• Workplace technology rollouts differ from personal technology purchases in several important ways
  • Organizations must consider multiple personas when designing a tech rollout
  • Let affected users know up front how the new technology will change their daily experiences

Everyone has a different attitude toward personal technology. Some people are eager to embrace the latest new gadgets, while others resist until they absolutely must buy a new phone or computer.

Attitudes toward workplace technologies also vary. But there’s a big difference between adopting personal technology and adopting workplace technology: In the workplace, choices about adding or migrating to a new technology are hardly ever made solely by the user.

Consequently, when deploying a new technology, B2B organizations must craft a clearly defined rollout plan that takes into account various stakeholders’ needs. Without the necessary planning and research, employees may not embrace the technology – or even understand how to properly use it – severely limiting the benefits of the rollout.

Organizations familiar with SiriusDecisions know about the importance of creating personas for ensuring that their offerings and messaging appeal to buyers. The same concept should be applied to internal technology rollouts, said Kerry Cunningham and Amanda Jensen during their keynote session at the 2016 SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange.

A persona-based approach to workplace technology rollouts starts with identifying the full spectrum of users and other affected employees – not just the early adopters and advanced users who commonly receive the most attention. For each persona, map the required competencies – the skills and knowledge necessary for using the new technology. “Technology doesn’t patch a skills gap – it often creates them,” Amanda noted.

Next, organizations must consider the positive and negative implications of the tech rollout for each persona. For example, if an organization adopts predictive lead scoring, a demand creation manager will get better leads (a positive), but may see a loss in social capital as the value of the leads and scoring that he provided pre-technology falls (a negative). The loss of control the manager may experience is another negative, but the chance to add new professional skills is another positive.

Giving each persona an honest rundown of the pluses and minuses of the new technology is critical. “When you acknowledge these affordances upfront, you don’t run into situations where you get pushback from employees because the information wasn’t part of the initial introduction,” Amanda explained.

Personas’ tech adoption profiles also play a major role in the rollout plan. From innovators and early adopters to laggards, each type must receive careful attention. Similarly, learning types (e.g. visual, interactive) and preferred training delivery methods can vary widely. Kerry and Amanda recommended that organizations consider the immediacy of feedback required, the timeline in which the person must learn the new information or skill, the degree of interactivity of the skill, the amount of information that must be learned, and the costs of delivering learning in person vs. virtually.

Most importantly, throughout the rollout process, the team leading the rollout must keep in mind that technology adoption is inherently human change; most people like to have choices and don’t like being overwhelmed. A rollout plan that incorporates flexibility and delivers information in small pieces might require significant advance work, but it usually will have the greatest chance of success.

“Wherever you are in the organization, understand that transitioning people through tech adoption requires real planning, thoughtfulness and leadership,” Kerry said.