Amanda Charlesworth, Head of Partner Success at Fast Track, offers up some useful wisdom about the challenges of adopting new technology in your organisation, notably how you can overcome them and what suppliers can do to support successful adoption.
What are the main obstacles organisations face when adopting new technology?
When introducing new third party technology to your team, there are usually three main concerns:
- Finding tech resources to help with integration and setup.
- Finding a supplier who can provide both the capabilities and support you need.
- Successfully onboarding users so that you can reach your goals.
The first question is finding internal tech resources to support the integration and set-up of new tools and platforms. For online operators, the tech backlog is often a constant juggling act, so prioritising a new integration requires some strategic planning and negotiation.
Assuming you are working with a third party supplier, external factors are also brought into the mix. It’s important that any limitations or additional costs are communicated clearly during the sales process. If they are not, this can make the time and cost involved to implement the new technology effectively much greater than anticipated. The ease of communication and level of transparency between an operator and a supplier are the foundation of how the continuing relationship will be. If the foundation isn’t strong, the relationship will likely be unstable.
Once you have allocated tech resources and found a supplier you want to work with, it’s important to explain to any affected teams why things are changing and what they can expect. This will help to drive motivation for learning something new. A shiny new platform or tool that nobody knows how to use effectively isn’t going to do much by itself. Onboarding users successfully is key when you want to introduce new technology or ways of working.
How can you set yourself up to avoid these types of problems?
When you are considering adopting new technology, your company culture and specifically the culture within the team(s) that will be affected by the change should be front of mind. I have seen that teams that have good communication alongside a desire to constantly improve are the ones that have the easiest time adopting our platform. It also helps when the people who will be working with the platform have been involved in the decision-making process or, at the very least, kept informed of the progress so that they are not blindsided when the change is made.
Additionally, it’s important that everyone understands what needs to be achieved and why, including any external supplier. Any goals you have for what successful adoption will look like should be communicated clearly to both the teams who will work with the platform and the developers who will help with integration and set up.
Finally, when looking at potential suppliers, apart from ensuring you have access to the capabilities you will need, it’s also important to consider how you will adopt those capabilities. Setting clear expectations with the supplier from the beginning of the relationship is going to support initial adoption and long-term success. This includes ensuring that they have a clear vision for the future of their technology and that it is a vision that you can buy into.
How can suppliers support successful adoption of their products?
A supplier’s first job is to understand the problem they are solving. Why does an organisation approach you for help? Are they trying something for the first time or updating an existing process? Suppliers also have to understand the markets and verticals their partners work in and all the other things that make them unique. Only with all of this information can they deliver a solution that is going to meet the individual needs of each partner.
Suppliers should also be prepared to support user onboarding. They should have a plan for how to guide their partners from initial integration to full adoption. Myself and my team have approached this by creating the “Fast Track Pathway”. This sets clear goals for us to structure training, detailed documentation and ongoing support to our partners around. The Pathway begins with freeing up time through centralising all their CRM activity in one platform and guides partners through different milestones towards the end goal of machine learning-powered CRM.
Effective ongoing support is only made possible by ensuring you have open and transparent communication with your partners from the beginning. You need to make sure that from the very first sales pitch until your most recent support request that you set realistic expectations, invite feedback and never make promises you can’t keep.
What does successful adoption look like?
If you set clear goals from the moment you decide to adopt new technology, it makes it much easier to measure success. Meeting or exceeding those goals is a good indicator that you have successful adoption within your organisation.
Another good indicator is that the users within your organisation are comfortable and able to work with the platform or tool independently. They are less reliant on external support and may even be able to help onboard new users internally.
However, successful adoption isn’t only about being able to get the day to day work done right now though. To truly maximise the return on any new technology, a healthy feedback loop built on open communication should also be in place. This means that the supplier can inform you about potential improvements and best practices to get the most out of the platform or tool. Equally, you can report any issues you encounter or suggest new features you want to see and know that your thoughts will be listened to. In this way you can buy into a shared vision of where the technology is heading and support continuous improvement within the teams using it.