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Insights on end-user adoption

Posted on 01 Mar, 2013 by in Collaboration & productivity | Leave a comment

In today’s technological landscape there’s an ever-accelerating demand for increased efficiency and effectiveness. As organizations evaluate new solutions, they must consider the effective end-user adoption of every technology prior to implementation, particularly as the cost of deployment and training are often driven by the rate of user adoption. Improvements designed to transform user capabilities typically cost money, which can increase exponentially for “disruptive” technologies. Successful implementation requires a careful evaluation of the tool, as well as its potential for end-user adoption.

User adoption enlightenment

User adoption is a key component of any successful technology implementation. I thus aim to discuss three questions to highlight its importance and relevance to organizations:

  1. Why is user adoption important?
  2. Resistance to change is often noted as the biggest obstacle to new technology adoption. To that end, what should organizations consider when evaluating disruptive technology?
  3. How does diffusion influence adoption?

In many organizations, decisions to deploy new technology are made by IT teams, and end-users may adapt immediately or defer use until it becomes a necessity to perform their job. The crucial adoption decisions are thus made on the demand-side (e.g. end-users), while purchasing strategies are often driven by the buy-side (management or technology executives).

The real question then becomes, who are the primary targets of the new technology? New technologies are expected to meet the needs of an organization, and the end-user in particular. However, some experts suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect the new technology to meet needs of every user. Rogers’ bell curve, for example, demonstrates this by grouping users into multiple categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The model describes that new, particularly “disruptive” technologies have the highest chance of adoption if they are targeted towards the business needs of early and late majority groups.

Let’s get specific and scientific

Further research illustrates that the importance of user adoption of new technology can be summarized as follows:

  1. Adoption is likely when the value provided by the new technology is greater than the cost, that being monetary and/or opportunity costs.
  2. Everett M. Rogers’ “diffusion of innovations” theory suggests that “diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.” The rate of adoption is, therefore, driven by the diffusion strategy or communication channels pursued by an organization opting for that technology. As such, diffusion is not only about identifying the target population for the new technology but also defining a formal adoption change plan that addresses why and how the new technology will be diffused to the end-users from both near-term and longer-term perspectives.
  3. Organizations may mitigate adoption risks in several ways:
    • Identifying the benefits for the technologies it provides to the target population
    • Managing perceptions and concerns by level-setting expectations and governance
    • Developing a support structure by enhancing communications and user skills

While certain best practices can increase user adoption, it cannot be forced upon the end-users. Usability that dictates a consistent and intuitive user experience of a technology is the key to successful adoption. It’s, therefore, valuable to invest time to understand the habits of end-users early in the design process. These types of interactions have increasingly led to a more intimate relationship between user experience designers and end-users.

Huddle designs for user delight

That said, what strategy does Huddle practice in efforts to overcome the challenges of low user adoption? Huddle takes a two-fold approach to ensure that every new feature or enhancement has undergone a rigorous user experience testing. First, Huddle conducts generative research to understand how people work as well as test to the appetite for the product in the conceptualization and development phases. Second, usability testing facilitates prototype feature testing to ensure that the user experience meets its intended purpose.

Huddle’s user experience team is focused and dedicated to building a functional product that is a “delight to use”, which means that the technology platform should be straightforward and easy to use, as if it was built for the customer and by the customer, with an intense focus on understanding and observing users day-to-day work practices, Huddle believes that it’s critical to react by providing a consistent experience where the users’ context and relevancy is expanded from their own content to a shared frame of reference across the organization. In addition, Huddle user experience designers account for the enhanced challenge when a new technology is chosen by the buy-side, thereby improving the learning curve for end users. Therefore, the best way to overcome this curve is to design for delight.

Coming soon…

This is the first of three blogs that discuss the importance of overcoming some of the key challenges of disruptive technology. Stay tuned for the next blog that will explore the potential for catalyst driving organizations to adapt the SaaS model over on-premise.

See how Huddle guarantees user adoption.

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