Working in HR technology, I’m constantly involved in organizational change. A word I’m hearing a lot lately is disruption—not surprising, since many of my clients are implementing Software as a Service (SaaS), an acknowledged disruptive technology. The term, derived from Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen’s concept of disruptive innovation, means “any technology that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry, or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry. ”
Examples of disruptive technology abound. Think email and regular “snail” mail, PCs and typewriters, or, more recently, the new Apple Watch and traditional luxury timepieces. Ever since Apple’s design head, Sir Jonathan Ive, claimed the smartwatch will “disrupt the Swiss watch industry,” Forbes, the Economist, and CNN have weighed in, pro and con.
It’s an interesting debate—I’m an early adopter and I love a good watch—but my real interest lies in disruptive technologies in the HR technology space, for one simple reason: technology isn’t all that gets disrupted when an organization replaces a legacy system with a SaaS solution like Workday or Success Factors. There are broader ramifications for the organization, often unplanned and sadly, unmanaged.
Most organizations are aware that they need change management during a technology implementation project. Some limit change efforts to integrating systems; others incorporate a communication plan; and still others go further, involving stakeholders in key decisions, including the need for a new system in the first place, and connecting with end users throughout the process. Rarely do they consider the impact on the organization after the system goes live, when the consultant goes home and they and their employees must live with the results.
Because too many companies are caught flatfooted by changes that follow a SaaS implementation, Steelbridge Solutions is launching a research effort to discover how companies can more successfully navigate post-implementation challenges—both broad issues related to organizational structure or culture and change-related issues like increasing user adoption. In the coming months, we will be interviewing human resource executives regarding project goals, project outcomes, and—you guessed it—the nature of and impact of project-driven disruption. Stay tuned, and feel free to contact us if you’d like to participate.