Driving User Adoption: Making Sure Your Employees Are Engaged

Brian Berns

Although technology should make tasks faster and easier, it doesn’t always succeed. Despite significant investments in new technologies over the past decade, many organizations are actually watching their operations slow down due to underutilization of technology. Furthermore, as an increased number of processes are being automated or being infused with artificial intelligence, human-centric processes are lagging further behind in terms of efficiency and optimization.

Why doesn’t technology innovation always lead to a commensurate increase in efficiency? Substandard user interface design, confusing user experience, and/or badly crafted processes are partly to blame.

Technology innovation has followed an upward curve since the beginning of the century, but worker productivity has largely remained stagnant. Poor user engagement related to technology usage is part of the problem. A Gallup study found that 32% of employees who work in the United States are engaged, while worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged.

People are working harder, but they’re not working smarter. Due to job complexity, poorly designed applications, and a general lack of training, many employees are just not accomplishing enough to leverage the innovation and drive growth that successful businesses require.

The organizational symptoms of technology underutilization include:

  • Low user productivity
  • Slower, complex processes
  • High employee turnover
  • Time wasted putting out fires rather than strategically planning and training for change and software upgrades
  • Increased time required for training
  • Poor onboarding process

survey of our customers revealed that only 8.4% of enterprise software errors are system-related; the remaining 91.6% of errors are related to the user experience, design, or process. It’s not that employees aren’t working hard—they’re just busy dealing with rapid technology changes and constant workflow interruptions. Did you know that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and five seconds? Or that when severe interruptions happen, they wreak havoc: It can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover and get back to the task at hand. That means the average worker wastes three to five hours of each work day. That’s 40-60% of their work week.

Homing in on user needs

By understanding the reasons behind process bottlenecks and other errors, enterprises can more effectively allocate IT and human resources. User experience (UX) analytics help target investment in change management, IT, and other end-user functions to help organizations deploy best practices globally.

To improve technology adoption and usage, you first need to understand how the workforce is actually doing things. Using real-time analytics will give you a holistic view of organizational capabilities so you can:

  • Manage business change with minimal impact to end users and customers
  • Improve IT response to potential user errors before they are reported
  • Immediately notify IT as errors occur in order to proactively correct them before they impact operations
  • Better understand and address performance issues
  • Improve application design to drive efficiencies
  • Ensure smooth migration projects

This allows organizations to cut costs associated with human error—by identifying why and how employees experience and often create bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Paying attention to knowledge workers’ needs is essential to improving organizational performance. Higher user adoption has been shown to bring about increases in productivity and efficiency.

You need the right information

To ensure a successful user-adoption program, you first need the right information. Collecting detailed information about your IT assets is not enough. You also need to understand how these IT assets are actually being utilized by your employees.

An IDC report indicated that organizations that analyze relevant data and deliver actionable information will achieve productivity gains equaling $430 billion over their peers.

Consider the following recommendations:

  1. Understand your users and their needs: How are employees interacting with the applications they rely on for their day-to-day job? Do they find them intuitive, or do they get often stuck? Do they waste time waiting for the system to respond to their requests?
  2. Identify the issues: Find out if your current technology and solutions platform is being used properly before moving to a new one. Evaluate whether custom code, developed ad hoc and over time, needs to be replicated in the new environment.
  3. Measure actual user behavior with the business applications: Assess time spent on screens, wait time during screen refreshes, idle or think time, the number of process steps required to complete a task, volume of screen interactions, number of work-stopping errors, etc.
  4. Implement and evaluate: Sample actual user workflows to uncover inefficiencies like repetitive screen interactions, unnecessary steps, confusing warnings, and scenarios that require switching between applications or screen clutter that leads to excessive downtime.
  5. Always optimize: Identify opportunities to refine your workflows, minimize process complexity, and reduce the overall time to execute mission-critical tasks.

Encouraging effective adoption of new technology—by executives, mid-level managers, other employees, suppliers, vendors, and even customers—requires a thorough, relevant strategy for organizational change management. It’s a continuous process, one that requires creating positive expectations before an implementation, building skills during the implementation, and sustaining engagement and motivation after going live.

For more digital transformation adoption strategies, see Give Me Technology, But Help Me Deal With It.


