If you missed my first post in this series, you can check it out here. I promised to follow up with some tactical steps to help future proof your business in the Digital Age, and the first step is building and protecting your digital reputation. I know – digital reputation, you are kidding me, right? You might be thinking, all that I have ever needed is the ability to send and receive email. Maybe occasionally, store a file or two. I am totally on board – look, I have moved my email and file management tools into the cloud; I am the symbol of progress!

Is it possible those words are rattling around in your head? My guess is that you may also be the person who finds themselves perpetually buried in their inbox, wondering if things will ever change. I would say you’re not alone.

We’ve now reached a tipping point where cloud-based tools are agile and affordable, allowing us all to consider transforming our businesses for the digital age. However, this endeavor fundamentally modifies how we look at these tools. While systems still need to be implemented and deployed, the time in these development phases will be brief. Instead, your efforts will need to be focused squarely on adoption, a discipline often discussed and filled with mediocre performance and excuses. An example I’ve heard: “This is a cultural and training issue, it has nothing to do with the technology.” While the sentence may be correct, it is one of the core reasons why adoption seems to be limited to a “checkbox” for many of our strategies.

I speak from decades of experience as a CIO, our ability to transform organizations into doing business differently was generally isolated at best. Now, decades later, I still struggle with the point of it all. I feel like a dog with a bone in that I just cannot shake the challenge of getting everyone, not just early adopters and innovators, headed in the same direction. The trick has always been leveraging applications which are perceived as noncompulsory (aka valuable applications), and inspiring people to see past their perceived assumptions of applicability. Through recent experiences deploying cloud platforms, this hierarchy of digital adoption has been put to the test across a variety of business sizes. Proven time and time again, if you follow this hierarchy, succeeding at the first step before proceeding to the next, you will holistically transform your organization today, while making it future proof for tomorrow.

The Key to Your Digital Reputation Is Building Trust

So, what exactly am I referring to when I talk about a solid digital reputation? To start, I would ask you to think about a person that you know who has an excellent reputation. My guess is that your list would include characteristics such as trustworthy, reliable, helpful, and accessible. A relationship cannot advance without these behaviors; the same applies to your adoption aspirations. It is not uncommon for folks to believe the reason they subscribed to a well-known cloud platform was due to their reputation as a provider. Unfortunately, while that is important, you are miles from having your users comfortable with their new operating environment. Without a strong digital reputation, each of the subsequent digital adoption steps will become exponentially more difficult.

We all know that change management is a team sport and building or fortifying your digital reputation is no different. The only path to achieving your adoption goals is to establish trust and a sense of purpose. Generally, the applications deployed within the first phase of the hierarchy of digital adoption should be a relatively straightforward and low friction application to deploy, such as email. However, don’t get fooled by the adoption rates on this transactional system. Like Maslow’s theory, other than getting the environment “stood up,” satisfying the groups “physical needs” is nothing to write home about.

If you even remotely believe that our digital world is not flat, I encourage you to forge on in better understanding the digital hierarchy. We will build on elevating your digital reputation and allow you to proceed through the hierarchy of digital adoption, next discussing what to do when you are crippled by choice.

Greg Lush
Author

VP of Innovation at EMCOR Services Mesa Energy Systems