While the use and application of technology has become near ubiquitous around the world, the actual adoption of new and emerging technologies across most organizations continues to be less than optimal. Due to several barriers, tech adoption at an organizational level is often slow or even nonexistent. This keeps old legacy systems alive and hinders an organization from achieving its full potential efficiently. This lag in adoption has long been a concern for companies but now, amid a pandemic, it’s a crisis.
As businesses have been compelled to re-evaluate their business models either in part or in whole, many have adopted technology to counter difficult market conditions — making externally facing changes, such as revamping their online presence to stem slumps in revenue, or internal ones, such as automating payroll functions or using an enterprise-wide tool to keep tab of workflows to enable their teams to work effectively and productively from home.
This process of rapid transformation is being aided by technology companies, whose business models often start with getting their products into the hands of as many users as possible. Most technology innovators believe in the “democratization of technology” — making technology platforms available for free or only a nominal fee — and letting user adoption play a major role in how those products and innovations are developed. For example, with the sudden need for more online education tools, the plethora of products that Google alone offers has allowed for quick adoption and adaptation among schools and institutes and will surely inform the company’s product roadmap.
Despite this flurry of activity, we still find that technology adoption is often too slow and the lasting effects are unclear. Why is true tech adoption so difficult to achieve?
While the coronavirus has changed a lot about business, research that preceded the virus can help shed some light on this question: Published last fall and based on interviews with750 executives across Australia, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, the United States, and India, a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit identified challenges including: employee skills, lack of senior management awareness, lack of remote working opportunities, organizational culture, issues of complexity, cost and risk, and inadequate infrastructure. Plus, older, larger companies are often constrained by the presence of legacy systems and legacy approaches to innovation and problem-solving.