CIOs and IT teams face more demands than simply implementing new and improved turnkey technologies. Leadership teams are challenging them to identify and implement digital innovations that streamline work processes, drive efficiencies and support the growth of the business.
A large Fortune 500 client recently launched a series of global technology tools as part of a transformation and cost-savings initiative to improve business results.
The launches required careful planning, including an integrated communications system across countries, cultures, business units and functional areas. It was essential that we, as professional communicators, worked side by side with the client, technology partners and integration providers to align the communication plans with the technology project plans.
It all starts with the planning. Involving the right people early and establishing an organizing principal for both the launch plan and communications approach will increase the chances of a successful launch and minimize disruptions to your business.
To help ensure that your technology launch is well understood, accepted and — ideally — embraced, here are eight steps for success:
In developing your communications plans and timeline, it’s best to work backward, starting with what needs to be communicated on launch day and then determining what needs to happen in the days and weeks leading up the launch.
Define audiences by relevance. Who are the users: power users or occasional users? Where are they? Are they internally, externally, locally, regionally, globally or functionally based? Will customers or suppliers interact with the technology? Are there language, cultural or training barriers? Which leaders and other influencers can help drive the change and communications? Is the technology something that you want to talk about with the media, or would you prefer not to discuss it outside of the stakeholders involved? Either way, you need to be prepared to respond to a media inquiry.
Identify the technology but avoid “branding.” What is the simple and easy-to-identify name for the new technology that will resonate with users? The more you can include users’ input in the naming, the more likely they will engage.
If the technology is global, be sure to get input from other countries and regions. Think strategically on the timing for revealing your brand. If it’s closer to the launch, it will minimize user confusion. Be careful not to “brand” the effort so as not to create a campaign. Technology investment is a differentiator in business and must be seen as such.
Power users will need more details and will probably be influencers for others. Give special attention to the messaging for each audience so they can fully understand the rationale for the change, how to use the new technology and even how to help others.
The key here is to ensure users are receiving consistent messages in multiple channels.
Ensure that you have a consistent message to communicate confidence in the mitigation plans that address any issues.
You’ll need a means for sensing and quickly responding to users’ issues. If you don’t provide that avenue, users will find their own way, such as taking to social media. Monitor social media, and stay close with the project team beyond launch so you can make recommendations to appropriately address trends and hot issues.
Following these steps allows for a more flawless launch effort as the new technology gains user acceptance.
To borrow a cliché, you want to get it right the first time. Relaunches are expensive, and they can adversely affect your organization’s credibility and sour your audiences on the brand. Plan and prepare accordingly.
Take the time to involve the right people early, immerse yourself in the technology itself, and spend time up front understanding the culture and how people learn. These inputs will be the basis of a comprehensive communications strategy designed to accelerate the process.
Beyond the launch, the only metric worth noting will be how quickly and seamlessly the business adopts the new technology.