Blog_10252018

IT & Business Users: How to Narrow the Perception Gap

Technology has changed the workplace in many ways—the pace of work, how people communicate and collaborate, where people work, and more. As work has transformed, organizations and employees have faced challenges accepting and adjusting to the new rules—the changing dynamic between IT and users has been particularly tough.

And although digital transformation is not a new phenomenon, IT and business users currently struggle with a perception gap, according to a survey conducted by Forrester for Nexthink—that is, IT is not performing as well as it thinks it is.

Forrester’s report points to “misaligned priorities” as a key source of the disconnect between IT and users. For example, while 79 percent of IT workers said their department prioritizes employee satisfaction, only 34 percent of business users agreed.

For the survey, Forrester asked IT workers and business users “To what extent does your organization’s IT department prioritize the following?” Nearly all the responses revealed a perception gap, including:

  • Reducing the disruption time experienced by users: 75 percent of IT practitioners said it’s a high or critical priority, while only 40 percent of business users agreed.
  • Employee productivity: 78 percent of IT workers chose high or critical priority, while only 40 percent of business users agreed.

Business users said they believe IT’s chief concern is “reducing costs”—47 percent said it’s a high or critical IT priority. However, IT workers rated it number six in a list of nine priorities.

How can IT narrow the gap?

IT workers must strive to gain an accurate understanding of users’ needs. They need to ask questions—of users and of themselves. What are we doing specifically to prioritize employee satisfaction? Do users know about these efforts? Do they find them effective?

According to the Forrester survey, IT needs to improve how it communicates with users—“seeking and receiving immediate feedback in the context of the activities end-users perform in order to better understand how to provide proactive solutions.”

IT workers must strive to gain an accurate understanding of users’ needs. They need to ask questions—of users and of themselves

Communication is critical, but it’s only step one. IT needs to follow through with solutions for users’ challenges—they must communicate and provide ongoing training, support, software coaching, and other learning opportunities. Vitalyst’s PROPEL methodology, which is underpinned by Prosci’s ADKAR model, takes a people-centric approach to technology adoption and change management. PROPEL guides business users through the four key project stages—discover, plan, adopt and empower—with a range of planning and learning solutions that are designed to drive successful projects and business outcomes.

Continuous feedback must also be a top priority—technology changes frequently, as do user needs. If an approach is not working, try something new. If a method is successful, share it across the organization and try new, similar approaches.

Constant change is now the norm, and there’s very little wiggle room for misaligned priorities. Successful outcomes are achieved when IT and business users are in step with each other.

Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.

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