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3 easy ways to motivate people to adopt new technology

Simply having a "great" platform with "the best" features isn't enough to drive behavior change.
People talking with hands gesturing in front of a computer

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

During the 1950s in the United States, there were rumors that companies used subliminal advertising in movies to influence people (against their normal state) to buy more popcorn and soda. These myths were subsequently debunked.

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Over the years, different companies have tried various approaches to influence consumer behavior. Some of these approaches are banned by the US Federal Trade Commission. Others are subtle cues meant to elicit a subconscious reaction (for example, the shape of an arrow between the "E" and "x" on the FedEx logo)—a reaction that will cause you to use or, at the very least, remember the product.

Some companies attempt to influence consumer behavior through advertising—"Buy our products." Other companies use tactics closer to direct incentives, like offering rewards for using a credit card. This brings in more revenue for the credit card company, and consumers can trade reward points for things like retail gift cards. Honestly, if you think about it, the parallels between what the credit card companies do and what many local arcades do (use the tickets you win from games to pick a gift from inside the glass case) are humorous.

What do these companies realize that we often forget when changing our technology platforms? We need to influence human behavior. Simply having a "great" platform with "the best" features isn't enough.

Ways to increase adoption

You build a great hybrid cloud platform; you have excellent initial adoption; you hit a plateau; a global pandemic exacerbates stagnation.

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That's the situation that our protagonist Sam finds herself in. With the results she committed to for her big boss, she's deeply concerned that her team won't hit the target unless drastic actions are taken. What are her options?

  1. She can ask her boss to issue a mandate to all the teams that aren't using the platform to get there within the next six months. This is the best way to get the results and is an effective use of top-down management.
  2. She can bring in an economic consultant to tell her team what they don't know about building incentives and disincentives to help people move to the platform.
  3. Sam knows her stuff. This migration is a psychological mind shift as much as a technical platform change. She can dust off what she knows about human behavior and design an approach to reinforce and motivate people and teams across the organization to join forces with her team in achieving their goals.

If she had the extra budget to bring in an economist for option 2, she would. It would validate some of the approaches in option 3 that she and her team need to take. Since that's not in the budget, she'll do it herself—option 3.

Three things we've done to motivate change

There are a lot of ways to motivate behavior change. Here are three things we've tried.

  1. We created a cool codename and image design for the platform. Starting with a competition to come up with the name and great design help for the image, we use this branding everywhere to help with communications and build excitement and anticipation.
  2. We ordered swag with the codename and design on it. Stickers, T-shirts, water bottles, pens, and so on—things that motivate the teams and get them excited about the platform.
  3. We used swag as a reward for joining the platform. This is for teams that exhibit their architecture patterns and share what they learned with the rest of the organization to help everyone move faster.

Now you may think, "Matt, you're just bribing teams to use the platform to meet your goal." Well, no. Bribes are illegal, and appropriate incentives are not. What we're really doing happens in conjunction with our hybrid, integrated, and open approach to our IT organization. We still implement the capabilities based on customer feedback—providing the features users need to accelerate their business through technology. We still ensure that we're secure and integrated within our operating environment. We still offer a single experience for the consumers.

What we're doing now is building excitement in the teams along with the platform's technical capabilities.

Combining the technology, the approach, and the culture shift driven by intentional tactics goes a long way to capture momentum and move faster than you thought was possible.

This originally appeared as Building excitement to drive adoption on the Hybrid Cloud How-tos blog and is republished with permission.

Topics:   Collaboration   Leadership  
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Matt Lyteson

Matt Lyteson is the vice president for CIO Hybrid Cloud platforms for the IBM CIO organization supporting IBMs internal business operations. More about me

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