Book Success With The Adoption of Digital Tools

Book Success With The Adoption of Digital Tools - Digital marketing

Almost every organization is currently working on a certain form of digitization. Increasingly, this digitization relates to the employees themselves. After all, they have to start working in a different way. This is often because new solutions are made available such as Office365, new (business) applications or a social intranet. All these digital tools are intended to contribute to improving productivity and/or smarter collaboration. That is the goal, but whether that works …

We see that many organizations now see the need to go along with the digital transformation. The wishes and requirements of the new tool are recorded and based on those wishes and requirements a working solution is put down. The project is ‘successful.’

But, the pain is that the solution is ultimately too often not used or not enough. Employees still too often have to work differently, without having enough appropriate support. Sounds familiar in the ears, right?

Professionals see the need to think of users.

It is nothing new by now that we can not just implement new digital tools with a technical push. Then suddenly a new tool will be installed, without the end-users actively hearing about it and being accompanied and involved. In short, professionals see the need to think from ‘how we solve things for end users.’ They increasingly realize that the user is central, we have to communicate about the ‘why’ and that the design and functionalities are meaningful and relevant to the end user.

In short, professionals see the need to think from ‘how we solve things for end users.’

In a blog from the precision marketing group, organizations that focus on the perception of end users make up 60% more sales. Nevertheless, they describe that relatively few organizations are freeing up the budget to spend on ‘adoption’ and user experience of the new tool. 37% of all organizations see the urgency and release a budget to introduce a new digital tool from the end users.

We clearly see the ‘pain’ when the new tool is not used. A lot of time and budget has been invested in a working tool, but the tool has not (enough) contributed to being more productive or working smarter.

Also interesting: Digital transformation is about people

All in all, the central question remains: ‘How can we ensure that end-users want the new system, but can and will continue to use it? In this article, I will take you into a method – the Maturity Model – that helps answer these questions.

Adoption is more than just a training.

There are many aspects that play a role in ’embracing’ a new digital tool. The technique must be in order, the system must also be user-friendly, the right content must be present, and the content must be relevant and up-to-date. But the functionalities of the tool must also match the wishes of the end users.

These end users are faced with certain frustrations, and we want the new system to solve these frustrations for them. That is not even everything, because the communication must be in line with the organizational culture and the end user must also receive the right guidance and support that suits them. That is a complete list!

Previously, we thought that training or support would be sufficient, but that is already outdated. If employees do not know why they have to switch to a new tool or do not know what to do with it, there are only a few people who will figure this out themselves. The rest of the employees prefer to continue working in the old way. Adoption is, therefore, a continuous process in which you continue to respond to the organizational culture and the employees. Both before and after going live with the new software.

Adoption is, therefore, a continuous process in which you continue to respond to the organizational culture and the employees.

Employees with different attitudes towards change

In order to achieve the final result, namely successful use of the new tool by the intended target group, we recognize that there is no one size fits all. We have different groups of people who have a different attitude towards change. The innovation theory of Rogers that comes from marketing describes the terms innovators, early adopters, and laggards. These terms also fit well in the adoption of new digital tools. You want to use the available resources and activities as efficiently as possible, and any guidance is easy.

The maturity model as a guide for working towards success

The maturity model – a model that has been set up from practical experience and, among other things, Rogers’ theory – helps to gradually work towards successful use of the new system, by 80 to 85% of the end users in the organization. In the model (see image) a distinction is made between 3 types of attitudes of employees during a change process:

  • The enthusiasts: the front runners (10-15%)
  • The slightly awaited: the followers (30-35%)
  • The creatures of habit: the stragglers (30-35%)

Every change trajectory differs in the target, the size, the impact and the target group (s). Yet in every change, you can identify the different types of people, each with their own attitude towards change. The Maturity Model responds to these types of people.

With every change and in every organization you hear statements like:

‘I would like to see a demo!’
‘If there are teething problems, I do not want to work with it.’
“I like to think.”
“I will continue to work the old way as long as possible.”
‘First, I want to be convinced and understand how it works.’
“What is expected of me?”
“Why do I have to work with this?”

