Conversational Analytics / 02.01.2013

What all CIOs must know about Change Management & Enterprise Mobility

Enterprise mobility can improve an organization’s productivity, optimize logistics operations, enhance customer relationships and streamline supply chain management. New mobile applications provide sales staff with updated information about their customers and new ways for field forces to work more effectively. However, one of the major challenges associated with enterprise mobility is user adoption. If employees and customer don’t find the applications easy, intuitive, and personal, then they will resist the change – and the ROI of an enterprise mobility investment will be much lower. Tata Consultancy Services recently published a white paper discussing this issue, and four strategies to overcome it. We’ve seen these practices work first hand with our customers, so we have summed up the major points below.

In order to overcome this challenge of adoption, any organization seeking to deploy some form of IT optimization must understand the principles of effective change management. The right strategy will take into account four basic criteria that every individual goes through when deciding if and when they will accept and embrace the change. First, people must understand what the change is and why it is important. This enables them to contemplate the change and how it affects them. Second, people must believe that the change is practical so that they have the confidence to embrace it. Change always involves doing things in new ways, which in turn requires new skills, information, or tools.  Third, people must believe that change is the right thing to do. Embracing change requires a personal belief that the change is the best course of action. Finally, people must be willing to step out of their comfort zone. This involves letting go of existing commitments and relationships.

Traditional change management approaches are quite accomplished in the first two areas: communicating the rationale and practicality of the solution through different types of “push” strategies including town halls, intranet web sites, and training sessions. What is missing is instilling the desire to change and engendering the courage to act on that desire. In order for this to happen, people need to feel a sense of control. They need to feel that they’ve been given an adequate forum where their needs and concerns have been understood and incorporated.  In short, they need to be part of the decision-making process.

In the context of IT, in large automation projects, one often finds a gap between the automated process and those expected by users. Eventually new process is imposed on people who are skeptical on the efficacy. The adoption of the system faces a natural resistance. Rather than creating a solution and pushing it to stakeholder groups, project teams should make the stakeholders “pull” the solution by choosing to change. This push/pull balance is formed by creating four pressure points as stakeholders move through the various levels of commitment to a program.

1) Build a foundation on change methodology – Having a planned approach for change, involving external facilitation to guide project teams and stakeholders through the change process, provides a foundation upon which change programs succeed.

2) Engage stakeholders in decisions and the vision behind them – The project team identifies stakeholders to participate, defines the decisions to be made, builds the solution, and trains stakeholders. This push frames the decision for stakeholders and provides them with the means to bridge the gap between current and future states.

3) Help leadership break down barriers – Mobilize and align the stakeholder groups’ top management around the program’s priorities, vision, and solution. This creates an environment that fosters widespread involvement and participation in the program; it provides the leadership necessary to break down barriers and guide the program to success.

4) Identify agents of change and make them champions within their groups – When stakeholders participate in the creation of the solution and solicit widespread commitment from their peers, they become agents of change who pull the solution from the project team and make it their own. This is an important distinction. As senior leaders take on more responsibility for the success of the program, the project team has to learn how to work with much broader participation from stakeholders.

About Uniphore: Uniphore Software Systems is the leader in Multi lingual speech-based software solutions. Uniphore’s solutions allow any machine to understand and respond to natural human speech, thus enabling humans to use the most natural of communication modes, speech, to engage and instruct machines. Uniphore operates from its corporate headquarters at IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai, India and has sales offices in Middle East (Dubai, UAE) as well as in Manila, Philippines.