Brian Berns

About Brian Berns

Brian Berns is CEO of Knoa Software. He is a successful software industry veteran with over 20 years of executive experience, including as president at Ericom Software. Brian also held the position of Division VP at FICO and SVP of North America at Brio Software (acquired by Oracle). Additionally, Brian has been the founding member of several successful software start-ups including Certona and Proginet. Brian has a BA from Yeshiva University, an MS from NYU, including studies at the NYU Stern School of Business MBA program, and computer science at the graduate school of the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

How Content Management Greases The Wheels Of Human Interactions

Bil Khan

Part 3 in the 3-part “Content Management ROI” series

When building a business case for investing in enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, it’s easy to overlook the human element. Sure, ECM solutions provide effective management of all types of enterprise content throughout the content lifecycle. Ideally, they provide for the secure, automated capture, storage, organization, and search of documents, complete with archiving and records management for auditing and compliance. But for what purpose?

Ultimately, ECM solutions aren’t about the content; they are for people who need fast, easy access to information, and the ability to search in a way relevant to their roles. This capability enables people to work together and solve problems faster: a contact center agent assisting a frustrated customer, for example, or an insurance underwriter onboarding a new policy, or an engineering team with easy, on-site access to current changes to construction drawings via mobile devices.

You know what it’s like in the real world before ECM. An internal customer asks you to provide time-sensitive information for an important report. But to do that, you need to interact with various systems with different interfaces. You log into each and do your best, but after two hours of effort, you can’t find what you need, as the content is fragmented and in different formats. It may not have been handled correctly, and isn’t easily searchable. It takes you five working days to dig around and uncover what’s needed – and you still can’t be sure your file is complete or whether it’s the most current document. You ultimately find it by digging around in paper files. But by then, the process for your internal customer has broken down.

A connected enterprise

ECM digitizes the end-to-end process for both structured data and unstructured content, organizing it for searchability and connecting it across the enterprise. Now information is automatically catalogued, up to date, and accessible from anywhere, on any device. The content is access-controlled and compliant, with a complete audit trail of the most recent changes. Now users can devote their time to more important tasks, confident that files are complete and current, and thus better meet the needs of employees, customers, and suppliers. ECM literally transforms how work gets done and problems get solved, and unlocks huge improvements in productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction while reducing job stress.

Why? Because information greases the wheels of human interactions, which are fundamental to how we as humans innovate, collaborate, and work. As noted by Forrester in the recent TEI study on ECM solutions, when people and teams are extended, that’s when the magic happens. In this study:

“Each organization gave Forrester an account of discovering value so great that they were reluctant to calculate a financial amount. What is the value, for example, of automatically generating a technical drawing that describes exactly the one-off assembly part the company wishes to purchase from an overseas supplier, with all supporting documents to initiate, authorize, and pay for the purchase? Lead time and errors go to zero, with follow-on value from the company’s customers in the form of loyalty and repurchase. Or another example: what is the value of putting a property diagram in the hands (or rather, onto a mobile device) of a utility worker so she knows exactly where (and where not) to dig? ‘We can’t put a number on that,’ was heard repeatedly during the interviews.”

I would argue that these are examples of what’s possible when easy, fast access to enterprise information is at employees’ fingertips.

An asset management example

To illustrate further, consider the example of using digital twins, which Gartner identified as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018. Gartner noted that well-designed digital twins of assets have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision-making.

How do you go about building a digital twin for your enterprise assets?

The key is to enable a 360-degree view of all information related to your equipment from both internal and external sources in order to create a complete digital replica of your physical assets, processes, and systems. Without a way to connect the information from all these sources, you may end up with incomplete or inaccurate information. Integrating an ECM solution into a network – one that connects suppliers, OEMs, and third-party service providers – could be the fastest, easiest way to achieve a 360-degree view of all information.

It’s important to note that assets are continuously changing because of maintenance, repairs, and other events. These changes may require updates in multiple systems of record to ensure safety, efficiency, and operational integrity. This means that the digital twin needs to be constantly updated with new information (think updated operating manuals, repair manuals, and training videos).

Integration with an intelligent network solution provides a single, intuitive interface to easily access online asset information from external sources such as suppliers, OEMs, engineering and procurement companies, and third parties. You can use this external information to enrich the asset data, including any documents, and then propagate this information through internal systems such as those for plant maintenance, as well as GIS, SCADA, content management, and engineering design systems.

