Visualizing the adoption experience

Earlier I blogged about visualizing the customer experience using customer experience journey maps. The experience I’m currently trying to understand and visualize is the experience people go through when adopting a new application at work. The challenge of people adopting of new applications in an organization is a much different challenge than the one of people adopting new applications in their personal lives.

People don’t like being changed. Yet new applications force people to change their behavior. This has a significant psychological effect (illustrated in the technology adoption cycle) due to our many cognitive biases. One important cognitive bias that comes into play when it comes to the challenge of adoption is that we overvalue what we have. For a great background on cognitive biases and other ways in which people are predictably irrational, check out Dan Ariely’s great book of the same name.

Just how big is this psychological effect? John Gourville, in the must read article Eager Sellers and Stony Buyers: Understanding the Psychology of New Product Adoption published in the Harvard Business Review, says that people tend to overvalue what they currently use by a factor of three. And businesses have a corresponding tendency to overvalue a technology’s benefits by a factor of three. This results in a significant hurdle when, for example, organizations try to shift employees from shared drives and email to shared document repositories and collaborative applications.

What are the stages people go through when adopting new applications in a business context? Below is a diagram illustrating my first take at visualizing the adoption experience for ECM (click on the image for a full size version).

Two important sources that informed this draft of the adoption experience are the Experience Cycle and the ADKAR change management model.

The Experience Cycle updates the sales cycle and the traditional marketing funnel with a more holistic, customer-centric point of view. The stages illustrated in the Experience Cycle, however, are incomplete when it comes to the challenge organizations face when deploying enterprise software. With enterprise software, there’s another layer of complexity. Instead of the direct Producer to Customer experience discussed in the article, there’s a Producer > Organization > Internal Customer experience. The organization has its own goals, its own internal customers, and must be actively involved in designing and supporting the adoption experience.

ADKAR is a goal-oriented change management model focused on the people dimension of change. A change management model that brings in the people dimension is important because businesses want employees to adopt new applications in order to support their business goals. But enterprise applications such as ECM are difficult to mandate. As a result, organizations need to explicitly plan for and design behaviour change into the adoption experience.

This attempt to visualize the adoption experience is just a starting point and I would love some feedback and ideas on how to improve and extend it. I also plan on creating a version based on a specific persona as the adoption experience will differ based on the behavioural patterns and goals of different personas.

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    About Joyce Hostyn

    4 Responses to “Visualizing the adoption experience”

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    1. Hi Joyce!

      This is a really great an inspiring post on the holistic customer experience. I’ve been working with The Experience Cycle for over 6 months now and I’d love to share some of my ideas with you. Your “mental model”-like chart that drafts the adoption experience is brilliant. It really got me thinking about how that can work in my world.

      I’m particularly interested in turning models like this into tools that help teams address all the areas that are important for enabling a great user experience. It can be really easy to miss certain key components in some environments when we get wrapped up in the details and negotiate pressures from other stakeholders.

      I was wondering if you happen to have done anything else with the adoption experience chart? How would you overlay the experience cycle it (would you)?


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