We’ve got some news for you — you should probably go back to school and study neuroscience.
Why? Because it could hold the key to overcoming common digital adoption obstacles. That and psychology. Both disciplines are about understanding the human brain and how it controls our behaviors.
So if you want employees or customers to change or update their digital behaviors, you need to find out how their brains work.
The science behind digital adoption
Digital adoption is a process of change. And the biggest threat to change is resistance.
It follows then that employee (or customer) resistance is one of the biggest digital adoption obstacles enterprises must face.
But there’s more to it than that. Resistance doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s the outcome of complex psychological (and neurological) processes that happen when humans are faced with change.
Mona Fishbane, a clinical psychologist, writes about the way our feelings impact our brains, calling them evolutionary processes for survival.
The human brain has around 100 billion neurons and there are trillions of synaptic connections between them. It is, she writes, “the most complex entity in the known universe.”
These neurons and synapses create networks or patterns of thinking — and behavioral habits.
“Babies are born with many more neurons than they will need; it is the creation of networks and the pruning of disconnected neurons that shape brains and determine function. […] This process underlies habits, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.”
Since humans are creatures of habit, a lot of work is required to break them — particularly in adulthood.
Fishbane goes on to explain that, in order for new habits to be formed, new neural networks must be activated over and over again.
It can be done. But it takes a concerted effort over a prolonged period of time. And any one of these 5 nuisance digital adoption obstacles could get in the way, preventing your new habits from forming.
5 digital adoption obstacles caused by your own brain
- False start
Let’s now look at some principles of change management. Vision, skills, incentives, resource, and an action plan are all required if change is to be successful.
Vision is necessary to counter confusion. People want to know why they have to change. What’s the bigger picture? What are the benefits? In Kotter’s words, help them to see the change as a “big opportunity”.
Change is perceived by the brain as a threat. Anxiety is the brain’s way of keeping us safe. So when change comes along, anxiety kicks in, motivating us to prepare for fight or flight.
What counters anxiety? Skills. If we feel confident that we have the skills and knowledge to deal with the perceived threat, our anxiety goes away.
Resistance is every change manager’s worst nightmare. It’s also one of the trickiest digital adoption obstacles to overcome.
There’s no one silver bullet solution, but incentivizing the change can help. We don’t just mean free breakfast or Friday drinks. Giving people ownership so they’re invested in the change can also help to achieve this.
System updates are part of business life. Technology is constantly improving, so software updates happen often — and are frustrating. Just when employees get used to a system, it changes.
Yes, change is frustrating. And digital adoption has been said to cause “software frustritus”. (See the video below.) So you need to equip yourself with the right resources to facilitate digital adoption.
A Digital Adoption Platform is a great way to ease anxiety and frustration, and accelerate the learning process.
5. False start
Finally, without a strategic action plan, you could get a false start. Think of this as your brain “running” without reflecting on where it needs to go. A gung-ho approach might seem bold and brave, but it could end in disaster.
Some final words
You don’t need to become an expert in neuroscience or psychology. But to give your enterprise the best chance of tackling these common digital adoption obstacles with ease, broaden your understanding of human behavior.
This sort of people-centric knowledge will make you a better leader. And it’s central to digital transformation.
Digital isn’t simply a case of choosing and implementing IT solutions. It’s ensuring that they’re used to their fullest capability. You want your digital tools to become assets.
Don’t underestimate the digital adoption obstacles you face. Businesses that do will fail to get ROI and may not survive the digital revolution.