Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence’s annual survey on fintech, regtech, and the role of compliance in 2021 reported that “the adoption and implementation of technology has taken a huge step forward during the pandemic and sector growth is expected to accelerate in the coming months and years.” Indeed, digital transformation is a strategic priority for many wealth management firms, and like most other industries, the pandemic accelerated this cycle. In previous posts, we’ve explored ways to make technology implementations a success. But what about after the onboarding process has concluded? Now it’s time to maximize the value of your firm’s technology acquisition, whether it’s CRM software or an incentive compensation management solution — which is why the next phase of adoption is paramount. Unfortunately, many firms shift their focus elsewhere, overlooking the vital next stage of adoption.
Understanding Technology Adoption
It’s important to make the distinction between acquisition and adoption. In its most basic sense, technology adoption can be defined as the successful integration of new technology into a business. While acquiring new technology is essential, it’s helpful to view the acquisition as an initial step in the digital transformation journey. A firm may have acquired new technology but has yet to fully absorb it into the organization and use it to its greatest potential. Once adopted, the firm uses the technology to its fullest capacity and maximizes the value of its investment. However, some firms struggle with technology adoption, either being slow or, worse yet, non-existent.
According to an annual digital adoption report by WalkMe, six in ten IT leaders are concerned end-users are not adopting new technology quickly enough. When adoption lags, it jeopardizes the return on investment. Depending on the firm, there can be a myriad of aspects behind slow technology adoption, but one area that ranks high is an employee’s resistance to change. It’s vital to anticipate this potential issue and have a proactive plan to overcome these obstacles. But first, let’s look at what factors contribute to this resistance.
According to an annual digital adoption report by WalkMe, six in ten IT leaders are concerned end-users are not adopting new technology quickly enough.
Why Employees Resist New Technology
Fear of Failure
Every organization has a range of adopters, from innovators to early adopters to laggards. Employees in the laggards category are comfortable with the current way of doing things and may struggle to embrace the latest technology. They tend to adopt only when forced to or because everyone has already adopted the new technology. In many cases, it can be due to a fear of failure since learning a new system can cause anxiety and a certain degree of apprehension. It’s not that these employees dislike technology, but unconsciously they fear that they won’t be able to adapt. They may feel overwhelmed and wonder how long it will take to learn the new system, and they may worry that they won’t be able to adapt as quickly as other tech-savvy coworkers.
Lack of Perceived Value
Another common factor is a lack of perceived value. Some employees who resist change might not technically fall under the laggards category. Perhaps they are comfortable with change but may resist adopting the new technology if they don’t see the value behind learning and using a new system. As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. During the training and ramp-up phase to utilizing a new system, the “old way” of doing things appears much easier. During this period, employees may struggle to adapt to change when they don’t experience some form of immediate value or see the big picture.
Strategies to Facilitate Technology Adoption
Set the Vision
It’s essential to present the big picture to your employees: articulate how the new technology will help them and the company in the future. Sharing the vision and goals will enable your employees to understand how the change will make their jobs easier. Low adoption rates are nearly guaranteed if employees don’t see a compelling reason to use the new system. Help them understand what the tool is, what it does, and why it was chosen. Acknowledge your employee’s concerns, and help them see the rationale behind the change and the benefits of the new technology. Knowing the goals and catching the vision makes it easier to get on board and adopt.
Change is unsettling for many people. As mentioned above, adopting new technology is often accompanied by negative perceptions, such as fear of the unknown, intimidation about how difficult the new systems will be, and the general pain of learning a new process. As leaders, it’s vital to reinforce employees positively as they use new technology. Celebrate success no matter how small, and draw attention to the new technology’s positive impact on the company. Seeing the wins will make believing in and adopting the new technology easier.
Providing incentives like cash or time off can build excitement and help employees get comfortable using new systems. Incentives draw people into using a new technology until it becomes a habit. According to McKinsey and Company, financial incentives are one of the most effective tools for executives to motivate employees when rolling out digital transformation initiatives. Their research found companies that implemented financial incentives tied directly to transformation outcomes gained nearly a “fivefold increase in total shareholder returns (TSR) compared with companies without similar programs.” Encouraging a more positive experience with incentives can go a long way toward overcoming the negative emotional associations with change.
Employees resist new technology for all sorts of reasons, and understanding those reasons is a key component in helping make adoption a success. From here, consider using the strategies outlined in this blog to overcome employee resistance and facilitate technology adoption across your organization.