How Do We Drive REAL Technological Advances? Part III

SI first tackled this subject back in 2014 in a 3-part series (Part I, Part II, and Part III) and then returned to the subject last year (Part I and Part II) since it seems that the core technology we are using hasn’t changed much in the last decade (as er the public defender’s lament over on Spend Matters UK) and many organizations are stuck on the Supply Chain Plateau.

That’s because driving technological advances is hard. Many among the older generation are still inherently distrustful of technology (and the doctor doesn’t blame them … self-driving Carl will drive them off the cliff someday) and 45% of the world’s population still hasn’t used the internet. But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is lack of …

Adoption. Why? If people don’t adopt platforms, they don’t use technology on a daily basis. If they don’t use the platforms regularly, they don’t push the platforms. If they don’t push the platforms, they don’t figure out what they need from the platforms. And then they don’t itch for an advance from the platforms, they won’t drive for an advance.

And, as we noted, when it comes to adoption, the key is to provide users with a platform that does everything they want, including things they never thought the platform to do, but makes it so easy to do that if you tried to take the platform away from them, they’d get mad and scream.

But, as we noted before, even if you have a great platform, this doesn’t mean it will be adopted … because the users who you need to adopt it might not even try it. Not only might they be from the older generation, but they might be from the older generation that has heard the same old story about how this new tool will make their lives easier a hundred times before, only to be let down. As a result, why would they want to be let down for the 101st time?

How do you get past that? We suggested a great UX, which is key because it has to be usable, but that only helps if you can get them to try the platform … in earnest … at least once. How do you get them to do that? Our answer last time was to convince them through messaging that hit home.

But what if the messaging only works for early adopters? What if the grizzled just get fizzled? Then what do you do?

It’s a tough question without an absolute answer. But the doctor now believes that the answer is to select a platform where you can do it for them!

As an easy example, let’s say they always complain about how long T&E expense claims take and lack of visibility. If you just acquired a new T&E management platform, chances are supervisors or processors have the ability to create claims for someone else, assign it to them, route it for approvals, and then simply sell the submitter (who still uses the old Excel form) a link to “track progress and status”. When they see how much easier the system makes their life, and see that they can create the claim in the system in an Excel like interface (if they choose, or the new wizard-driven way with OCR, but totally up to them) and get this progress and status insight even faster, they are more likely to adopt.

Similarly, if you want them to use a new sourcing platform even for simple bids, show them how much easier it is to keep track on supplier status and ability, use a template for th bid, and centralize communication. Send them links to pre-created supplier management portals and reports, event templates, and so on. Offer to be their “administrator” where you do the work but they have full visibility. If the platform really is easier to use and better, they’ll see how easy it is to just take control sometime and start using it. Don’t tell them how great it is, show them.

As long as you select a platform that allows multiple roles and delegation, this is easily doable and just might make the difference.

At least it’s worth a try!