The democratization of information technology (IT) can radically improve an organization’s performance.
The more employees who have access to IT, after all, the more value they will contribute to the organization.
Yet there are challenges that must be overcome.
IT is not easy to distribute and employees themselves do not always have the capabilities to use new tools and technology.
Below, we’ll look at a few of the challenges associated with digital adoption and the democratization of IT – then we’ll cover a few ways to overcome these challenges.
3 Barriers to the Democratization of Information Technology (IT)
Here are some of the most common barriers to adopting IT in the workplace.
1. Employee resistance
There are several reasons for this, many of them having to do with fear. For instance, employees can resist technology because:
- They are afraid of failure
- They are afraid they will perform inadequately
- They are afraid of disciplinary action
- They’re afraid their jobs will be displaced by software
The democratization of technology, however, often benefits employees. Explaining those benefits is one of the best ways to minimize resistance.
Explain benefits such as:
- Career benefits, such as marketability
- Increased skills and credibility
- Staying future-proofed against automation
- Workplace benefits, such as simplified workflows
Communicating those benefits is often one of the best ways to overcome employee resistance. For example, if an employee knows how a tool will benefit their career, then they will want to support and adopt that tool.
2. Executive buy-in
Executive sponsorship – or a lack thereof – is another obstacle to many business initiatives, including the democratization of it.
Obtaining sponsorship is therefore a top priority for any advocate of it democratization.
To obtain that sponsorship and support, begin by assessing potential objections.
These can include:
- Not understanding the value of IT democratization
- A lack of data
- A lack of time
When presenting any proposal, including a digital adoption strategy, it is important to make a business case. That is, make an argument that is based on ROI, data, and a solid strategy.
Most crucially, you should demonstrate the benefits of IT democratization.
- Increased workforce agility
- Greater efficiency
- Greater ROI from software investments
- Improved organizational performance
Whenever making any sales argument, such as a proposal to an executive, it is important to customize the message to your target audience – learn their language, understand their goals, then construct your benefits to address those needs.
A CFO, for example, would be interested in finances and costs. A CIO will be more interested in IT operations, digital business strategies, and IT in general. Product developers would be interested in innovation.
Also, demonstrate a willingness to take a hands-on role in a change project. Demonstrating one’s own commitment will go a long way towards earning the trust of one’s superiors.
3. The digital skills gap
A lack of digital skills can be a cause for resistance. The skills gap can also decrease employee performance and inhibit innovation.
These roadblocks can ultimately impact an IT democratization program.
Learning new things is often challenging, after all, and many prefer not to learn new things, especially if they see little value in it. This is why it is useful to explain the benefits of digital adoption, as mentioned above.
Yet this still does not solve the issue of the digital skills gap.
Employee training is a good solution to that problem: implementing training and a culture of learning can reduce resistance that stems from a lack of skills.
Another way to avoid resistance is by hiring employees with a pro-learning mindset. These employees will be more adaptable and ready to adopt new technology.
Tips for Democratizing IT Efficiently
Here are a few tips for mitigating risks and streamlining the process of IT democratization.
- Tackle the objectives mentioned above. That is, create an employee training program, create a pro-learning culture, minimize resistance, and gain support from executives.
- Assess the state of your workforce. Use technology acceptance questionnaires to understand employees’ mindsets. Assess skill levels. And identify pain points and potential points of resistance. This type of information will be useful when creating an IT democratization strategy.
- Collaborate with key business leaders to develop an implementation plan. The insights gained from your assessments should enable you to create a targeted plan for your own needs. That plan should be built upon a goal-oriented strategy that addresses the obstacles mentioned above.
- Stay agile. Put data collection mechanisms in place and use those to continually assess your performance. Stay in contact with employees, stakeholders, customers, and executives. Use that information and adjust your program as needed.
- Build a coalition of supporters. Find like-minded individuals and create a change team who supports your goals. Work with them to create an agenda and persuade others of the value of your program.
The democratization of technology can significantly improve employees’ skills and the value they contribute to the organization.
As we have seen, however, it is not easy to adopt technology or digital-first business paradigms. Simply proposing a new project is not enough. Instead, you must persuade others of the value of that proposal, earn support, and work carefully to achieve your goals.Successfully accomplishing your IT democratization agenda can significantly add significant value to your organization, from improving performance to increasing organizational resilience to boosting bottom-line profits.