8 business technology barriers and how to overcome them
For a business to survive and thrive in a competitive market, it is crucial to constantly innovate and improve. Bringing in new business technology is a vital part of this process. Without regularly investing in technology that underpins both progress and performance, businesses run the risk of lagging helplessly behind the competition.
However, bringing in new technology into the business is strewn with challenges. When you are in the process of identifying or adopting new solutions, you are likely to encounter several of the barriers listed here:
1. Issue: Sceptics in the ranks
There will always be advocates of the status quo and making the best of what is already in place. The cultural undercurrent of “This is how we do things” can be a very tough challenge to overcome. But in most cases, this resistance to the new order is based in a limited understanding of how a potential change can benefit the business.
Solution: By quantifying improvements to efficiency or revenue, you will be able to link the technology back to the key objectives of the business. It’s important to get the user base comfortable with the technology, introducing it to them early and helping them understand how it makes their roles more efficient.
2. Issue: Integration issues
Any new technology brought into the business needs to be evaluated from the perspective of existing processes and legacy technology that may be impacted. Dealing with integration as an afterthought can become very expensive!
Solution: Review your current technology map and consider how this is likely to develop in the future. Are you looking to phase out any existing platforms? Will you make changes to functions in the business, impacting how applications are used? Make sure all of these views are captured when assessing the compatibility of a new solution.
3. Issue: Budget allocation
Releasing funds for investing in technology is one of the biggest challenges for IT leaders. Budget holders are faced with the task of identifying the most beneficial allocation of money at any given time, constantly evaluating which investments will provide the best returns in the short as well as the long term.
Solution: The best way to approach negotiations is to centre the conversation on the long-term corporate strategy and how the particular solution will support it. Ensure that any proposed spend is securely anchored in the overall vision for the business.
4. Issue: Validation of investment
Another major hurdle is convincing senior management that the technology is needed. Many IT professionals feel uncomfortable when it comes to justifying decisions to executives and line of business.
Solution: Although this may always be a difficult process, it can be made easier by preparing with plenty of examples of proof of value and a clear outline of projected benefits to the business. Once the technology is in place, it’s key to get a few quick wins documented and shared. This will help to boost confidence in the solution across the business.
5. Issue: Lack of user buy-in
One of the most common challenges when implementing new technology, is getting the end user to bond with the solution. People may be questioning the reason behind a particular investment, making comments along the lines of “I don’t know why we are doing this”.
Solution: These issues can be overcome by ensuring there is a constant flow of information throughout the project, validating the technology not only to senior management but to the daily users. The end user is a very valuable ally, and it is important to quickly get advocates across the business who will champion the project. Beyond this, it is of course also very important to bear the team’s interests in mind. Functionality is critical, but so is user-friendliness!
6. Issue: Disruption concerns
Planning and scheduling an implementation of business technology is always likely to be a challenge. Line of business, management as well as clients may express concerns around how the project might affect them.
Solution: Everyone needs to be aware that there may never be such a thing as “the perfect time”, and there could always be a risk of potential disruption to the business. It’s just a case of making that disruption as small and as brief as possible. It could be necessary to trade off one disruption against another, for example considering whether to risk losing custom, upsetting existing clients or incurring additional work for staff.
7. Issue: Training
Providing training is another area which tends to be an afterthought for many organisations when deploying new technology.
Solution: The complexity of a solution should be assessed very early on in the process, to determine how users should be introduced to it. The costs and time necessary for training should be rolled into the budget and deployment plan, taking into consideration the need for customising training to various learning types, to get the best possible value from it.
8. Issue: Limited resources
The business needs to be fully aware of the requirements for not only implementing new technology but for managing it going forward.
Solution: There needs to be enough staff, with the right qualifications and with enough time available to dedicate to managing, supporting and updating the technology. This is critical to the long-term success of any IT project. Even though purchasing a platform or a set of licenses can be a major cost for a business, it’s never just one single investment point. To get optimal value from any solution, the business needs to continually invest time and effort to make it successful.