Why software adoption is so difficult

Adoption of new software is never easy. The technical know-how, the stress of changing the current system, even if it’s flawed, without sacrificing daily responsibilities are all aspects that heavy burden of committing to new software. Even if one could take on the aforementioned burden, that still does not guarantee adoption success for the simple reason of lack of internal vision alignment. In other words, there has to be an organization-level commitment in order for adoption to be effective.

It goes without saying that extracting the full potential out of any software will require structural changes within an organization.

This is effective for 2 main reasons:

  1. There is a support network that will keep the initiative alive. If multiple people are working to achieve the same goal, the likelihood of one individual losing interest is much lower.

  2. The immense pressure of changing the existing workstyle is diffused across the organization, so each individual still has the ability to contribute to adoption success without having to sacrifice daily responsibilities.

For some context, let’s briefly dive into a successful e-commerce adoption story.

One of our key accounts, Galaxy, has seen some great success. Over the years of using our solution, they’ve been able to triple their clientele without incurring any additional design costs. Now, as much as we’d like to take responsibility for their great success, we’d be foolish to think that our production automation alone is responsible for such incredible growth.

The real story here is Galaxy’s long-term vision, philosophy and commitment to operations improvement. It’s the understanding that in order to effectively adopt technology, it’s not a simple matter of purchasing an account for every employee and enforcing usage. It’s a much more complex task of making bold organizational changes so every teammate is in a position to succeed when adopting new solutions. In Galaxy’s case, the organizational changes started with company work process analysis, a self-reflection of sorts. After analyzing the massive volume of work produced over the years, they began to see repeating patterns irrespective of the client or the industry. From these patterns, it became clear that the majority of the resource consumption comes from customization and unique requests. This was a major discovery that Galaxy leveraged to re-organize how things were done.


Sales teams must set concrete goals

Starting with the sales team, whose client pitches would require a careful analysis of client’s needs and a proposed solution. At this stage, the solution has very little to do with execution, it is merely setting a concrete goal that both the client needs and Galaxy can deliver.


Marketing must work above all else

The next stage is setting the marketing plan of and developing a creative direction. And this is where Galaxy’s innovative vision really shines.

As insane and glorious as the creative world may seem on Mad Men, ultimately, creativity is about how it works, not how the client or other creative people feel about it. Knowing how it works requires a heavy emphasis on logic, numbers and analytics. The real art really comes through during client persuasion and education on what type of creative directions will work and what types will not work.


Creative must be simple & flexible

Let’s talk about creative directions that work and that do not work in this fast-moving e-commerce world. I'll warn my readers that I’m not about to argue creative decisions on their own. I’m here to argue that, given the vast amount of applications and technical variables a campaign has to accommodate through its very short lifespan, the real value of a creative direction is in its ability to stay clear and consistent no matter the landscape. By the way, it’s no secret that well over 95% of a campaign’s success is attributed to the dollars behind it and not its originality or creativity.

First and foremost, the campaign has to work. And by work I mean:

  • The messaging is brief & worded clearly

  • The visual is simple and instantly recognizable

  • Clear instructions on how to act on the offer (typically some CTA)

  • The visual is consistent no matter what device or size it appears on

Allow me to expand a little on that last bullet. A product visual will appear on many pages and many contexts of an e-commerce platform, like the results page, the home page if you’re running ads, the product page, the shopping cart, etc. With all of this multiplied by the amount of devices a shopper is browsing on, the creative has to stay consistent and clear above all else.


Production must be automated

This brings us to the actual production of the visuals. By this point of the process, a single key visual has been approved and is ready for adaptation into as many instances as the marketing plan requires. If the creative is done right and follows what we’ve been discussing thus far, production should be straightforward, follow an existing pattern and take up minimal time and resources. And since there is a pattern, a large portion of the production process can now be automated!


Summary & objections

For any software, plugin or gadget to bring maximum value, the genesis for its use case must be in the organization’s vision from the start. Ensuring that vision alignment within an organization or a team or even between teammates is the first step.

I’ll cover one objection some of you may be thinking: “You dummy, have you forgotten about Figma, Slack and Miro, who did not need organizational re-alignment to adopt?” To which I’d say, “There’s no need to call me names, and no I have not forgotten!” There is of course software like Figma, Slack and Miro that seemingly require no changes to the company vision or philosophical direction to adopt. All true. I’d only add an asterisk and say that organizations that saw success adopting such software were structured in such a way that allowed bottom-up software adoption from the get-go.

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