Employee experiences of enterprise software have huge impact on user adoption, Gartner finds

Sixty percent of users report being frustrated over new software at work, and their word of mouth can have a huge influence, Gartner finds. Here's how IT can make it work in their favor.

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A survey of professionals who use tech products and services in their day-to-day work reveals that 60% report being frustrated with business software in the past 24 months. Those very same users, the report said, can kick off a word-of-mouth chain reaction that influences software adoption across an entire company. 

The Gartner survey of non-tech professionals found that it's common for users to share their opinions of software with those around them. Forty-two percent said that they've complained to peers after a negative, and the same percentage also reported that experience to IT. 

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Positive feelings are still shared, though not as frequently: 38% said they have recommended apps to peers after a good experience. In addition, 10% said they share their opinions in the form of software reviews on social media or other websites, and 25% said they share their experiences with their managers.

In addition to having increased influence over purchasing and adoption rates, the study also found that 24% of users said their IT teams let them choose most of the software they use, which Gartner research vice president Craig Roth describes as "the democratization and consumerization of IT," which has "resulted in employees who have more discretion over what software they use and how they use it," Roth said. 

Far from being a problem, Roth said, this study can serve as a barometer by which to gauge how users respond to new software. " IT needs to understand that users can and will resist using software that annoys them. But they can also be your best advocates if treated well," Roth said. 

How to create users that advocate for new software

It can be tricky for IT to respond to the idea that if users don't like a product they'll avoid using it, which the study found was the case for 81% of people. Forty percent of respondents said they resisted using an application after a negative experience, and when forced to engage used it minimally. The other 41% said they spent more time delving into features of a new app after a positive experience. 

Nurturing the latter type of experience is what IT teams need to do, Roth said, and companies that do it well can create a culture of users who are engaged and responsive to new software and changes to their daily work. 

To prevent that, Roth said that IT teams should start by looking at previous software deployments that were successful, figuring out what went right, and how to take away attitudes, policies and technologies that can aid in reproducing those results.

It's also important to engage with all of the different types of users in a company and react to them accordingly, Roth said. "Users that like to engage with new technology and are early adopters – what we call drivers – should be recruited as champions and train-the-trainers," Roth recommends. 

On the opposite side of the user spectrum there are those who think of new tech as a "time-wasting, disruptive influence," Roth said. Those users "need to be contained by staying on top of their concerns and at least letting them know they can be heard." 

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A third type of user, what Roth called "acceptors," are an (unfortunately) small group that accepts new tech and uses it without many complaints. Those types of people are few and far between, and their numbers will only dwindle as user attitudes begin to have more and more influence on software purchase." IT needs to be prepared that even that low percentage [of acceptors] is likely headed down in the future," Roth said.

In other words, be prepared to work with both early adopters and the stubborn in order to shape a better future for future software deployments.

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