The Adoption Series (2) – You Are Not Alone

Posted by Andrew Bartolini on July 19th, 2011
Stored in Articles, General, Strategy, Technology

While I personally find the adoption rates of supply management technologies in the marketplace to be generally disappointing (for example, eProcurement solutions, which only 52% of enterprises have adopted[1]) and often disheartening (i.e. Spend Analysis solutions, which only 30% of enterprises have adopted [2]), supply management is not alone. There are two sides to the adoption “coin” – enterprise adoption (does the company have a solution in place?) and end-user adoption (with a system in place, how many targeted users actually use the solution?). Whether looking at the head or the tail, technology adoption is not an animal that is unique to procurement departments.

Did you know that according to CIO Magazine research in Q4 2010, “Enterprise Content Management” has only been “deployed by 43% of organizations?” This is only slightly better than the number of organizations that are using “Wikis” – 37% (see page 25 for both references).

Yes, technology adoption is a universal problem within business, so let’s eliminate some of the “woe is me – procurement is a laggard” jargon we often see by taking a cursory look at what is happening in other parts of the enterprise by looking at a sampling of other research and commentary.

1. “In fact, getting users to utilize CRM tools has been a key hurdle for sales managers in meeting their sales targets and business objectives. A major cause for low adoption by salespeople are is the perception that the CRM applications are perceived as being tools that help managers keep track of performance and monitor the activities of the sales representative rather than as a tool that will help the sales person, make his job easier and enable him to close more deals. Another drive for low adoption is the potential added burden that is placed on the rep rather than alleviating some of the workload.” SOURCE (Sound familiar? “eSourcing takes longer than the old way of emailing the same word 85-page document we used four years ago for the current contract”)

2. “Although software benefits realization is still a significant challenge, 2010 marked the first year that organizations collectively achieved an average effective usage rate greater than 50%. Less than 10% of organizations can measure the impact of IT on business productivity. Traditional end-user performance strategies are struggling to keep pace with dynamic business environments.” SOURCE (“We only have half of our end-users in the eProcurement system, but are not sure if we’ve had a payback yet.”)

3. “At organizations that have deployed business intelligence (BI) tools and software, only a small fraction of workers actually use them and just a quarter of BI customers are fully satisfied with their vendors’ support services, according to a recent survey of BI customers, consultants and vendors by the Business Application Research Center.” SOURCE  (“We struggled with our spend analysis provider, so we are going to try another one.”)

This evidence, anecdotal though it may be, should let procurement departments understand that when it comes to the challenge of making a business case for an investment in technology and driving user adoption, you are not alone.

The Adoption Series will continue.

Postscript: The third-party quotes and data were quickly selected and presented to show that procurement is not alone in the struggle of technology adoption. They were not deeply analyzed vetted for their research rigor and intellectual honesty. To be very clear, research on technology usage can be skewed (to tell a story) or flawed (in its construct and analysis) – this, however, is a topic for another day (or another series even :-)).


[1] Ardent Partners “CPO Rising 2011: Innovative Ideas for the Decade Ahead” (Publishing Soon!)

[2] Ibid.

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