Software and apps for our mobile devices have become essential components in our everyday lives. Despite some discomfort during implementation, adopting digital tools helps managers and staff members communicate, collaborate and deliver the best possible customer experience.
Discover how you can conquer the fear of adopting new technology:
While it’s exciting and exhilarating for many people, rapid evolution of technology has left some individuals and their organizations feeling cold. The pace continues to quicken and, as a result, the resistance or unwillingness to make necessary fundamental changes has increased, especially for smaller business owners and entrepreneurs with small staffs.
The reasons for their skepticism are not unwarranted. Botched adoption attempts in the past, inadequate training for front-line staff, poor top-down communication and more can result in a serious fear of the organization’s next software purchase or upgrade.
If you or someone you know has experienced this, the prospect of introducing new tools to your day-to-day shouldn’t hold you or your organization back emotionally. By learning to overcome that fear of the unknown and seeing the positives instead of the negatives, technology adoption can be far less agonizing than you think.
Let’s break it down!
Understand What Causes Your Fear
Despite how it may feel in the moment, the fear of adopting new technology is a common occurrence. Lots of business owners and their staff don’t want to inject uncertainty into their already-hectic days – I mean, who can blame them?
The important part here is pinpointing the “why” in all of this. What reason(s) are holding your organization back from taking the leap and introducing a new app into everyone’s respective workflows? Some of the most common ones I’ve heard include:
- The price of the product or service (specifically that it’s too high);
- Inexperience with new technology/software;
- Concerns about training and integration;
- Concerns about the implementation time commitment; and
- A preference for taking the “safe bet” of an existing setup or less-complex option.
Even if it boils down to the “safe bet” angle, it’s okay to feel that way. You know your organization’s strengths and weaknesses better than someone on the outside looking in. You must be honest with yourself and your business’ unique set of needs, wants and desires.
The important takeaway is to understand why you and your staff feel a certain way and, when it comes to adopting new technology, to ensure any decisions are being made for the right reasons. Learning from mistakes is one thing – not trying is a totally different animal.
Self-Education Goes a Long Way
If you feel like you just don’t have enough knowledge about new technology to even contemplate a new purchase in the short-term, I have good news: learning about exciting new apps is easier than ever
Not only is that information easier to get your hands on but most tech vendors are putting an even greater emphasis on the user experience. In other words, digital tools may be getting more complex and offering denser collections of features, but that doesn’t mean they’re also more difficult to grasp or use.
How do you grow your understanding of new technology without it becoming a second full-time job? Try some of these handy learning avenues:
- Read blog articles, news updates and product reviews from repeatable online sources;
- Visit vendor websites and get to know the different products and how they differ from one another;
- See what others in your industry (including your competition) are doing tech-wise;
- Learn what platforms are widely-used and which ones are obsolete;
- Reach out to someone who knows IT if you need help understanding specific terms; and
- Don’t be afraid to take an online or in-person course for the software you’re adopting.
Remember that learning is also an ongoing experience. If you consistently dig into it a little bit more each day, you’ll be amazed at how steep your learning curve will become.
Read Product Reviews from Other Users
The crucial next step in overcoming a fear of adopting new technology is reading or listening to product reviews from other consumers.
Getting a list of features or benefits from a vendor website or short breakdown video from a tech expert is one thing. Finding out what others in your industry have to say about a product or service will provide you with insight you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
Combing through online user reviews or chatting with another buyer about their experience is can also be a great tool when it comes to assuaging any fears you have about technology adoption. For a balanced approach to this step, be sure to do the following:
- Do your homework before making a purchase. With more and more software solutions becoming subscription-based, there’s little room for buyer’s remorse;
- Get a taste for both positive and negative online user reviews. Don’t let bad reviews scare you either – depending on how old they are, the vendor may have addressed them already; and
- Ask users more detailed questions about a piece of technology if you need to. You’ll get an unfiltered answer that can help inform your decision-making.
We live in a world where star ratings and user reviews for products and services are ubiquitous. Doing your due diligence and taking all those ground-floor opinions into consideration ensures that you’ll have a well-rounded view of the latest tech on the market.
