ahead of your competitors and run effective campaigns.
So how can you ensure that the new technology you’ve picked up is a success with the team who will actually be using it? Ultimately, it’s a question of building an effective framework and leveraging the assets you have available to you as best you can.
The Problem Of Technophobia
We know that encouraging people to change their working practices is difficult. Habits stick, and people can be highly resistant to changing them.
Yet, most people do understand the necessity of it. If you go through a little bit of pain now to change your habits, you can enjoy an easier, more efficient, and more productive workflow for years to come. With good communication and a decent implementation strategy, you can usually get everybody on board with the change.
The problem is: when that change is a new technology, all the usual rules are thrown out the window.
Technology has a habit of throwing people into a spin. It can feel perplexing, it can feel threatening, and it is subjected to the greatest—and sometimes the most unfair—scrutiny.
If you give them access to a new piece of software, you’ll find that many people simply refuse to use it. They don’t have time to learn how it works and usually assume the worst—that it’s complicated, unnecessary, and probably broken.
Technophobia is pretty much the default setting for some people. Surprisingly few people get excited about new technology, and no one really likes it being forced on them.
When you’re introducing new technology, you have to address this issue directly. You need to develop a change management programme that overcomes this resistance if you want the benefits technology offers in efficiency and effectiveness. You also have to ensure that your people have the required skills and capabilities necessary to take advantage of the new tech.
Partners And Allies
Big decisions should never be taken without smart analysis and consultation with experts. And bringing on board new technology, especially when it is expensive, can be one of the biggest decisions you make.
There’s also a good chance you will fail. CIOs are only successful at around 40% to 60% of the projects they undertake. If you’re a CMO without the detailed technical expertise that CIOs have, your success rate might be lower.
Working with partners who can bring a fresh perspective, valuable knowledge, and the benefit of their experience is a critical part of the process. These can be external organisations and consultancies, or they can be people within your company who understand technology and the working practices you currently have in place.
Building a network of partners who can advise you and support the implementation process as it unfolds will greatly increase your chances of making this a success.
You should also consider recruiting technology advocates. There are plenty of people within any organisation who aren’t technophobic and who get excited about the prospect of trying a new tool or discovering new ways to be more efficient. Involving them in the process can mean you have more “boots on the ground” when outlining the benefits of the technology to people and explaining how it works. And don’t forget that your CIO can be the most effective partner of all.
By having an effective network of partners and allies, you can collate the expertise needed to create a seamless onboarding process for new technology and considerably raise your chances of success.
Framework And Process
As well as having the right people, you also need to have an effective framework for implementing the technology.
Having a process to follow helps to reduce uncertainty both in your mind and for everyone it affects. It could be as simple as writing a to-do list, or it could be a fully detailed project plan with responsibilities, timings, and KPIs set out in advance.
Regardless of which process works best for you, it is critical to take some time to plan how the process will unfold.
There’s a lot we can learn from management consultancies on this front. Many of the best consultants are very process-oriented, and they know how to effectively manage projects. Of course, we all have experiences with ineffective consultants, but often what they lack is that very honed project management skill.
We have to consistently use processes to ensure that we track and measure progress and performance. And it’s not about whether the end outcome is achieved or if the client is happy—we must measure performance by its own standards, being the best it can be throughout the process.
There is an awful lot that can go wrong when you bring a new technology into your organisation. If it’s not met with open arms by the people it’s intended for, you stand to waste eye-watering amounts of money and time.
As a CMO undertaking this responsibility, making use of the assets you have available to you and building an effective implementation framework will be critical to your success. The people around you could be your biggest obstacle, but, with the right tactics, they can also be your best allies.