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The best digital workplace tool can never be effective if employees don't use them. Sounds obvious, and it is, but it’s true, right? Michael Graham, founder and CEO of Epilogue Systems, wrote in Forbes this month that “introducing advanced technology into an infrastructure that wasn’t necessarily built for it can cause unforeseen confusion and frustration, unless a digital transformation strategy is in place.” That means you need to be prepared because most businesses will increase their investments in digital technology over the coming year, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and DXC Technology called, “2019: The Year of Digital Decisions.”

Organizations can tackle barriers to technology adoption in the digital workplace by understanding employees' actual needs and providing comprehensive answers to the all-too-important question: Why did we need this tool in the first place? Digital workplace experts share ways organizations can better market — or champion — their own digital workplace tools not only for increased adoption, but also for employees to recognize how it makes their companies and their own work processes better.

Know the Effect on Behavior, Changes

Employees must understand up front what a digital workplace tool means beyond something they’ll need to logon to in the near future, according to Daisy Hernandez, global VP of product management and enterprise collaboration for SAP

“People have to be able to paint that picture of what it means in terms behavior or changes,” Hernandez told CMSWire when asked about digital workplace tool implementations. “It's a little bit of a journey without making it sound like it takes years. I think it starts even from the very beginning, when your company has decided there needs to be a better way [for employees to work] together.”

Related Article: Stop Focusing on Digital Workplace Adoption

Demonstrate Value Behind the Tools

Rolling out new tools in the workplace will be daunting for some employees. Employees will ask: Will this affect my ability to carry out my day-to-day tasks? If you can go beyond the standard promises like “improved efficiencies” and “time-saver,” you should be able to put your employees at ease, Hernandez said. She cited the example of understanding company values. Most employees, she said, won’t disagree with the standard values like customers first, etc. However, taken down another level, companies need to describe what those values actually mean. Can you give examples? What are the current processes you have and what do you want to improve? 

Treat Internal Operations Like Customers

The first thing you should do championing your digital workplace tool is to treat your employees as if you’re talking to your customers, according to Monika Fahlbusch, chief people officer at JUUL Labs (Editor’s Note: Fahlbusch spoke with CMSWire while she was at her last company, BMC Software, where she was chief employee experience officer). What does your company do for customer initiatives? Probably look at your total addressable market to understand the opportunities. Get a strong sales and engineering team in place. Produce some analytics for market-facing teams. Why not apply those strategies to the digital workplace and your employees?

“What’s the pain that this customer is going through?” Fahlbusch said. “The best way to sell them software is to address a known pain." Gathering this data for your employees — like you do with your customers — will effectively encourage digital workplace tool adoption because you will have already addressed the employees' pain with your new tool or tools. “Adoption will really solve itself because you can come along as the hero and say, ‘You know all that stuff you were telling us that’s broken and so painful? Here is the solution,'" Fahlbusch said. "If only we treated internal operations like our customers and external operations.”

Related Article: Digital Workplace Key Performance Indicators: Looking Beyond Adoption 

Encourage Success-Story Sharing

Don’t let success stories from your digital workplace tool usage go to waste. Encourage wins to be shared throughout your network, Hernandez said. And it’s not just about teams sharing where they were able to improve processes. It’s those teams, perhaps originally in a pilot setting, later helping other areas of the company do the same. Those teams can see the value of the new tool and then come up with scenarios for other departments and where their success can be applied. It could lead to company-wide culture change, according to Hernandez.

Remember Why You’re There in the First Place

Above all, remember the initial push for the new tool in your digital workplace. Revisit the original pain points often and be accountable for roll out problems. “I've been a part of many implementations where we needed to call a timeout and ask why are we doing this,” Fahlbusch said. “To whose benefit is this, and do we even have the resources to do it? The beauty of today's technology is that we all have access to more and more insights and intelligence [that allow us to] get a clearer understanding of what our pain points are.”