TH Herbert is the CEO of Semarchy, a data software company that enables organizations to leverage their data to create business value.
In our age of digital acceleration, it’s clear that technology is key to improving business operations. Enterprise software solutions are being used more than ever, from BI and CRM to ERP and data management platforms. According to Statista, revenue in this sector is expected to reach $118.5 billion by the end of this year.
While the market is undoubtedly booming—and for good reason—many companies are choosing and investing in tech without fully understanding how it will help them drive the business outcomes they are aiming for. Many organizations make the common mistake of choosing platforms because of buzzwords and hype. AI and machine learning, blockchain, data mesh and data marketplaces are everywhere. This “razzle-dazzle” factor, paired with a lack of understanding about what new technologies are actually capable of when put into practice, gets in the way of executives making smart technology investments that benefit their teams and bring the desired business value.
To get the most out of their technology spend, companies should aim to understand which technologies and capabilities are best able to drive fast results. Focus on investing in pragmatic and valuable technologies that offer the simplest, most reliable solution and truly serve your needs. Create an adoption plan that focuses on improving business processes and increasing ROI—rather than succumbing to the hype and empty promises or assuming that what works in one instance is a global solution.
AI and machine learning, for example, require complex algorithms and massive amounts of data, which adds to many existing challenges, including data privacy, security and knowledge gaps in how to make such solutions sustainable. There is wisdom in taking the simplest and most established solution to solve a problem instead of taking risks on unproven or complex ones.
Here are three common mistakes organizations make when integrating new software solutions into their operations—and how to avoid them.
1. Introducing Multiple Disparate Technologies
Many companies make a critical mistake by requiring their employees to use too many platforms in their everyday tasks. This causes context switching: the human tendency to switch back and forth between unrelated tasks during the workday.
Research shows that context switching decreases employee productivity and increases frustration. For example, in a study by Carnegie Mellon, researchers found that team members lose about 20% of their cognitive capacity to context switching when working on multiple tasks simultaneously. When an investment in a new platform leads to a loss in productivity, your tech is no longer serving you. This is why it is vital for technology decision makers to be aligned with their staff, understanding the platforms they already use and how new technologies may impact their day-to-day tasks.
On top of productivity loss due to context switching, multiple platforms that aren’t adequately integrated can cause data silos that not only slow down productivity but also cause risk. Without data being presented in one location—as a single source of truth for employees to turn to—communication breakdowns will occur, and mistakes will be made.
Instead of investing in multiple new technologies, determine which program or programs are actually effective in driving employee efficiency and productivity, rather than choosing systems based on their overall reputation in the industry. Another solution for data-driven companies is to invest in a centralized data solution. A master data management platform will centralize data, thus streamlining workflows, removing silos and allowing teams to collaborate efficiently.
2. Introducing Edge Technology Without The Internal Skills To Operate And Sustain It
Bleeding-edge solutions are released to the public without thorough testing. While all technology solutions require ongoing care and maintenance, bleeding-edge tech often requires proprietary skills in an already competitive market. If companies introduce bleeding-edge technologies without the tools or skills to use them, they will never be able to utilize them to their full potential. This complexity will lead to more mistakes, unintended business outcomes and negative consequences.
Before implementing bleeding-edge technologies, make sure your team understands its purpose as well as the possible flaws and glitches that can occur. Ask your tech-savvy employees to test these solutions and contribute their ideas to improve them. These internal skills will help your company decide whether or not it is a wise investment of time and money.
3. Introducing New Tech Without An Adoption Plan
You can have the best platform in the world, but if no one is using it, what’s the point?
Just as it is vital to onboard new employees to your organization, executives must onboard their employees to new tech. Without the proper introduction, employees will default to old processes, and your investment will render little ROI.
The truth is that employees take on tech very differently than their leaders. While “90% of C-suite executives say their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new programs,” only 53% of staff can agree with this claim. The fear of obsolescence, paired with the difficulty of embracing unapproachable technologies, can culminate in a lack of adoption. This is why it is crucial to consider your employees and implement an adoption plan before making an investment.
Ask your employees what they’re looking for in new tech. What would boost productivity? What are the pain points they’re facing during their daily tasks? Communicating with your team will make it easier to find a pragmatic product they are ready to adopt.
Many factors are at play when deciding on new technology for your business. This is why it is essential to keep it simple and focus on the present and future needs of your company. Those who favor substance over style and make their staff a part of the adoption process should see a strong ROI, improved workplace culture and a positive customer experience.
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