By Ranjith Lewis and François Habryn
Successful technology modernization projects are driven by people and processes. Yet all too often, companies spend the majority of their time and resources acquiring digital tools rather than promoting organization-wide acceptance of the new technology.
Unfortunately, overlooking the human element inherent in digital innovation can undermine almost any transformation initiative.
McKinsey research found that roughly 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals,1 due in large part to employee resistance, lack of management support, and other “soft costs” of organizational change. As a result, investments in technology that are designed to improve customer satisfaction, enhance internal operations, or advance other corporate objectives tend to yield costly overruns, low adoption rates, and poor business outcomes.
There’s a better way.
When planning any large-scale digital innovation or new way of working, think strategically about the non-technical aspects of the initiative. Building awareness, gaining buy-in, and reinforcing change throughout your organization paves the way for a much smoother journey than if you focus on the technology alone.2
Experience offers proof. These five tips—learned through helping scores of customers deploy AIOps across their organizations—can help put your company on the right path to successful technology implementation.
1. Humanize your approach
Your employees must first learn to trust the technology you’re introducing before they can use it to make informed decisions or produce specific results.
For example, insights generated by AIOps can automatically predict emerging issues with a high degree of certainty. Once your teams understand what the information is telling them, they can investigate anomalies and resolve related issues before you experience service disruptions or other problems.
It’s a fundamental shift in operational thinking to move from a reactive model that measures “mean time to detect” and “mean time to repair” to a predictive strategy that gauges “mean time before failure” and “mean time between failures.” That’s why, when deploying initiatives like AIOps, you need to consider how it will affect your people and processes after implementation.
If you or your employees need assurance about the effectiveness of a certain technology, start your modernization journey with an experiment. With AIOps, for instance, you could continue responding to incidents after they arise as you normally would, but use AIOps following remediation to investigate underlying causes of the disruptions. The resulting data from this use case shows how certain anomalies can be used to predict specific changes in operational performance.
After formally implementing technology that’s backed by positive outcomes, you should accept and incorporate employee feedback.
Make a point to:
- Solicit comments and answer questions from users
- Diagnose and address any post-implementation issues
- Celebrate successes and team engagements
Involving employees throughout the process and continually refining the new ways of working helps foster goodwill and bolster adoption throughout your organization, leading to sustained progress.
2. Secure executive sponsorship
During the planning stages of technology modernization, your CIO, CTO, and other executives must align the transformation goals with your organization’s overall business strategy. This unified vision helps IT leaders engage their teams and prepare practitioners for change.
Once executive sponsorship is in place, identify advocates within your company who will drive change daily. These individuals need to champion modernization among colleagues, highlighting the benefits it can deliver.
In our AIOps example, three roles are particularly important:
- Site reliability engineer (SRE): Determines business needs, putting software and systems in place to promote adoption
- Operations leader: Ensures teams remain committed to the implementation strategy and full technology adoption
- Data engineer: Builds a flexible and scalable AIOps architecture
Once the implementation begins, your executive team needs to continue providing direction and support. Their ongoing leadership is vital to improving buy-in and usage rates throughout your company.
3. Communicate reasons for change
If employees at every level don’t appreciate why your company is deploying new technology like AIOps, they may be reluctant to change.
Put the journey in perspective by:
- Outlining operational value and business opportunities, such as enhanced customer experiences
- Showing how the change aligns with organizational and IT strategies
- Explaining why it’s the ideal time to implement enhanced technology
- Detailing ways innovation can improve employee experience and productivity
Consistently promoting these messages helps increase employee buy-in and acceptance across your organization.
4. Implement changes incrementally
Employees will either embrace or resist modernization based on how useful they perceive the technology to be. A phased adoption helps to demonstrate the value of transformation.
Continuing with our AIOps illustration, first apply the technology to a single use case. After achieving positive results with one data source and a defined area of scope, begin introducing AIOps in additional environments using multiple sources and larger amounts of data.
A methodical approach helps your team gain confidence in AIOps-enabled decision-making and the technology’s ability to automatically deliver insights, after which they can move to more complex implementations—while also coming to realize that AIOps is intended to augment employee capabilities, not supersede their expertise.
5. Measure and reward
During periods of major change, employees can be highly motivated by how they’re measured and rewarded. Results from numerous AIOps deployments confirm that technology adoption rates increase when project and organizational change teams and executive sponsors work together to:
- Demonstrate business impact at the departmental level (for example, the reduction in application downtime and customer incidents), which helps facilitate company-wide adoption
- Develop incentive programs to recognize employees when they reach select milestones (for example, a reduction in tickets and incidents, MTTR, or service and application availability)
- Measure post-implementation engagement and adoption rates across your organization as part of daily workflows
No two technology modernizations are the same. However, successful AIOps deployments of every size and scope support one widely applicable lesson: user-focused thinking drives greater business outcomes, regardless of your IT initiative.
You’ll find more discussion and guidance about AIOps in our white paper, “Defining the Journey to AIOps.”
Ranjith Lewis is the CTO for Kyndryl Denmark, and François Habryn is the Associate Partner for Cloud, Applications, Data, and AI for Kyndryl Switzerland.