Technological revolutions transform organizations. In recent times, it has been the ICT (Information Communications Technology) enablement that has lead the transformations within organizations.
Strategists suggest that ICT enablement is an ongoing process and it is about a series of consistent organizational transformations to leverage technology (for increasing productivity of organizations). Therefore, many experts insist on building inherent capability within organizations to keep on seamlessly adopting the changing ICT technologies.
But, adoption of ICT by any organization is not that easy. ICT Project Managers will tell you that for almost all the major ICT enablement projects, in between the push from management and pull from customers in favor of the project, there is a persistent internal resistance within the organization (undergoing transformation) throughout the life cycle of the project.
Moreover, it is observed that ICT projects are perceived to be more of a technology affair ever since its inception till its completion. And, in the process of ICT enablement, Change Management is not given the due importance. Change Management is at the best considered to be an internal capacity building exercise comprising of training (or at times hand-holding support) the existing employees to work with the newly installed systems.
In planning of the ICT lead transformation of organizations, what is grossly overlooked is the fact that organizations are run by people. If apprehensions in the minds of people (running the organization) are NOT adequately addressed, it results in internal resistance towards changes brought about by organizational transformation (through ICT enablement). Therefore, it is important to understand, what makes people resistive to change. My personal take on why people have a general tendency to resist ICT enablement at workplace are listed as under:-
1. ICT Introduces Measurement – To indicate towards the fact that a lot of productive time gets wasted in the name of trivial things, it is so said that ‘In office meetings, hours are spent and minutes are recorded’. Actually this is generally true for many aspects of office culture and meetings are no exception. Putting systems to monitor different aspects of official work puts a way to measure many of such tasks, which may be picked to supplement performance of employees. Prior to installation of ICT systems, people are used to be working in an environment, where only the supervisor assesses their assigned work for measurement of performance. Therefore, employees generally feel that computerization is taking them from a relatively free environment to little restrictive environment.
Moreover, measurements can become input to metric system used to derive different indicators about the health of any department (or section / sub-section) and may be compared with respect to other departments or against standard data for similar departments in other organizations.
2. ICT Limits Discretionary Power – Many employees are accustomed to using their personal discretion in matters related to (say) service provisioning or decision making on the behalf of organization (and these employees may be quite judicious while using their discretionary powers). ICT automation reduces instances when discretion of any office bearer would be required. And for the cases discretion is required, rational use of discretion may need to be established in the light of data captured by various systems. .
3. ICT introduces Non-repudiation – Evidence stored in various server logs and various databases of the organizations (with authentication/authorization and with time stamp) makes non-repudiation assured to greater extent than physical files or physical registers managed by humans.
4. ICT Curtails Positional Advantage – Usually people enjoy many advantages by holding a position within an organization. Such advantages stretch from social recognition to advantage of access to first-hand information. It is widely believed that computerization reduces asymmetry of information within an organization and at the same time reduces number of persons who approach to office bearers for services.
5. ICT Increases Role of Experts in Decision Making – ICT can be exploited to the best if it can be used to process information to create knowledge. To have the capability to process information captured within an organization and correlate with the external information (domain specific nitty-gritty, industry specific trends and information on market conditions on supporting facilities like (say) finance, human resources) requires contributions from external expertise. Howsoever polite, such expert interventions in the sphere of line management may seem, it may not always go well with the traditional way of decision making in traditional set-up.
In the end, I feel that one word that can sum-up the above five points could be CONTROL. With the introduction of ICT enablement it is the control that employees feel they may be losing to machines. And, if the organizational change managers may take this into account, while designing change management plan, may be ICT projects may go much smoothly.