How Do We Drive Technological Advances? Part I

SI tackled this subject back in 2014 in our 3-part series (Part I, Part II, and Part III) where we noted that any organization that wanted to excel in Supply Management had to master the three Ts: talent, transition (not process) and technology and focussed in on technology in particular. But, as we also noted, the technology element hasn’t changed much in the last decade. Consider the public defender‘s recent story about technology over on Spend Matters UK where he talked about a business dinner a few years ago (and by a few years, he means the conversation took place this decade) a company’s representative noted that none of the Executive Board in the firm had a computer in their office. Not only did they not have computers, or laptops, but they didn’t even use e-mail! Their PAs printed off all their emails for their bosses who wrote longhand or dictated responses for the PAs to type and send off. The company, not unexpectedly from the doctor‘s viewpoint, just went into receivership, and as far as the doctor is concerned, any company that doesn’t keep reasonably modern may soon face the same fate.

But driving technological advances is still hard. We still have an older generation that doesn’t like or trust technology and we still live in an age where over half of the world’s population has never used the internet — something most of us take for granted as part of modern daily life. (In 2017, the global population reached 7.558 Billion but the number of people who went online in the year was estimated at only 3.578 Billion, or 47.3% of the total population.)

So what do we do? Obviously we have to focus on adoption, but there’s multiple aspects to adoption. First of all, you need to

  1. get people to try it and then you need to
  2. make sure what you ask people to try is so easy, obvious, good, and valuable to them that they want to use it … so much so that after a few weeks they would get mad if you tried to take it away and have them do it the old way.

We’re finally at the point where #2 is becoming a reality where many of the best S2C/P2P/S2P platforms are really focussing on the user experience, taking cues from the best B2C and C2C sites and applications and giving users an experience that is fun and natural to them. But sometimes getting them to try it is hard. Remember, especially for the older generation, they’ve heard this story hundreds of times before — it’ll make your work faster and better and your life easier. And, over the years, they’ve tried dozens of systems that made this claim, but few, if any, have delivered and most that delivered some still had drawbacks.

If they’ve been burned over and over, and are fearful of any new technology, how do you get them to try it with an open mind and find something that will work … great? Because if they don’t even try it, they won’t adopt it, and there’s no point trying to convince their boss to buy it.