Recognizable statements?

Types of end users

Where one end user likes to think along, to participate and is enthusiastic (the leader), the other person gets in the resistance when they hear that a change is coming (laggard). This end user wants to get used to it. Where one end user wants clarity and only then becomes convinced (follower), the other person needs more personal support and attention (laggard). Besides, one cuts off to teething troubles in the system (follower), while the other kinks off because the go-live is constantly being postponed (leader).

Unconscious assumptions

Arend Ardon writes in Breakthrough the circle (aff.) That we have unconscious assumptions about change. Managers think that we should be open and honest with our employees, but when it comes down to this, they are often not at all. We also unconsciously think that the older generation has difficulty changing and that the young generation is enthusiastic.

Furthermore, we think that we convince every one of the change in the same way. Unconsciously, we assume that if we continue to communicate and engage, we make all our employees realize that the new system offers advantages over the current way of working. Nothing is less true.

Throughout the organization, from department to the team, management to employees and between young and old, there are people with different attitudes towards change. You must address these groups of people in a different way and involve them in the change. Again, one size does not fit all!

Why does the maturity model help your organization?

The right approach, the right people, the right resources

You can not change the whole organization at once. The model is not only based on the different types of people that you have to take into account in a different way but also describes the monthly activities and resources that are required to ultimately work towards success.

For the adoption of your new tool, for example, it is essential to constantly inform stakeholders about the purpose and roadmap of the process. It is also important to describe the benefits from end users to address them in the right way. Later in your adoption process – if you have convinced the front runners (enthusiasts), share your success stories and experiences of this group with other colleagues.

These activities and resources play in and are in line with the different attitudes of employees towards change. At each stage, you address a different group (the leaders, the followers, and the laggards). You then know how to use the right activities and resources effectively, and you speak to the right people.

I have already mentioned it, but do not try to convince everyone at once. That just does not work. At the beginning of the change, focus on the enthusiasts in the organization, the front-runners. Make them enthusiastic and put the leaders in their hands to convince their colleagues. They are happy to do that. The more awaited followers only want to join the change when there is more clarity. The stragglers do not join until the old is no longer there, and they receive personal guidance. You actively involve them after the frontrunners and followers are convinced.

Measuring is knowing

The maturity model also assumes that you continue to measure during your change process, to keep track of whether you have achieved the set goals. The first measurement is a baseline measurement, which helps to determine when the new tool is a success. Progress will continue to be measured and will not end when the project ends.

The measuring methods take place approximately three, six and nine months after going live. Think of quantitative and qualitative measurements of meaningful use of the tool, appreciation of employees and the contribution to organizational objectives.

By measuring you constantly remain aware of the progress of the process and you can stay in conversation with the management. You see which activities you have or have not already performed and you see in the statistics how many percents of the users are already active in the use of the new tool.


Do you want to get started right away with the maturity model? These tips help you on your way:

Do not immediately focus on the entire organization, but look for enthusiasts. Set up a plan on how to hold these enthusiasts and later on to get other colleagues involved in the changes. You can think of a reward for their dedication (such as a   writing course), a competition or nice goodies, such as a chocolate bar or a thank you card. Set goals (SMART) and determine the ambition of the new tool. You can think of ambitions such as: ‘internal file sharing is facilitated in (time) with (X)%’ or ‘the valuation of the information on [name tool] has increased in [time] with (X) %’.
Determine measurement moments and the way in which you continue to measure these goals. Think of methods such as surveys, polls or statistics. Extra tip: summarize these objectives and ambition in a poster that helps you convince management.
The use of resources and activities is not an end in itself, but a tool. Make sure you choose resources and activities based on organizational culture, habits and target groups.

Ensure that time and budget are released from the management. Without the management’s support, the process becomes a difficult job.

I’m curious, what does the digital transformation and adoption of digital tools look like to you? Do you already play on the different types of end users?