Take Advantage of Demos and Free Trials
Once you’ve exhausted your educational reading and watching material online, it’s time to move on to arguably the most important step of this entire journey: using demos and/or free trials.
Just as you wouldn’t purchase a vehicle with test-driving it first, software and other technology for your organization is no different. Both would be used every day to carry out important tasks so, regardless of price, you need to be totally comfortable being signing on the dotted line.
Demos, which consist of a live or pre-taped guided walkthrough of a solution, differ from free trials, which let you test out a version of a software without any financial commitment for a limited time. Both are extremely valuable, as they allow you to:
- Get critical hands-on experience with all available software options;
- Go through the motions of implementation to understand the platform on a deeper level;
- Refine and further inform notions concerning your organization needs and wants in a digital tool; and
- Acquire the know-how to make better tech-related decisions down the road
Most demos and free trials don’t require a huge time commitment either, so there’s no excuse to be avoiding these opportunities when they’re presented to you. Put your fears aside and let the test drive(s) speak for themselves!
Make Decisions Based on Data, Not Emotion
This is an area that I’ve seen a lot of organizations struggle with over the years. While it can be hard to divorce emotion from the decision-making process completely, it’s important to let facts and data-driven insight do the heavy lifting.
If you’ve done your research, read reviews and tested out some demos and/or free trials, then you have more than enough objective evidence to support a new technology purchase (or not). Usage habits, comfort zones or any other subjective interjections will only harden that resistance and fear you’re trying to overcome.
Here are some tips to help you avoid going off-track when making tech adoption decisions:
- Organizational growth must be at the center of the conversation. It will help keep everyone’s train of thought clear-eyed and grounded in logic;
- Focus on black-and-white commitments. This includes implementation and training hours, hardware specifications and more; and
- Realize that price is only part of the equation here. You need to make sure you’re getting value for the money you’re spending.
I’ve said it before on this blog but it bears repeating here: Adopting a new software or digital tool should be looked at as an investment instead of simply an expense. That way, the discussion shifts to value acquired instead of money spent.
Know That You Already Have Tech Adoption Experience
Fear of new technology is, in most cases, a fear of the unknown. How will this affect the way I do business? How will this affect my daily workload?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the “unknown” in this case is a fallacy. In fact, most business professionals I know are already using a lot of updated technology in their everyday lives outside of the office – it’s just a matter of transferring those skills to their workplace.
Home computing systems, smart TVs, smartphones, smart speakers, electronic thermostats – the list goes on and on. Most staff members at any organization already possess the basic knowledge needed to download, implement and use new apps effectively.
This perceived gap in expertise is often at the root of continual resistance from other staff members when it comes to upgrading tech tools. To get past this, just ask them about their own personal experiences with using software, etc. and determine what their biggest concerns are. If those objections circle back to this fear of the unknown, you’ll be able to show them how easily that emotional gap can be bridged.
Change is Inevitable – Growth and Evolution are Voluntary
Finally, I want to leave you with one of my everlasting mantras when it comes to adopting new technology:
Realize that change is inevitable – the progress you and your staff make in that environment is voluntary.
As software and online tools continue to evolve at such a rapid pace, more frequent technological changes are inevitable. Your organization cannot avoid getting caught up in that change, which means the minimum standard from a tech perspective will keep shifting regardless of your comfort level with new systems.
The critical mistake lots of professionals make is thinking that what they have now will continue to serve them well, in the same way, and with the same level of productivity, for years to come. The truth is, the life span of software could be as short as 5 years today, which means your organization must be ready to pivot to newer, more robust solutions when the time comes.
Is this an uncomfortable reality for management? For sure. Does facing that discomfort head-on lead to bigger and better things? You bet.
The best players in any industry are the ones who embrace that inevitable change and don’t fight it. It allows the true innovators to stand out and get ahead of the technological curve, instead of feeling trapped and suffocated in its center.
If you can capitalize on those opportunities and use new technology to not only progress but become a leader in your marketplace, then that fear of the unknown is negated. New software, mobile apps and other tech tools aren’t the bogeymen hiding under your bed, so put your faith in what they can do for you instead of shrinking back in terror. Your business will thank you.
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