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.