A laptop facing and antique typewriter - change management and technology concept
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A recent blog post from Laserfiche, citing Scott Brinker, points out that the biggest problem with using technology to drive organizational change is that the technology can change a lot faster than the people do. “Technology advances exponentially,” Brinker wrote, giving the example of Moore’s Law which states that number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. 

In contrast, organizations absorb change algorithmically that is, even more slowly than linear, and certainly much more slowly than technology, he writes. So what role does technology play in change management?

Rapid Technology Development

The biggest concern with the digital workplace today is that the technology is moving faster than people’s capacity to learn and keep up. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) offer an opportunity for organizations to capitalize on employee needs by learning behaviors and anticipating actions that need to occur and thus taking the burden out of everyday tasks. In this respect, SocialChorus CMO Alison Murdock suggest enterprises develop or use technology which, rather than making people search for their Paid Time Off balance every month, makes the information appear when (and where) employees are most likely to look based on their past engagement behavior.

But besides creating simplified workflows like the one above, when it comes to change management, technology should be used to ensure that the workforce is informed at the same time, in real-time and with information that is relevant to them, Murdock added. “It isn’t just the responsibility of the communications/HR team or the CEO to keep employees informed. In fact, managers and line-of-business leaders are also responsible for communicating news, information and changes that impact their teams,” she said.

Known as “cascade communications,” historically companies have relied on messages reaching teams by way of their managers only, which is not only slow but also as effective as a game of telephone. This is where technology can help. By having a system of record for workforce communications, personalizing and targeting information to specific groups, any leader across the organization can have a part in getting everyone on the same page.

Technology also plays a critical role in measuring the success of any change management initiative. Do the people affected by the change understand the impact? What are their questions? Do they understand next steps, and are they committed to taking the action needed? All of this can be measured with the right technology in place so organizations don’t have to guess. They know.

Related Article: Change Management: The Key to Successful Digital Transformations

Technology Drives Change

The role technology has in introducing change in the enterprise cannot be overestimated. Silos of information, content, people and processes are pervasive across most businesses. Iain Scholnick, founder and CEO of Braidio argues that in the digital age, businesses require the exact opposite — greater connectivity across these resources to deliver improved clarity, focus and agility in order to respond more quickly to the changes that digitization brings.

The problem at the moment is that many organizations are handicapped and unable to compete against more technologically agile competitors. They are trapped by systems that are too complex and take too long to implement or change. Enterprises in particular are saddled with complex, monolithic legacy technologies and applications that were often designed for very specialized needs and generally lack interoperability. “The ability to leverage change management to optimize the discovery and assembly of resources whether they be information or people in real-time can be a critical enabler of improved employee productivity,” Scholnick said.

Correct change management can help thread all the necessary information, knowledge, people and business tools into a single point of productivity. Add to that real-time collaboration tools such as live chat, voice and video calling and organizations have a killer combination and a leg up on the competition to drive success in the new world of work.

Related Article: Change Management For Digital Transformation

Change Driving Enterprise Value

Jeff Baumohl, vice president of partnership at Bonfyre, pointed out that in today’s business climate, organizations are always changing as they seek ways to drive more value for their clients and shareholders. In some cases, these changes are small and have little impact on employees, while other times there is a significant human element of change that must be well planned and executed to ensure success. “Change management is most effective when approached as a gradual process that involves frequent interactions to reshape employee behaviors and opinions,” he said. “The best way to shape those elements is by setting up touchpoints to check in with your workforce and address feedback.

Face-to-face interaction is almost always preferred, but isn’t always possible or practical, especially in large organizations that are distributed across different locations. The right technology will level the playing field by allowing every employee at an organization, no matter where or how they work, to experience the touchpoints necessary for moving them along the change curve.

The key here is leveraging the right technology for your organization and the change it is undergoing. If the technology is complicated, clunky and provides a poor user experience, it’s likely to hinder the change process rather than facilitate it. The right technology should be designed to foster and reinforce the necessary interactions that support the change process, not cause more resistance or friction.

Change Management Tools, Strategies

With over 50% of change management efforts failing, it's clear organizations aren't using the right tools or strategies to help their employees understand and adopt new ideas and practices; especially in today’s digital workplace, where employees live in a noisy environment where competing priorities are continuously being communicated. For Keith Kitani, CEO of employee engagement platform GuideSpark, too many initiatives, too much information and too much one-size-fits-all messaging causes employees to feel overwhelmed and limits their engagement with strategic change communications.

While business leaders spend a large amount of time and money communicating change, they're missing out on an opportunity to engage employees through personalized communication journeys.

In order to connect with today’s diverse, mobile-enabled workers, employers need to employ targeted communication campaigns that leverage multiple delivery channels and provide consumer-like content experiences.

The key is to personalize your approach by choosing the most appropriate and effective communication channels and content for each employee audience, without inundating anyone with irrelevant communications. It can be hard to know what is going to work best so it is important to get started and then measure effectiveness across audience segments and then iterate as you learn what is working.