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Is Digital Engagement living up to it’s hype?

Creative mix

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Digital engagement is a huge trend right now and for companies that get it right there are massive rewards & gains to be made. A lot of companies have successfully implemented new systems and tools to create a more engaged and productive workforce as well as driving innovation.  The case studies are impressive and centred around positive outcomes that make it sound easy to achieve, and they are…sort of.

A far greater amount of companies have tried to put in a tool and failed to get the results.

Measuring success first

A figure I read put the failure rate at 80% for solutions that didn’t deliver the promised results. A bit of red flag when most companies in that survey did not even have a clear understanding of what their measurement criteria should have been. They were reading what others had a achieved and thinking a straight implementation would yield the same.

The result was disillusionment and a waste of budget as well as resources. Users abandonment of the new system and going back to the old ways of working with little or no progress created a reluctance to try again.  Reasons for the failure were multiple and interdependent; problems poorly understood (not investigated), too quick to roll out a solution, not enough insight, lack of preparation, lack of research, not understanding the roles and issues of the people who will be using the tools and no clear KPIs. The criteria must be set out at the very beginning before a proposed solution is even introduced.

Engagement rules

The clue is in the name. Engagement. These have to be engaging. What is engaging is some what subjective. You cannot lift and shift what worked in one organization into another. Because the problem may be similar wrong assumptions about company culture and readiness may render it useless. How you engage and motivate staff is more important than the tools. But there are ideas and learnings that can be explored.

If you don’t know what is causing the problem you cannot create a solution

The first step is to understand the underlying problems within the organization. Sometimes an outside perspective is good. Employees may be more ‘open to tell the truth’ about what is wrong if they know what they say cannot be held against them. The structure of the company and the way people work and interact as well as culture, attitudes and mindsets all need to be considered first and foremost.

Company culture matters

Every organisation has it’s own culture and issues to resolve.  Only once the problem is understood can you start to envision the solution. The solution needs to have a set of criteria in place that it will deliver on. Having a kick off workshop with the stakeholders to drive out and prioritize the criteria will get everyone working together and understanding the trade offs.  A mix of insight and  analytics for setting the creative against a number of themes such as: adoption, time management, response speed, innovation, cost reduction and out put for a breakdown of predictable and achievable metrics.

You cannot fool people for very long.

Humans cannot be fooled for very long with a few sparkly gimmicks. People may think it looks cool at first and even in initial testing proclaim, “this is great I will use this all the time”.  But then something happens. The novelty wears off and the decline of usage starts. I’ve head it said (as an argument against the research), “oh but the client likes it”. Sure the client likes it now but will they still like it in a year when the results start coming in. Better to have those difficult conversations now and get the model right.

Competition is not team work

Studies show that pitting people against each other with leader boards and levels will not work over time. After the initial thrill of competition it becomes negative and off putting. Those people without as much time to devote to it drop off and find them penalized. Some personality types who don’t like competition and/or losing will think it is better to stay out of it. Newer users see that they will never catch up and quickly disengage. Teams become more secretive instead of more collaborative if they see others profiting from their ideas but nothing coming back. Incentives cannot be competitive over longer periods of time. Occasional contests can be good but they need to be quick and fair. An element of digital engagement could be to remove red tape and level the playing field.

The right solution for the right situation

The right solution is end result. Selecting the right model of digital engagement for the organization and situation is key. It is not a solution looking for a problem.Take the time to the work first to understand the problem and explore different options. Start small and choose a problem to focus on and create a tailored solution that fits. Understand the users and their needs. A number of solutions can be added and delivered over time and integrated together to create smoother working practices and bring different parts of the organization together. The success measures at the beginning would identify which ones to focus on first and create a type of road map but this doesn’t mean that this won’t change and other ones make take priority.

Digital engagement projects need to be handled by a User Experience professional who understands how to create, test and measure effective web / mobile solutions. A good place for further information on the types of digital engagement projects available and case studies is Digital Engagement Org.

http://www.digitalengagement.org

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