The Success Gap: Part 1
The Success Gap: Part 1
Part 1 – Understanding “The Success Gap”
I’ve been working in the digital engagement and communications space for the past 20 years as an entrepreneur, technology platform provider and communications consultant. In one of my previous ventures, in food distribution, I started one of the world’s first virtual online events, way back in 1999.
My success with virtual events led to me co-found INXPO, a digital events and webcasting platform, which has since been sold to Intrado, formerly West Communications.
During my time in digital engagement and communications I’ve worked with dozens of companies, big and small, to help them leverage technology to improve the way they engage and communicate with their key stakeholders. Among the perspectives I’ve drawn from my experience is a concept I call The Success Gap, which has significant implications for how companies utilize digital engagement and communications technologies to achieve their desired business outcomes.
What is “The Success Gap?”
In general terms, The Success Gap is the difference between the mere functional completion of your project and successfully delivering the desired business outcome you set out to achieve.
To be more specific, let’s think about this in terms of a company deploying technology in support of its digital engagement and communications programs, technologies such as:
- broadcasting and webcasting platforms,
- team collaboration software,
- video-centric meeting tools,
- and other similar technologies.
With that in mind, The Success Gap can be more specifically characterized as the difference between the sufficiency of a technology’s functional capabilities – what the technology is capable of doing – and the company’s ability to successfully leverage those technology capabilities to achieve its desired business outcome, which might include:
- Reducing employee attrition and increasing employee engagement and productivity,
- Slashing customer churn and attrition and accelerating pipeline and revenue growth, or
- Enhancing Channel Partner activation and growth.
After all, companies don’t license software merely to have it laying around, they invest in technology capabilities to drive business value creation.
Unfortunately, technology, alone, will typically not deliver your business outcome – often technology is simply a tool that contributes capabilities towards your desired outcome. The key in closing The Success Gap is to create the Appropriate Conditions for Success – or elements, beyond technology functionality, that are critical to achieving the desired business outcome.
This simple model demonstrates that technology functionality combined with the Appropriate Conditions for Success can help drive the achievement of your desired business outcome.
Establishing the Appropriate Conditions for Success
Over the years I’ve observed that many of my customers and clients find these Conditions for Success to be obvious, and yet it can still be challenging for them to ensure success with each of these elements. Sometimes the platform technology provider can assist with these, but often they’re not well-situated to provide the kind of support the customer really needs – more on that in Part Two of this series.
Let’s first cover three of the most critical Conditions for Success, which are highly strategic and are often particularly important to and require engagement with company leadership.
- Securing Senior Executive Buy-In
Certainly not all technology systems will be viewed as “strategic,” but at beedance we believe technologies that support better stakeholder engagement and communications are not only strategic, but absolutely critical for the survival of the modern organization. Therefore, it is imperative that senior executives support the deployment and effective use of these kinds of technologies.
- Ensuring Alignment with Company Business Objectives
Once executives have bought into the technology, they will want to ensure that it is being used in a manner that is aligned with the company’s business objectives and critical initiatives. This includes alignment with the objectives of the stakeholders who are the focus of the engagement and communications programs.
- Measuring Business Impact and Value Creation
This third condition really brings it all together for company executives. Being able to measure and quantify not just engagement and communications program activity metrics, but the actual business value created by the programs, will help ensure ongoing executive support, which often translates into the necessary support and resources for users of the technology.
At beedance we believe the first three conditions are absolutely necessary for success, but by themselves, they are not sufficient to ensure success. This gives rise to four critical operational conditions that are important companions to the strategic ones.
- Ensuring Effective Onboarding of the Technology across the Enterprise
People are often hesitant to embrace new technologies and so it is important to get off to a good start – effective technology onboarding and a strong change management initiative help create momentum towards success.
- Driving Early Adoption and Consistent Usage
It is really important that companies quickly embed the new technology in their key operations and activities, and motivate their teams to leverage the technology on a regular basis – success requires that the technology become part of the fabric of how the company does business.
- Fostering High Perceived Value / High Strategic Value
This relates to how leaders in the organization communicate with users of the technology about its benefits to the enterprise. Consistent and continued leadership reinforcement of the value of the technology, in terms of business value creation, helps users better commit to using the technology and gives them a role in contributing to value creation.
- Delivering Strong User Support
As with any new technology, there is an initial learning curve and then the need for ongoing support as users become more sophisticated in their use of the technology. Support and resources must be made available throughout this process so that users continue to increase the value they create through the technology.
Digital transformation, disruption, change management and the ever-changing future of work are macro trends that impact almost every business in some fashion, and they all have significant implications for how companies engage and communicate with their key stakeholders.
In an increasingly digital age, technology will continue to play a critical role in almost every business function – stakeholder engagement and communications are not only no different, they are especially dependent upon the effective use of technology.
Companies rightly look to advanced communications technologies to enhance the way they engage their key stakeholders and create lasting business value. It is important that these companies recognize that technology is not a panacea. If they embrace a holistic, strategic approach to stakeholder engagement and communications, and are mindful of our seven Conditions for Success, they can create a strong foundation for success and make the most out of their important investments in technology.
In Part 2 of this series, “The Challenges that Technology Providers Have with The Success Gap,” we’ll examine in more detail why technology providers often struggle to help their customers close The Success Gap and achieve their desired business outcomes.