Why do we keep re-learning and re-discovering important issues when ti comes to technology innovation?
Over the years, I have seen a number of new technology products introduced into organisations. These were introduced to improve business processes as well as access to information. The projects I have participated in include:
- starting an Information Centre (IBM’s term in the mid-1980s for …
- implementing a data warehouse
- piloting an executive information systems (EIS) solution
- various ERP and CRM projects
All of these involved a degree of innovation and dispruption to people working in the organisation. Most of them had successes, and all of them encountered problems and areas of failure.
It wasn’t the technology as such that led to the problems and failings – although in the early projects the user interface was a mainframe terminal – but rather the implementation approach and the lack of attention to people factors. In many cases, it wasn’t the technology but the people issues that led to failures.
Recently I saw two articles pointing out that the discipline of change management, so critical to the people aspects of these kinds of projects, may need to be reviewed.
One critic noted that it is management that often fails manage it properly, not taking it seriously enough and handing it over instead to someone else. The other article states that change involves four elements:
- organizational engagement
- effective governance
Ignoring or down-playing any of these results in sub-optimal (at best) results.
I am now seeing a new wave of technology coming, in the form of enterprise social networking. If it’s seen as only a fad by management, the project will fail. People have got so used to email that getting them to adopt a new platform, like Microsoft’s Yammer, will be very difficult unless the change management elements are managed actively. I work for a technology company that is trialling Yammer, and I’ve already seen comments that indicate people don’t see the need or benefit of changing from something they are used to and happy with. So it’s interesting to see stories of large companies like ABB who are going the Yammer route. I would love to see their change management plan.
If anyone has a case study of an enterprise social network implementation that is implemented, has been adopted readily by users, and is delivering benefits, please let me know.