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Throughout August, we are turning our focus toward workplace technology adoption—why it’s important, how it’s achieved, and how companies and employees can benefit from it. Over the years, we have supported organizations in cultivating employee proficiency with software applications and improving organizational mastery of technology use, which ultimately leads to transformational growth.

We use that experience as a foundation for this series, and build upon it with the lessons both we and our clients have learned. Use this series as a guide as your organization formulates its own digital adoption strategy.

Previous post in this series:
Put Insight into Practice

When German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus first described his “forgetting curve” in 1885, he probably could not have imagined how relevant his research would be 132 years later. His curve—which hypothesizes how information is lost over time when there are no attempts to retain it—was applicable back then, and is even more so today, especially regarding workplace technology adoption.

The forgetting curve is what happens when organizations overlook the human side of change. It’s what happens when business leaders forgo change management strategy and instead rely on yesterday’s approach to challenges with today’s technology. Most notably, the forgetting curve is the greatest barrier to true adoption and return on investment.

Minimizing it is critical to technology adoption success. For that, you need an adoption plan that prioritizes the business user to run parallel to your migration and deployment efforts.

The forgetting curve is what happens when organizations overlook the human side of change

In our last two posts, we wrote about the initial phases of our digital adoption strategy—discovery and planning. Today we examine the adoption phase—why it’s important, what it’s designed to accomplish, and how it benefits both the organization and employees.

During the first two phases of your adoption approach, you gathered insight and used it to design a plan of action. The next step is deployment, which is when the adoption phase begins and you execute your strategy. Your goal during this period is to ensure that everyone in your organization reaches a basic level of adoption with the new technology—which requires a solid defense against the forgetting curve.

You build that defense in a number of ways:

  • Deploying adoption champions and curriculum
  • Combining early adopter and new community feedback loops
  • Tracing, tracking and adjusting programs based on adoption level snapshots
  • Promoting successes and responding to feedback
  • Using multiple channels to communicate with employees—about the implementation, project milestones, and ways in which they can apply their new skills

Your defense also should include a range of learning modalities, including self-guided learning tracks, targeted short-burst learning opportunities, and an expert-level user support desk to close the gaps.

These efforts encourage adoption in a number of ways. Pilot groups provide insight about possible roadblocks and give business leaders time to prepare pre-emptive solutions. Feedback, when collected frequently and acted upon promptly, ensures that unexpected implementation challenges are resolved quickly. Varied learning options—that is, those that differ in content, delivery method, and time investment—ensure that employees are learning what they need when they need it. Methods like short-burst learning and spaced instruction also increase the chance that the learning will stick.1

While most organizations lack the internal knowledge resources (or the time) to construct such a learning plan, many technology companies have responded to prevalent adoption challenges among organizations by offering free assets and guidance to their customers. Microsoft, for example, has empowered its customers with the Microsoft FastTrack Center—including a vast repository of planning documents, templates, and expertise on both technical and change management strategies. The Microsoft FastTrack team even assists customers with the technical migrations themselves.

In addition to this repository, Microsoft promotes a variety of offers to customers seeking adoption assistance. As an established global Microsoft partner for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 FastTrack programs, Vitalyst has seen first-hand the impact these efforts have on technology adoption, and how they support a long-term strategy that’s focused on mastery. We have worked with more than 100 enterprise customers to implement strategic adoption initiatives aligned with Microsoft’s FastTrack offerings. We helped each of these organizations increase adoption across all major Office applications like Skype for Business and OneDrive by 15 percent, while also reducing deployment time frames by half. Not surprisingly, many of these customers worked with our teams to establish ongoing programs for many to progress their digital roadmaps using Microsoft tools.

Over the 25 years we’ve been in business, we have learned that to achieve true adoption with technology, the needs of business users must be paramount. This phase ensures minimal disruption during deployment and readies the organization to go beyond the basics toward a deeper understanding of the new technology.

Next week: The final phase of our digital adoption strategy, empowerment, and realization of ROI.

1. For more on Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, spaced learning, and other factors that are transforming corporate learning, see “The Disruption of Digital Learning: 10 Things We Have Learned,” by Josh Bersin, March 27, 2017

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