Why Computer Users Accept New Systems

What's the point of implementing an expensive, strategic information-technology system if user resistance prevents it from fulfilling its promise? Fortunately, a clearer picture has emerged of user-acceptance factors that could boost the success rate of IT projects.

In a paper published in the December 2000 issue of Information Systems Research, Viswanath Venkatesh concludes that six variables significantly contribute to how users perceive the ease of use of specific systems over time. These variables involve user attitudes toward technology rather than how the particular system functions, and they were shown to account for 60% of the variance in the way users perceive ease of use. The depth of understanding resulting from Venkatesh's study — twice what was previously understood, according to the author — should empower IT managers to be more successful with their project implementations.

Venkatesh, an assistant professor in the Decision and Information Technologies Department at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, studied the following variables in actual corporate settings:

  1. Computer Self-Efficacy (Internal Control). Users' confidence about their ability to learn and use new information-systems technology in general.
  2. Facilitating Conditions (External Control). An IT–conducive work environment (for example, high-speed networks, fast computers and help-desk support).
  3. Intrinsic Motivation/Computer Playfulness. Individuals who use computers for enjoyable or personal tasks — not just to earn a living — were shown to accept new systems more readily.
  4. Emotion/Level of Computer Anxiety. A person's general concern about having the ability to succeed with a new system was found to negatively influence perceived ease of use.
  5. Objective Usability. How much a system actually contributes to a user's ability to do his or her job better.
  6. Perceived Enjoyment. The degree to which users gain satisfaction simply from the act of using a system.

Venkatesh's paper, “Determinants of Perceived Ease of Use: Integrating Control, Intrinsic Motivation and Emotion Into the Technology Acceptance Model”(http://isr.commerce.ubc.ca/Abstracts/11-4-Venkatesh.html), was based on a 2000 study of 246 users (non–IT professionals) in three organizations — an electronics retail store, a real estate agency and a financial services firm. Venkatesh conducted surveys immediately after training was completed on a new system, one month after usage began and three months after usage began. Immediately after training, the first four variables were found to be the only determinants of perceived ease of use; however, over time objective usability and enjoyment were found to influence user acceptance significantly.