This integration allows you to make informed decisions about managing and maintaining your assets, and it delivers far-reaching operational advantages such as:

  • Lower plant maintenance costs as a result of more efficient spares and parts management
  • Reduced safety and compliance risk through more accurate equipment data
  • Increased plant uptime due to more complete and accurate asset information
  • Improved plant reliability and enhanced operational compliance

Learn more

I encourage you to read the Forrester study to understand how the digitization of unstructured information is not only the starting point for digital transformation, but also for more efficient, effective, and rewarding human interactions central to how your business operates. Once content is stored systematically and cataloged so it can be intelligently searched and retrieved, quickly and easily, by the people who need it, you’ve paved the way for their success.


If Analytics Is The Engine, Then Data Is The Fuel Of The 21st Century

Simon Quinton

Whenever I talk to customers, attend industry events, or meet fellow industry leaders, one theme continues to emerge – how companies can modernize their IT. Whether it’s to increase revenue or unearth new opportunities, IT modernization is continually on top of the agenda.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking to implement a digital transformation strategy, which is why the industry is set to be worth over £15 trillion over the next five years. Major tech giants and fast-growth startups alike are increasingly turning to innovative technology and data-driven business models to realize their ambitions.

However, while data will inspire and fuel this digital change, without a robust analytics strategy in place it will be nearly impossible to extract true value from it. It’d be like owning a McLaren without a driver’s license.

For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) would not be feasible if there were no platforms to process and analyze the masses of data accumulated. Similarly, predictive analytics would be made redundant if organizations didn’t have solutions to present the insights in a legible and actionable format.

Let’s look at how organizations can put an analytics strategy in place to fully reap the benefits of data – learning from those organizations that are paving the way in this space.

Hitting potholes on the road to digital success

The road to digital transformation can be a bumpy ride. Not only is it costly, but many issues can crop up when deploying new applications:

Application implementation: The IT department has a key role to play in driving digitalization across the business. If applications aren’t integrated and connected, the business will operate in silos. The silo mentality must be broken down if digital transformation is to be achieved.

Data availability: Ensuring the availability of customer and employee data is crucial to improving customer satisfaction and employee productivity. Unplanned downtime and data outages continue to make major headlines, implicating well-known businesses for their poor service and damaging brand reputation.

Data hoarding: Yes, there is such a thing as too much data! Harboring useless data can become a drain on the business, so ensuring that your organization holds onto only the right data is critical. 

mBank sets the gold standard

While there are potholes to overcome, the road to digital transformation is well-traveled, and there are numerous examples of success. Case in point: Polish bank mBank. Despite being a relatively new player in the personal banking space, mBank has already set the standard for customer service and personalization.

As a bank that prides itself on putting customers first, mBank is using predictive analytics to initiate more direct conversations and connect customers with context-specific offers across all channels. For instance, if someone has recently had a mortgage approved to buy a house, that person might also be interested in details of a kitchen showroom, particularly if the showroom includes special offers for mBank customers.

By anticipating its customers’ future demands, response rates to market campaigns have been boosted by up to 400%. Analytics is giving mBank full visibility into customer behavior and preferences, enabling the bank to build an even more positive experience in the future.

Inspired by data

Data analytics has become an important pillar of digitalization for organizations across all industries.

However, getting to this point requires large amounts of data to be integrated with existing systems. Once successfully integrated, businesses will be able to ask the right questions and implement the right courses of action to improve customer satisfaction and employee collaboration. As a result, digital innovation systems have entered the market to help businesses gain maximum value from the data they generate and collect.

Have you rolled out an analytics road map? If not, what’s stopping you from jumping into the driver’s seat? If you’re interested in learning more about how to accelerate your digital transformation journey and get the most out of your data, I invite you to read about SAP’s analytic solutions.


Simon Quinton

About Simon Quinton

Simon Quinton is head of Analytics and Insight for SAP UK & Ireland. Simon is a strategic sales leader with a passion for and track record in building and developing high-performance sales teams to consistently deliver revenue growth. He has 17+ years’ experience working for both industry giants and fast-paced consulting businesses in the digital technology area.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”


Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.