Driving Social Technology Acceptance

By Bob Larrivee posted 02-09-2012 13:33


Think about that statement for a moment. I heard someone recently that their organization is moving to “drive social acceptance” in the workplace. This to me sounds like trying to get your kids to eat something they don’t like. I know my kids would fold their arms and say “I don’t like it and I won’t eat it.” Frustrating! The reason I am focusing on this today is due to an article I read in the January 30, 2012 issue of InformationWeek by Michael Healey titled: “Dislike Why employees aren’t taking to enterprise social networks and what IT can do to help.”

This article presents some interesting research and the part that struck me most is the section that asks “What Do Users Want?” and the fundamental answer was in my opinion the same as you might expect of anything from a user point of view in that they want simplicity, usability and integration. It does what I need with the things I use without being complicated. Who doesn’t want that? The article goes on to cite recent Forester Research indicating that only 22% of the 4,985 workers polled feel that use of social technology is vital to their jobs. To me, as it has been with most technology being introduced in business, unless there is an understanding of purpose for social technology use in the business place, and unless there is clear vision as to the benefit for the individual, acceptance will be slow. You cannot mandate technology use just because it exists, there has to be a clear reason and shared benefit that moves users to accept is and not side-step it. Technology use for the sake of technology being available will not work. This will require a team effort that engages management, IT and the user community.

Many of the folks I have heard from tell me that their social initiatives are being driven by IT and that technology is being placed and mandates made without consideration or consultation with the user community. Something is put in place, say a Wiki, and everyone is expected to use it but no one understands the purpose of the Wiki and as such everyone then goes back to working the way they are most comfortable and familiar. If there had been discussion that the purpose of the Wiki as a site for team collaboration on the next big project where all project team members will go to share their ideas and have a central location to house their project information, perhaps there would be a better chance for success. The concept of being vital to a job rather than just another thing corporate is forcing me to do, is one that has to come from within and not pushed down.

In my view, social technologies deliver great benefit. They provide a simple, quick means of communicating and sharing information in ways we never could before. To this end, companies can gather, analyze and take action in a more flexible and responsive way. The key to unlocking the success of social technology use still relies on user acceptance and the best way to gain that is not to push something at them but to engage them in meaningful discussion that focuses on goals, outcomes and the best approach to supporting those. In this way the concept of technology being vital and user acceptance will likely become reality.

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

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I will be speaking at and look forward to meeting you at the following events:

  • February 26-28, 2012 Share Conference, Johannesburg, SA
  • March 20-23, 2012 AIIM 2012 Conference in San Francisco, CA
  • April 10-13, 2012 BPM Masters in Silver Spring, MD
  • June 13-14, 2012 info360 Conference in New York, NY

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