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March 18, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Driving Adoption of Valuable Software Applications

March 18, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Driving Adoption of Valuable Software Applications


By Greg Lush

If you’ve missed my earlier posts in this series on digital adoption, you can read here what we discussed about The Hierarchy of Digital Adoption, Building and Fortifying Your Digital Reputation, and How to Avoid Being Crippled by Choice.

There is no doubt that, in the business world, not all software applications are created equal. Take for instance your transactional systems, email, accounting, etc. These applications are designed, configured (sometimes customized), implemented, and deployed. Notice that adopted was not once mentioned. Transactional applications, or anything that is repeated with limited user-choices, once trained is quickly institutionalized. On the other hand, when you look at valuable applications, all the other software which is not transactional, the path to success is a bit different. All the steps discussed for the transactional system are the same with the addition of adoption at the end of the cycle. Some equate transactional systems to those required by the business, while the valuable applications are left as optional. And so, the struggle begins with prioritizing these valuable applications and inspiring folks to leverage their power.

Many schools of thought exist regarding how change occurs within an organization. Depending upon the company a top-down approach, grass roots movement, or frankly a combination of both will lead to success. There is one thing in common regardless of change management style: people need to believe in the mission. Belief is a tricky thing, you must have credibility and the trust of your community. Yet, it goes much deeper than that and falls back to that simple adage, “lead by example.” While many would agree that you yourself must be a practitioner, it is not always that simple. Imagine for a moment that you are a branch manager responsible for hundreds of employees and tens of thousands in annual revenue. Now you are presented with this vast landscape of a cloud platform. Down deep inside you know this is the direction you must travel; however, running a business and learning a new toolset is a tall order. Thus, like many things we reprioritize those which are the foggiest from our perspectives and hesitate to socialize these tools with any zeal. Not to mention, have you seen the breadth of most of the cloud platform offerings? A lot of choices and too many possibilities.

Deployment Vs. Adoption

So, we come back to that idea of deployment or adoption. If you are hell-bent on maintaining your approach as you did with transactional systems, save yourself some time and don’t worry about all the other cloud platform possibilities. Yet if you have gotten this far my guess is your interest is to see what’s beyond that digital horizon. I strongly believe that adoption is 80 percent resolve. Depending upon the individual, they may resolve to use a valuable application immediately or wait for others to go first, and both are totally acceptable. Your mission, if you accept it, is to get everyone to their “aha” moment as quickly as possible. Once individuals “get it” you will be amazed at how much faster your adoption efforts proceed. One of the tools that we have used to help reduce anxiety, as the result of the unknown, is named a transformation cycle.

Transformation cycles are loosely defined as a visualization of a business’s progress from the introduction of a valuable application to that software solution reaching the “plateau productivity.” This single page diagram is highly effective as it allows the organization’s leadership to dictate the path and visually see its progress. As an added benefit the transformation cycle diagrams are used to communicate direction and progress to all the employees. This process goes back to anything you have read regarding change management 101, it creates a mechanism allowing the leaders to be in the driver’s seat of their digital transformation. Odds are, as you stay within the digital reputation quadrant of the Lush’s hierarchy of digital adoption, your transformation cycles will be occupied mostly by valuable applications actual names. As you will discover when we discuss contextual computing, your transformation cycle will evolve from showing valuable applications to displaying transformation elements (business scenarios). The transformation cycle is made up of the following components:

Start with an X-Y axis diagram, where the X axis represents time and the Y axis represents expectations.

From left to right place five sections and one line of colors;

  1. innovation candidate (trigger): this is where additional items are added to the transformation cycle diagram.
  2. peak of engaged enthusiasm: during your adoption cycle this will be the highest energy point, unfortunately as you can see the time which you will spend in this cycle will be the shortest.
  3. leveraging leadership: I like to think of this as the first step in the trough of disillusionment. This is the point in the transformation cycle where your culture will lead the technology, not vice versa.
  4. on-ramp to mainstream: designed to make you think of an on-ramp to a freeway it’s time to kick it into gear as you begin to transition your community to form digital habits based on the solutions that you are driving through the transformation cycle.
  5. plateau of productivity: congratulations, if you are here you obviously cleared the trough of disillusionment, the combination of leveraging leadership and on-ramp to mainstream.  You should be proud as you have taken a valuable application or element and made an indelible mark on your organization. Be careful not to set your expectations too high as there is a stark difference between the time required to deploy and that to drive full adoption.
  6. colors at the bottom of the chart: when you meet with the organization’s leadership at some frequency (preferably more than once per quarter), that team will commit to you their timeline to move the transformation cycle circle across to the plateau of productivity. Sometimes the circle will move forward and sometimes will move backwards, either way the important aspect is the local leadership is driving the bus.