Mistakes That CIOs Make When Introducing New Technology

New technology is great, but it's how we introduce it that really matters
New technology is great, but it’s how we introduce it that really matters
Image Credit: go digital

CIOs understand that new technologies are coming at us all of the time. When we discover a new technology that we believe will benefit our company (think “Zoom”), we want to introduce it to the company as quickly as possible. However, that is where a lot of us end up going wrong. We need to understand that the introduction of a new technology means change and almost nobody likes change. What that means is that we need to be careful and make sure that we don’t make mistakes in how we go about introducing new technology into the workplace.

The Problem With New Technology

CIOs are turning to new technology to improve decision making and innovation. But we often screw up a crucial part of the process which is getting employees on board with the changes. This problem, at its most basic level, is that CIOs usually don’t anticipate that systems will lead to fears and suspicions among their employees who feel disrespected or displaced. And we usually don’t recognize that the systems often mean employees have to take on new work that can disrupt their routines. Understanding these types of pitfalls is crucial. Research has found that helping employees to accept new technologies can be just as important as making sure the systems work in the first place.

Avoiding Problems When Introducing New Technology

If a CIO can do it right they’ll have employees who embrace the new technologies and use them to reduce costs and improve product and service quality. Do it wrong and they’ll have employees who are frustrated, resentful, angry – and likely to resist implementation of the new technology. Where do our technology implementation processes go awry? It turns out that there are four ways that CIOs trip themselves up. The good news is that they can avoid those mistakes.

The first type of mistake that we can make when we are introducing new technologies into our company is when we use junior employees as trainers. Sure, on the surface, it seems to make sense. Younger employees who are the ones who grew up immersed in the digital world will surely be quick to learn new technology. Additionally, they’ll be a lot more flexible about incorporating it into their routines. So we think, why not use them to train the rest of the staff? The reason that this is not a good idea is because this strategy can make longtime employees feel slighted and end up making it tougher to train them. So, what does work? It turns out that rotating the role of trainer so that sometimes longer-tenured employees do the teaching is a good idea. In these cases, trainees will embrace rather than resist the new technology. CIOs need to understand that choosing trainers who are initially less skilled might not seem to be the most efficient way to do things. However, putting rookies in charge is always a likely recipe for failure.

Another mistake is to add a new layer of workers to handle a new technology. Sometimes CIOs decide to sidestep the problems of training. Instead of getting everybody up to speed, they instead add new employees to take on the burden of dealing with the new tech. These people may be data scientists. Alternatively they may designate certain employees as “super users” to take on those new jobs. The good news is that this may spare current employees from having to learn new technical skills. But in the end it is likely to raise new problems. None of this means that adding new roles is something that is doomed to fail. But CIOs should be careful not to get caught up in the idea of a new technology as a magic bullet that can displace the old way of doing things. In addition, they shouldn’t signal that they value data scientists, computer scientists or other people in new roles more than they value their traditional employees. And, crucially, they should be sure to hire new people who have the emotional skills to reassure their current workers and patiently explain the new systems to them.

CIOs should not focus on prominent users. Obviously, if a company wants to get the whole organization on board with new technology, it must get powerful stakeholders, such as high-level employees, to accept it. However, even when those stakeholders do embrace the technology, it can lead to conflicts with lower-level workers. Why is this? It turns out that many emerging technologies promise to automate a lot of practices and processes. The issue is that in the real world, they can’t do that job perfectly. The result of this is that they leave a lot of extra work that your lower-level workers must cover.

Finally, CIO must never assume that developers can create tools in a vacuum. CIOs unfortunately often assume that the process of adding new tech goes in one direction: Their developers create a tool, and then their users adapt to it. But to make things go smoothly, the users have to have a back-and-forth dialogue with the developers about how the system is being designed to work. What this means is that CIOs should anticipate the need for collaboration between their users and their developers. As part of this, they should be aware of the laborious nature of that kind of collaboration. This means that they need to frame the work in a positive way. Perhaps as a learning opportunity for users, developers and the technology itself.

What All Of This Means For You

There will always be new technologies. What this means for a CIO is that we need to be ready to find ways to work new technologies into the way that things are being done at our company. We also have to realize that the introduction of new technologies will not always be an easy thing to do within our companies. In order for a new technology to be a success, it is going to have to be accepted by our employees. That does not always happen.

The reasons for a new technology not being accepted by our employees can be many and varied. CIOs can make the mistake of using our junior workers to act as instructors for our more senior employees. We can also make the mistake of adding another layer of workers just to get started using the new technology. Although we will want key employees to embrace the new technology, we need to be careful to not focus solely on those workers. We also have to realize that for any new technology to be correctly designed to work with our company, the developers and the users have to be in contact with each other.

CIOs need to realize that the processes of introducing emerging technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics aren’t straightforward. CIOs who hope to successfully implement these technologies need to focus on issues of both employee status and roles, and the amount of new work that will need to be done to make the new technologies a success.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How do you think a CIO can determine if a new technology has been a success at their company?

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