But it’s so shiny! Why we mustn’t be blinded by technology for technology’s sake

One of the critical tools in our armoury is technology. It’s an enabler for much of the thinking, planning and process that we develop. Without it, we couldn’t help our clients achieve the success they do in engagement, leadership and communication so effectively – and certainly not on the scale that we can deliver at.

But technology should also come with a warning: it’s only a good investment if it can truly support the initiatives you’re undertaking.

At the recent Leadership Board HR Partner ID event we attended, there was – rightly so – a great buzz around the use of new technologies and platforms that support people initiatives of all kinds. And there’s certainly a wealth of development going on in this area, which is a really positive endorsement of the increasing importance businesses are placing on engagement and workplace culture.

But what we noticed, too, was a seeming rush to jump on the bandwagon of the latest tools and apps, without enough care and attention being paid to how they’ll address specific business requirements. It’s great that firms are enthusiastic to move their employee and leadership programmes forward, but we’d always advise taking a step back before rushing into what can often be hefty tech investments.

In our experience, we’ve seen many examples of organisations rushing to use benefits, learning and engagement apps and platforms, without setting out clear objectives about what these tools are being brought in to achieve, and without weighing up the relative benefits of a technology-only approach against other possible tactics. Most importantly, firms often miss the crucial step of establishing what success would look like as a result of the investment, and how this would be measured in business terms.

Where we have seen great success is in professional services, retail and education firms, where pilots have been implemented to thoroughly test the use of people technology and the effect it has, before making a long-term commitment of finance and resource. This is a great way to understand the implications of an investment – and critically justify a business case – as well as giving a real-world indication of the likely benefits and outcomes.

Of course, we understand the desire for organisations to seek quick, high-profile technology solutions to the ever-changing engagement challenges they face. But taking the time to test and plan before making the technology leap can mean the difference between success or failure of a new investment – and ensures that people technology really is about your people, not just an empty, if shiny, new toy.

 

By Dr Andy Brown
CEO & ENGAGE Leadership Practice Head