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How to take on technology adoption for your company

Technology adoption is about evolving with innovation, and starting small builds the foundation needed to keep pace and grow.

How to take on technology adoption for your company
[Alex /AdobeStock],[NDABCREATIVITY /AdobeStock]

With the speed of technology and innovation these days, it can be both intimidating and tempting to jump into a new system that could potentially revolutionize your business. Every day, a new platform comes along and sharpens the cutting edge of business software, and it may seem like the smartest bet is to go full throttle into a new wave of tech-powered business.

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Instead of running blindly into those sharp edges with full, system-wide upgrades, business owners should focus on making technology adoption a step-by-step evolution that starts small and builds.

SMALL BITES ARE EASIER TO CHEW

The best way to break down the process of technology adoption is in three phases: pilot programs, initial test rollouts, and company-wide implementation. 

Start small with the people involved. A few trusted opinion leaders can run the pilot group and work out the kinks before rolling it out more broadly to others with less expertise. Upgrade smaller, less critical business processes before attempting major enterprise resource planning (ERP) ones. Starting small gets people used to the new technology so everyone has an easier time getting on board when it comes time to adopt it.

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For example, when a new employee joined our IT team, one of his first technology rollouts started small. It was a device encryption program, and a pilot adoption group confronted and dealt with issues on a small scale. IT quickly fielded their questions and enhanced their capacity to support new users as the project expanded to smaller trial groups and, eventually, the whole team. Imagine if the rollout had happened all at once without first starting small. Those few issues among two or three people would have become an inundation of problems among hundreds. With small bites, the process was seamless, but choking on big issues right at the outset could have hurt our company’s chances of successfully adopting the technology.

AVOID BIGGER PROBLEMS DOWN THE LINE

Starting small on the front end of technology adoption leads to smaller problems down the line. During a period of explosive growth, we tried rolling out a customer relationship management (CRM) tool without starting small. Each salesperson took the lead in defining those relationships, but we ended up with broad, undefined CRM deployed in different ways throughout the company as a result. Improving those systems now at such a massive scale will take a lot more time and resources. If we had started small, established a framework for CRM processes, and let our salespeople build from there, the challenges to overcome would be more focused and isolated.

When it comes to starting small, any type of rollout can grow along four pillars: people, processes, tools, and attitude. The leaders from the pilot group advise the initial test rollout team, which later supports the company-wide effort. Once everyone feels comfortable with a few basic tools and processes, expand them to more vital business components. Attitude belongs on this list because, for good technology adoption, people have to believe in its benefits for them and the company. One negative attitude about a new technology can affect the rest of the people on the project, prevent the adoption, or hurt the experience of the end target user.

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BUILD ON EXPERIENCE FOR A MORE SECURE FOUNDATION

Technology adoption is about evolving with innovation, and starting small builds the foundation needed to keep pace and grow. For example, our current upgrade for one of our manufacturing systems needs to be completed before we tackle something bigger. Pilot campaigns teach you how to anticipate and avoid the issues from a smaller perspective before having to confront them on a larger scale. The information you accumulate at each incremental phase allows you to build a stronger plan for the most efficient organizational deployment.

Starting small also builds a foundation of confidence. As a business leader, easing into technology lets me feel more confident in the company’s ability to transition and my ability to lead us into the future. My team notices when we hit technology milestones by vetting the process before the upgrade goes company-wide. A lack of preparation can make people feel frustrated with the new technology, affecting their work and the team’s energy. Starting small allows everyone to expect the transition and feel comfortable asking questions and building on the experience of those who have already gone through it.

When you start small with technology adoption, each improvement builds on the previous one, growing your technological capacity alongside the scale of your company. Start small, and the next project will go much more smoothly. By the full rollout, you and your team will feel confident enough to handle it as a company. Starting small requires patience, which may not be easy as innovation races around you, but good things come to those who start small and grow.

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Cheri Beranek is the President and CEO of Clearfield, providing optical-fiber management and connectivity solutions across North America.

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