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Unfortunately, human resistance to change is not a new-found phenomenon. We are often resistant to change because we perceive that it is a threat to us. Introducing new technologies creates those same negative emotions for people. For us IT service providers, our clients are often at the forefront of that resistance. Throughout the years, I have had many opportunities to deploy new technologies and see, first-hand, users' reactions to them. I've learned how to overcome resistance to change. Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Identify early adopters
A pivotal element that I have noticed in successful deployments lies in a certain class of people that the industry describes as "early adopters." These individuals are the ones who jump in feet first and are willing to try version 1.0 of something before the general masses. The significance that these users play is that they are the ones to help communicate the messages such as: "Hey, this isn't that bad" or "This is the product that we have been waiting for." It is in your best interest to seek out these individuals in an organization. How do you spot an early adopter? One way: if you see someone wearing a pair of Google glasses or an Apple watch, you've found your mark. These early adopters are extremely important in getting the rest of the organization to adopt the new technology that you've implemented. However, if the products are not working as advertised those same users will inform IT and the rest of the organization about any shortcomings.
2. Set a good technology adoption example
Learning how to overcome resistance to change starts at home. As an IT service provider, we too have to embrace our role and be early adopters. Too often, I am confronted with colleagues who are avoiding using the newest technologies. How can we be advocates of new technologies if we refuse to utilize them ourselves? You never want to be in a position where a client is the one introducing a new piece of technology to you. You are the expert and you should be the one educating clients in this area -- not the other way around.
3. Don't overlook the importance of timing
Stanley LouissaintPresident, Fluid Designs Inc.
The IT industry has seen countless examples of resistance to new technologies. Let's look at a piece of tech that came, died and has had a massive rebirth: the tablet. Though the tablet had many iterations, the first one intended for the mainstream was introduced in 2002 running Windows XP Tablet PC edition. At that time, this then-new product was revolutionary and going to change everything overnight. We know what happened: It didn't. People didn't understand what this item was and what it was supposed to do for them. The tablets were clunky, application interfaces weren't optimized for their use and, frankly, they just didn't work as advertised. Let's fast forward to 2015. Tablets are a staple item in people's personal and professional lives. Other areas of tech have progressed enough to allow for the tablet to be used in the manner that it was originally intended to be used.
According to an IDC study of European IT decision-makers, 40% of enterprise tablet users are using that technology as their sole business device. When the tablet died, nobody would have predicted that it would have come back with this type of usage and user base.
So, how does this relate to our clients? We also need to be conscious of not introducing the right technology at the wrong time. Is there adequate support yet? Are there enough benefits to outweigh the cons of having a new technology? Are the benefits tangible? Is this going to save money or increase user efficiency and productivity? We need to ask the right questions so that we can properly overcome resistance from our clients when we are met with it.
4. Clearly state the technology's advantages
You need to be clear and concise. It is our job to convey the message about why this new piece of hardware or software is beneficial to the organization or its users. If the benefit isn't clear then it doesn't exist. Utilizing this strategy has enabled us to overcome barriers that clients have put up when we propose new options.
How to overcome resistance to change is one of several technology and business topics Stanley Louissaint has covered for Tech Target. Louissaint is president of Fluid Designs Inc., an IT services provider in Union, N.J.
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