It’s a fact of the IT life that technology has a finite lifespan and it’s tough to manage change in technology. Procuring new software and hardware is only half the battle. The other half falls under what happens next and runs the gamut from integration to accessibility to security. This part gets tricky.
Need help? Here are 7 of the most common challenges you’ll face when you manage change during a technology transition, and how to deal with them.
1) Cultural Pushback
IT pros think about the nuts and bolts of new technology implementation from beginning to end, including how to manage . Front-line workers care how a new CRM or analytics tool is going to affect their daily job. IT teams need to communicate why a switchover is happening, the business benefits behind it, and what great things it means to the user. Your best bet is to get them prepared, over-communicate and stay on schedule. Make sure employees and executives alike have had every opportunity to learn what to expect when the transition goes live.
2) Handling Hype
When you manage change in technology you need to manage any hype attached to it. Look at artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Given their cultural appeal, many users have extremely high expectations and are often disappointed at the end results. And with respect to the current direction of AI development, according to Hackaday, it’s unlikely that devices will ever live up to expectations. Instead, a “new definition of intelligence” may be required.
In another example, consider the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a new OS such as Windows 10. Some users may want to upgrade to a new OS right away, but we know that an OS switch requires a plethora of testing, such as testing application compatibility and that some of the most important updates for a new OS take at least few months to release.
So what does this mean for IT pros during a tech transition? It means being clear about exactly what new tech will (and won’t) deliver, and communicating this to everyone.
3) Failure Can Happen
Things don’t always go as planned. In some cases new technology can actually make things worse. A recent article from The Independent notes that particulate filters introduced to curb NO2 emissions from vehicles actually had the opposite effect. The same goes for IT. If you are working on a new implementation that is unproven or risky, start small and consider it an A/B test outside the DMZ instead of a big bomb you have to somehow justify blowing up.
4) Risky ROI
While companies love to talk about ROI and technology going hand-in-hand, software-driven revenue is “mostly fiction,” according to Information Week. Bottom line? The more a solution costs to build or buy, the more you’ll need to invest in organizational redesign and retraining. In other words, technology does not operate in a vacuum.
5) Prepare for People
What happens when technology doesn’t work as intended? Employees and executives will come looking for answers. The fastest way to lose their confidence is by clamming up and refusing to talk about what happened or what’s coming next. It may not be worth breaking down the granular backend for them. Being prepared with a high-level explanation and potential timeline for restoration goes a long way toward instilling patience.
6) Lost in Translation
It’s easy for even simple messages to get garbled on their way up the management chain. Before, during and after the implementation of new technology, clarity is your watchword. Short, basic responses in everyday language to tech-oriented questions have the lowest chance of changing form from one ear to the next. You also don’t need to tell all the details. Just tell your users what they need to know. Providing too much information can be harmful and lead to confusion even if they think they understand.
7) It’s Not Fair
Guess what? Even when things are beyond your control, you’re still shouldering the blame. And because new technology implementation never goes exactly as planned, it’s good to have a backup plan. Say you’re rolling out IPv6 support for your website but things aren’t going well; you need an IPv4 reserve in your back pocket to ensure file transfers and page-load times don’t increase your bounce rate or tick off internal staff.
Unfortunately, “it’s not my fault” doesn’t apply in IT, as often as you feel you can say so. On the hook for managing change in technology? Chances are you’ll face at least one in this difficult dozen on the road to effective implementation.