How the CIO can win over the most tech-resistant and tech-reluctant employees

Andrey Kudievskiy is the founder and CEO of Distillery, an international full-service software design and development company based in Los Angeles. He works with enterprises and startups to create new products and fundamentally improve existing ones. Prior to Distillery, Andrey also founded software development company Rus Wizards LLC and served as the CEO for Obiq Russia LLC, where he established the company’s operations and staff from the ground up.

CIOs often face significant hurdles when building new technology or implementing it into their businesses. Budget restrictions, lack of buy-in from management, resistance from employees, or simply not knowing where to start can make success feel impossible. Adopting new technology is necessary for business survival, though.

Many CIOs underestimate the amount of strategy and planning necessary to pull off the project, causing their implementations to fail. They also don't consider the role of company culture in hindering or helping tech adoption. A recent survey found that 26% of employees believe culture is a barrier to change — especially with digital initiatives. 

While these roadblocks seem daunting, CIOs must push through. Implementing new tech is the only way companies can stay relevant and competitive.

New tech or bust

Modern CIOs have no choice but to overcome the barriers to adopting new tech if they want to thrive. Emerging tech — think 5G networks, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence — will alter the business world in unimaginable ways and disrupt countless industries. This is particularly true for consumer-facing sectors such as retail.

But tech isn't only a threat to businesses; it's also an opportunity. Technology can support new business models, leading to additional revenue. It can also cut costs and allow businesses to be more strategic. Finally, it can engage your customers by offering them newer, more efficient ways to communicate and solve problems.

In other words, tech is everything. Most organisations are eager to implement new technology, with worldwide tech spending expected to reach more than $3 billion in 2019. Moreover, companies allocated 26% of their IT budgets toward software and 21% toward cloud costs.

Even businesses without an obvious tech connection see the benefits of investing in digital. SeneGence, for instance, is a multilevel marketing company that sells skincare and beauty products. It's in no way a tech-heavy operation, but it still has a CTO and a small engineering team working to build mobile apps to improve customer experience.

That said, some industries have an easier time with tech implementation than others. The gap between tech-heavy and tech-resistant sectors is not insurmountable, though, with most industries less than 15% as digitised as their tech-savvy counterparts. To ensure your company doesn't fall behind, you must encourage your team to be open to new technologies.

Implementing new tech

Just because new tech is necessary for business survival doesn’t mean all employees will welcome it with open arms. Some will be sceptical, and others might fear that investment in tech will lead to job loss. In reality, new tech will make everyone's job easier. It’s the CIO's duty to communicate this truth and get the whole team on board. The following strategies will help ensure that implementation is a success:

Outline expectations

If you want employees to adopt new technology, you have to communicate the reasons for the change early. Your goal should be to engage employees in the creation process and earn their buy-in. Make sure you are specific about why you're adopting new technology — "because leadership says so” isn’t a good enough answer.

Include all employees in your communication. It's important to learn how they work, which will allow you to explain how the tech will improve their processes. Don't forget to identify any potential negative effects and discuss how the company will mitigate them.

Start small

Building and implementing new tech are slow processes. By introducing new tech in phases rather than all at once, it will be less overwhelming for employees. These processes can also take a lot of time, depending on the size of your company, so you’ll need to include that in your plans.

Provide training and support

Employees may resent the amount of training required to adopt new technology — especially as this often takes them away from their day-to-day duties. Make things easier by scheduling specific training times, allowing team members to plan around training and prioritise their tasks. Show you understand that training might add pressure to their days, and invite them to speak to you if they have any concerns.

Continually test

The tech launch is not the end of the creation and implementation processes — it’s more like the middle. You’ll need to monitor and track success metrics continually. This is necessary not only to prove the investment was worthwhile but also to identify ways to improve the use of the tech.

The particulars will depend on the technology, your business, and what you hope to achieve. Metrics, for example, can include how many employees have adopted the tech, how much time it’s saving, or how it’s affecting customer satisfaction scores. Once you feel confident that adoption is widespread and that the tech is being used effectively, continue to monitor use to maintain momentum and prevent regression.

When businesses fail to adopt new tech, they quickly fall behind their competitors. Tech creation and implementation are difficult for everyone, and some employee resistance should be expected. But with the right planning and communication, CIOs can ensure the new tech they integrate fuels future company success.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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