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6 tips on implementing new technologies in your organization

by Endré Jarraux Walls
New technologies like smartphones, tablets, mobile apps and cloud services can bring big productivity and flexibility benefits to your employees. After all, technology is always good, right?

Well, maybe. Sometimes. But not always. Or not the way your company ended up doing it.

For example, you can have the right technology implemented poorly. Or the wrong technology implemented correctly. Or the tech’s correct, but it doesn’t address a business need or problem, or doesn’t match how your employees do things.

To get the most value out of new technologies, you need to understand what your workers want, what your organization needs, and how technology can be an answer to both.

Based off my experience working with organizations across a number of verticals, here are six tips on how to successfully implement new technologies in your organization.

​If people aren't positively motivated, even the best new tools won't be helpful.

Understand how successful change happens

From your perspective, you’re bringing improvement—saving employees time, allowing them to be more flexible, improving productivity, improving sales and profits, etc.

But from employees’ and departments’ point of view, you’re rocking the boat, telling them to change how they’ve always been doing things, give up precious tools, learn and carry around new devices and the like.

That’s why it’s not just the what of change, but also the how.

As my colleague Karen Henry, Principal Consultant for Ricoh USA’s Consulting Services Organizational Agility group points out, “What seems like a small change to you may be a very big change to somebody else… Without a change management program in place, those affected by this change will struggle—impacting productivity, efficiency and staff morale.”

There’s a lot to consider here, but you’re not alone. A recent study from the Project Management Institute1 found that more than 4 of every 5 companies don’t think they’re highly effective at managing change. By understanding where you may have weaknesses and deficiencies, and addressing them long before any sort of change management initiative begins, you’ll be able to prevent many of the issues that can cause such an initiative to fail.

Understand changes in technology and in tech-using culture

Computer and IT technology has been changing dramatically over the past several years (and decades), becoming ubiquitous in personal and professional life.

Tablets and smartphones have become just as necessary as desktop and notebook PCs, particularly for mobile and other away-from-desk, away-from-office employees. Similarly, mobile apps, cloud services, and wireless Internet service makes it possible to work from almost anywhere, anytime.

Related to these changes is “the consumerization of IT.” Most of the devices that mobile employees use today are affordably priced “off-the-shelf” products, readily available to businesses and consumers alike by straightforward point-and-buy online and at brick-and-mortar. As workers are most familiar with these devices, it pays to understand how these changes are affecting employees and how this might impact your choice of an enterprise solution. This means it’s important to find out what programs and apps your workers are using in their day-to-day lives, and identifying whether that solution (or another similar to it) would make sense for the business challenges you face. Generally speaking, the more familiar workers are with the technology you’re looking to implement, the less resistance you’ll encounter.

Do your homework

Like the song says in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, “You gotta know the territory.”

For the target technology solutions, research what’s currently being done—and not done—in your company with mobile and other new technologies. Ask questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. What are competitors, customers, and business partners doing? For example, how are people sharing task lists and project management? Do your competitors have one or more mobile apps for their sales and field support people? Do they offer apps for customers? Is it better than what you offer?

Look for a problem or pain point, such as being unable to print from a mobile device, or if workers are able to easily send/share sensitive data without violating compliance rules. Then, it’s time for more questions:

  • Who is being hurt? Identify employees (and groups) this is a problem for and tailor your solution to their unique needs.
  • How big is the problem? How much money, efficiency, productivity, etc. is in play here? Does it make sense for your organization to implement new technology, or is there a better alternative?
  • What’s the timeframe? Are you under a deadline to get something done, or do you have enough time to adequately test and prepare the right solution?

Frame the solution

To help select a problem that you want to address with technology, size up the requirements for a solution. Here’s a quick checklist to follow:

  • Pick modest initial goals for what parts of a problem you will be solving.
  • Identify speed bumps and obstacles to implementing a solution. For example, are there organizational or cultural or political challenges? Who might be negatively impacted by this change?
  • Identify potential solutions. Look for consumerized—but business-class—off-the-shelf products (which can include cloud and -as-a-service offerings) that require a minimum of IT resources.
  • Consider all your options. For example, if you have limited time or resources, it may make sense to bring in an outside expert with experience who could get started immediately

Presenting a solution

For a technology project to truly succeed, you have to know how you will “sell” it internally. Start by identifying initial places where the solution will be applied, such as a pilot department or group, or for a specific event. A soft launch can help smooth out any problems before the technology is fully implemented. Also, be sure to identify champions—people who will be the visible face of users. These people can be invaluable not only as a marketing tool, but as a teacher and mentor for others.

From there, publicize a target timeframe for the tech rollout, and be transparent about it. If there are setbacks, explain what happened and why. Keep employees engaged and up-to-date on what’s happening. Ultimately, this engagement will help you get to the finish line with your goals for this new technology solution. Because if people aren’t positively motivated, even the best new tools won’t be helpful.

A key to success with new technology is that you pick the right path

Find your right path with help from the experts today.
But your job isn’t done after implementation. Also consider some method of measurement that will show key data like adoption rates or efficiency gains. This is key for maintaining strong executive support of the program—after all, how do you know if the implementation is successful if you don’t take time to measure? 

Build a learning culture

Finally, it’s important to understand how long an implementation cycle can take. Because of the nature of today’s consumer-led technologies, this is often a process that can take more than a year or longer. With how fast change comes, and how quickly technology can move, developing a learning culture is the best way to ensure the full adoption and usage of any deployed technologies. Employees should have the expectation that technology will continuously evolve within the company, and that they can stay on the bleeding edge by being involved in alpha and beta stages, internal focus groups, and implementation teams as departmental SMEs.

A good training platform and partnership with HR is key for this to work, and a recognition program for early adopters who champion new technologies should also be considered. Ultimately, good tech isn’t just about functionality—it’s about presence and adoption by the masses, now and into the future.
Endre Jarraux Walls
Endré Jarraux Walls is Practice Leader for the Ricoh USA, Inc. Enterprise Mobility Solutions Consulting Practice. A winner of the CIO award of excellence in 2013, Walls brings executive perspective to enterprise mobility program development and execution, mobile applications development, information security, cloud operations and program development. He has deep leadership experience in several industries, including healthcare and human services, telecommunications, hospitality, and hosted infrastructure providers.
1 Kelly Kuchinski. "360⁰ Change Management." Project Management Institute Reprinted on Supply & Demand Change Management. June 26, 2015. http://www.sdcexec.com/article/12081109/360-change-management.