I have written before about Digital Strategy and this on Psychology and Technology is the follow-up.
I have spent most of my career demonstrating how technology can be demythologised, demystified and made to work in collaboration with people. Mostly people want things to just work, like their TV or their Car, they want technology to be there for them but in a quiet calm, effective and supportive way. They forget all that goes into the car to ensure it is fit for use or these days how much additional technology is needed and used to watch digital TV.
Human factors are so important where technology is concerned, especially information technology. I have worked with a number of companies that have grown organically and then needed to look at technology strategy. Often unwilling at first to step outside of the box…(and why should they, the large tech companies spend millions on sales pitches that encourage staying in the box you love) most grasp the idea that as they and their organisation have transformed, their attitude to, and use of, information tech must change also.
This can mean restructuring and re-strategising their in-house IT; it can mean buying in expertise where it’s needed – like getting a social media expert rather than the new young intern who happens to be hip; or it can mean looking at IT from the ground up and building something that will last and work well into the future.
Psychology and Technology
Something caught my eye the other day as I was investigating Infection rates for a job, it was an article on human factors and infection control http://goo.gl/eijxKS and it got me thinking about how we expect people to bend to technology and do not create tech that bends to them.
Managers can dictate to the workforce what they need and the associated benefits; often not asking them what they need. In terms of infection control, lets take those gel dispensers you see in hospitals and care homes, at a height you can see them and use them in bright colours often with a sign, yet 25% of footfall might be children, all of whom have picked their nose (MRSA) and scratched their bottom (Norovirus) but been too small to see the gel dispenser and perhaps too small to read the notice. On the other hand it may be that each person coming in understands the reason to use hand rub on the way in but not the way out (or vice versa) because whats in it for them? Further research says washing your hands throughly is more significant in reducing hand borne infections!
So you present your staff with a CRM or an integrated work-flow ERP, it’s what the sales person from the enterprise software company said would do the trick and your IT manager feels comfortable fixing all this stuff and getting the support team to run round, (and they have worked on this before somewhere else they were employed), s/he says it’s the thing to do.
IT staff prefer what they know already, to prove my point if you don’t already have a mixed environment, next purchase ask for something outside the loop, say why are we using HP servers why aren’t we using a Linux server or something similar, or why can’t we have more Mac desktops and if there are no Mac people on the IT team watch them argue vociferously against it.
In my early days of IT support we used to talk about troublesome users being downgraded to pencil and paper and to be honest its a great place to start, if you can do it with a pencil and paper and you dont need to store the info why are you paying for tech, but best of all work out what people need to support them in their job, work out the simplest way of providing and supporting it and most of all training everyone and getting them to buy into the idea.
Moving to a future point you have made your tech investment, and the staff have to now ensure everything runs through it, but actually they have a slightly different way of following sales, product delivery etc than you realised and this is sort of above their head and they can’t really understand what it does for them. They know it will give you lots of stats on how things are going but how does it benefit them, so they begin to bypass bits of it, they don’t really see the full value of ‘WonderCRM’ or ‘CloudERP’. The system doesn’t quite click but the IT dept are having a field day supporting it all, you have your first set of stats and are struggling to understand what the figures mean for you and your organisation and there’s no going back.
So as part of your digital strategy, don’t have a finance manager who also runs IT, and don’t have a tech-head IT guru. Have someone who understands psychology, who nows some about marketing and a bit of inward marketing at that, who knows about buy in and has read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann. That’s why more and more companies are ensuring they have people at IT head, IT director level, that can bring psychology and technology to the table. Or they have people leading the organisation that can bring psychology and technology to leadership. Discuss it further on our Q&A forums