To say that implementing any type of customer-oriented technology isn’t exactly a walk in the park would be putting it mildly. There isn’t a single business in this digital world of ours that hasn’t stressed out over some tech-based problem at some point. Introducing technology into your routine isn’t a pretty affair – I guarantee you that. While most organizations regularly face some of the same problems their peers do, very few actually know what to do when confronted by them.
With this post, I aim to talk about some of the main challenges faced by businesses when adopting technology systems for customers, and a couple of things on how to deal with them.
Challenge #1: choosing the right systems and procedures
The keyword I’d like to focus on here is ‘right’.
Not every technology is useful. Some tech can even be poorly integrated but ultimately tweaked into submission (so to speak) later on. Businesses often make the mistake with new tech adoption because it’s the “right thing to do” or “cool new thing on the market”. There needs to be context to its implementation. At the heart of every constant technological innovation should be one simple question: how will this technology help me better connect with my customers?
You need to think about your daily operational processes and how the unique needs of your employees and customers, as well as existing systems and procedures, fit in with this new technology. In other words, you need to make sure you can actually utilize its full potential with your customers benefiting from this investment. Technology for technology’s sake brings little to no value. No one wants to be forced to use (or even learn how to use) a new system just because it’s new – it needs to align with your key systems and procedures and show clear end-user benefits.
Challenge #2: poor compatibility with legacy systems
Closely related to the previous challenge, this instance typically shows the extent of poor leadership skills and a lack of transparency. Because businesses these days have entire tech-powered ecosystems under their thumb, settling on a proper solution is far from easy. As a result, old processes and infrastructure become neglected and newer technologies do not integrate well.
Your legacy systems and applications will inevitably need to be adjusted to make way for the new technology without causing disruption and additional training and development. Innovation through technology is a continuous journey, where even the current new tech will be replaced down the road sometime. Hence, it’s vital to have proper integration planning and execution on to the existing infrastructure so it seamlessly connects the solution to customer experience – the ultimate goal of this exercise.
Challenge #3: inadequate training
Missing a mark completely or partially with new tech is one thing, but getting it right still has the lingering issue of adequate training. With any technology implementation about to see the daylight in a new office, some onboarding will be mandatory.
Here’s where the mistake is made: the label ‘user-friendly’ doesn’t automatically mean your staff will be spared the frustration of using something new and largely unknown.
To ensure a smooth transition from old to new, training and other technical support such as security and upgrades are essential. Training is an investment on its own, and skimming on it can be very costly in the long run if bottlenecks at customer touch-points pop up. In addition, there’ll be more push back from the staff, which leads to a decrease in productivity (at least at the beginning). Your workforce needs to have a clear picture of how the implementation connects to customers – something which proper training and support facilitates.
What can you do?
Sometimes, all that is needed is a different perspective to overcome these challenges. In this case, I strongly suggest approaching the implementation with modularity in mind. One of the greatest things about any type of technology in new surroundings is that it can significantly simplify your architecture.
So, my first tip in overcoming the challenges above is to:
Implement the new system in phases
Meaning, implement module by module and not the entire thing at the same time. Even though a great deal of businesses is moving away from in-house IT toward agile cloud tech, the implementation doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch, and certainly not all at once. Software code standardization and established integration standards have made it possible to integrate systems in phases, rolling them out in waves to specific teams first.
The only downside of this action is that it’s somewhat time-consuming and can cause delays in the implementation. Still, based on my experience, this is the best way (or least painful, anyway) to do it.
With that in mind:
Prioritize the modules you want to implement
This is another thing you can do. Start with the basics and choose an easy module. This not only provides the shortest timeframe for a specific functionality but also gives you a quick win that benefits the employees and not the management. Why? Because you want to create more engagement from their side and get them on board more easily. Gaining but also sustaining high levels of user adoption is very important to realize the technology’s full potential.
Don’t rush – be patient
As a final piece of advice, steer clear of rushing the process. Modernizing your company’s technology requires quite a bit of patience on your behalf, both with the technology and the people involved with it. Nothing happens overnight so it’s important to be flexible with deadlines in order to avoid pressurizing your employees and, in turn, stifling their productivity. If possible, slowly integrate the technology into your everyday operations.
The many stories of failed implementations should be a lesson to every business out there, big or small. Try to cut corners to save some time and money, and all you’ll end up are half-assed integrations and sloppy migrations, if even that. It’s a commitment that opens up numerous possibilities but only if you handle it the right way.