Drive up New Technology Adoption Rates in Your Business

Mandy Movahhed
June 3, 2014

This is a note to salespeople—or their friends in IT— looking to use new technology to help them automate a process, and to salespeople looking to sell technology to help their customers. When it comes to technology adoption, there’s a cost for complexity. Simply put, simplicity is better. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), an information systems theory of acceptance and use of technology, says that acceptance is dependent primarily on two things: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. It acknowledges that attitude plays a role too. People who don’t want to make changes will resist. Perceived usefulness depends on how clearly the technology benefits are articulated and map to the customer’s pain. The project sponsor or ‘buyer’ is the first gatekeeper here. Perceived ease of use will depend on the user, of course, and if the buyer is not the user but is savvy, they will explore how adoption will be influenced in the organization. It’s important to consider who the buyer and user are. In wholesale sales, we’ve seen that IT or sales is the buyer or project driver, and the user, of course, the sales rep and the customer service manager. The more intuitive the technology, and correspondingly, the less time a user needs to spend to learn it, the higher adoption rates tend to be. (Click here for a list of tech recommendations for sales reps).

How to Drive Up New Technology Adoption Rates in Your Business

Get it right.

It’s important for technology companies to get the design of the initial user experience right, and that means understanding who the user is and what perception might they have. The role of technology is often the automation of one or more processes for productivity improvement. Users will need to see that the change is worth the effort, or, as TAM puts it, acceptance depends upon what we think it can do for us and what we think the cost is to learn it. In a recent Baseline magazine article on customer experience, the author noted that Amazon looks at its processes, like ordering from the website, with a mindset of “anticipation and prevention.” They want to stop the customer service call before it happens. That’s smart design and mirrors the TAM model’s idea that ease of use is top of mind.

How simplicity can influence adoption rates.

Recently we talked with the head of IT at an eyewear company whose sales force needed to break up with paper. He wanted to revamp the old process, get rid of the fax machine, and eliminate duplicate processes. He liked our technology’s options, but in the end, a crucial part of his decision was not just the head-to-head comparison of software utility, but on how quickly he could integrate and how thoroughly he could get his reps to adopt the new technology. Based upon his research, he was able to determine that his onboarding process for his employees would be quick, leading to a faster and more thorough adoption “The threshold to entry was so easy,” he said.  “I spent 25 minutes a person for 80 reps.” An IT manager for a major international gift company acknowledged that adoption was important to him as well, as he has a small staff and limited time. “With training and intuitive design, our users adopted quickly. This hasn’t always been the case in the past.” It was important to him to see that his efforts would quickly yield the results his company expected. With a wealth of information available online, today's technology buyers are in control of more of their buying journey than ever before, but the journey doesn’t stop when you've inked the contract. In an ode to the TAM, remember to consider how the ultimate users of your chosen technology perceive the usefulness and ease of use. Making it clear and simple might just make the difference. Do you have experience with any good, bad or ugly technology deployments? What made the difference?