In the last few decades, new technology has radically changed the way companies operate, enabling them to become more efficient, access new markets, and improve the customer experience. New technology adoption has become increasingly important for companies, as evidenced by a study through Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Sloan Management Review, which found that a strong percentage of business leaders believe that digital transformation is critical to the success of their companies. On the operational side of technology adoption, another study found that 42 percent of respondents believed their productivity levels were significantly impacted by technology that facilitates easy and rapid access to information.
Digital transformation can lead to a wide range of benefits for companies, but technology adoption is often dependent on employees’ ability to adapt to change and integrate new tools in the workplace. While technologically savvy employees can help advance digital transformation, superior tech skills aren’t always necessary if employees have other soft skills that contribute to a digitally agile workplace.
Below are some of the soft skills that companies and employees can cultivate in order to successfully adopt new technology and achieve digital transformation:
Most people agree that it takes skill and flexibility to learn a new software or digital tool. Although tech enthusiasts might enjoy the process, other employees can find it difficult to learn a new platform, especially when it replaces longstanding tools and methods.
Playfulness is one of the most important soft skills employees need during the technology adoption process, according to tech writer Alexandra Samuel in an article for the Harvard Business Review. Samuel explains that companies are more able to implement new technologies in the workplace when employees explore technology with a playful attitude and humor. To encourage playfulness, companies can focus on choosing technologies that are user-friendly, approachable, or even relevant to employees’ personal lives.
The ability to learn new technology also revolves around employees’ learning styles. For example, one employee might learn best by watching instruction videos or by reading manuals, whereas another employee might need someone to walk them through a new technology in person. Companies can help decrease the tech learning curve by offering diverse support systems and learning opportunities.
As digital communication becomes more prevalent, it’s also crucial for employees to be able to communicate effectively through online channels, such as email. In her article, Samuel points out that employees who communicate well in person or over the phone are often too verbose or too curt in email correspondence.
By delivering resources and workshops on digital communication tools, companies can help employees become better online communicators, which can reduce the chances of misunderstanding and increase communication efficiency. Samuel also suggests that companies be open to different online communication styles and show employees how to effectively move communications offline if confusion or conflict arise.
Innovative businesses are increasingly adopting technologies that allow employees to collaborate and communicate more easily. For these tools to help a business, employees must be willing to use them to share information like documents and data.
Samuel notes that even the best sharing platforms can’t increase productivity and foster progress if employees hoard information, ignore the platform, or lack trust in the system. When implementing collaborative technologies, Samuel recommends that companies reward team efforts and build trust to encourage sharing.
After introducing a new software or platform in the workplace, even the slightest frustration or technical malfunction can affect employees’ willingness and ability to fully adopt the technology. Many companies have designated IT people to handle such issues, but reliance on an IT person can stall a team member’s productivity and even leave them without a solution for days.
Instead, Samuel says that it’s better to teach employees how to independently overcome basic challenges with both new and existing technologies. For instance, companies can show team members how to research an error message and more accurately describe issues, which can also lead to better IT solutions.
With the advent of the digital world and the global economy, companies and employees often feel pressure to adopt the newest technologies in order to stay relevant and efficient. Most people, however, only use technologies that actually deliver results and help them realize goals.
During the technology introduction process, Samuel recommends that companies tell employees exactly how the technology will address problems, create solutions, and improve situations. Team members should also outline goals that the software or tool can help them achieve.
If a new technology does produce positive results, another Harvard Business Review article suggests that companies quickly highlight the success, while emphasizing how the technology has helped the company and the individual user. This strategy can help convince employees that the technology is useful and stimulate further adoption.
In many cases, employees will more readily adopt a new technology when the influencers at the company support the technology, and especially when those influencers are also strong performers. Companies should focus on getting these people to champion the technology and explain the benefits to others.