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Exhaustion is a Major Barrier to Collaboration Adoption


Technology is constantly evolving.  As technologists we look for ways to use technology to improve business processes for our stakeholders.  So often we evaluate and deploy technology that "of course" is better then what was there before.  Why is it then that the adoption rate within our enterprise is often a challenge?  Why is it other times the adoption rate is almost instant as users push for new technology ahead of IT?

The answer may be in the results of a fascinating study on self control.  Through this study it has been determined that self control is finite and can be depleted.  Dan Heath talks about the study and what it means for those who find their self control being taxed by certain activities.


A point made during the study, which is most relevant to the adoption of new technologies, is "In almost all change situations, you're substituting new, unfamiliar behaviors for old, comfortable ones, and that burns self-control.".  As new technologies are introduced to users and incorporated into business processes they are often quite different in the way they operate.  The UIs may be different, access to the applications may be through different paths, and in some cases the processes themselves may be reengineered to enable the use of these new applications.

Proposed changes to a set of routines may be fully agreed to by the users, they will understand why changes were made and the benefits of using new routines and incorporating new technologies, but they need to be conscious of the changes and be aware of implementing the new steps involved.  Through force of habit and simple mental exhaustion, people will revert back to the old way of doing things.

Sometimes however, we see new technologies and processes implemented, but adoption takes off as if second nature to the users.  Through the results of this study we've learned that any change that requires a level of self checking and self control leads to mental exhaustion.  Why is it that some changes have a long adoption curve while others do not?  I believe this has to do with the consumerization of IT.  Today we see users leading the adoption of technology ahead of IT.  So, when IT deploys a new technology that people have been using in their personal lives for some time, they quickly adopt and integrate into their professional processes.

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