Mind the Adoption Gap: Why Do We Still Email Documents?
“Business users tend to ignore IT tools that require them to switch contexts, juggle multiple browser windows, and learn new collaboration habits . . . Eighty-three percent of business users continue to abuse email, ping-ponging document attachments back and forth, thus creating document chaos.”
Ignore, abuse, create chaos: that harsh opinion comes from the company Mainsoft. Its premise is that there are vast wastes involved with our hesitancy to learn new collaborative technologies.
Mainsoft commissioned the research company uSamp to survey 317 U.S. business email users working in sales, marketing, human resources, and legal departments in companies with 100 or more employees. The research was specifically on their adaptation of SharePoint, a Microsoft product that allows companies to set up websites to share documents. (Other online collaboration services include Dropbox.com; Mainsoft sells a product designed to help companies better integrate and use SharePoint.)
What the survey found was a huge adoption gap. Of those surveyed, 83% preferred to email documents instead of uploading them to a public folder or shared drive.
According to the survey:
76% say it’s the fastest option.
44 % say it’s what they know best.
36% say all their business contacts are in email.
Users also said it was difficult for them to find documents in shared areas.
Adoption gaps are nothing new, but they’re huge issues for companies making everything from baby steps to big strides in embracing new technologies. MIT SMR’s new special report, Analytics: The New Path to Value, touches on this challenge in its fourth recommendation, to keep existing capabilities while adding new ones. The report notes, “As executives use analytics more frequently to inform day-to day decisions and actions, this increasing demand for insights keeps resources at each level engaged, expanding analytic capabilities even as activities are shifted for efficiencies.”
One solution? Older workers and executives may want to watch and take their cues from younger tech-savvy staff.
Intel strategy futurist Jim Fister, in an MIT SMR interview earlier this year, noted that there’s less of an adoption gap with Gen Y workers, who are comfortable learning and relearning technologies.
“Your young work force is wired, and we’re going to have to let them follow their paths, not force them to follow our paths,” he says.
Fabio Krauss Stabel