Organisations have to invest in supporting users of information and communication technology
An increasing number of organisations are investing a lot of money in the development of various information and communication technology (ICT) systems. For example, the intranet and different meeting systems are essential tools in organisations, but their successful implementation has proved to be a challenge. .
In addition to technical system development, organisations have to focus more attention on the needs of the employees who actually use the systems.
Earlier research on the implementation of ICT systems has mainly dealt with the organisational viewpoint, but Eija Korpelainen's dissertation focuses on employee experiences. The research involved studying how employees at the University of Helsinki, Finnish Defence Forces and a global technology company adopted the use of ICT systems, how they learned to use the system and what problems they encountered during use.
- We have more systems and updates and more to learn all the time. This research showed that the organisations focused relatively little attention on supporting system users. The organisation should provide employees with opportunities and time to learn how to use the systems and teach others how to use them, states Korpelainen.
According to Korpelainen, the prevailing opinion has been that problems related to implementation will disappear if users are provided with enough training.
- However, the study showed that employees' lack of skills only accounts for a small part of the problems associated with system implementation.
The support of a more experienced peer is most useful
In her dissertation, Korpelainen presents eight enablers that promote adoption and learning of ICT systems. One key research finding was the fact that employees learn how to use a new ICT system when working with other people. Support staff and more experienced peers played a very important role in the adoption of a new system.
- According to system users, it was easiest to contact a familiar person who knows the organisation's working methods and what the system is being used for. In contrast, people were hesitant to ask the organisations' ICT support staff for help.
The study also clearly demonstrated that employees have to feel that using the system will be beneficial with regard to their own work.
- Busy employees are not interested in attending a course where someone explains the system on a general level. User training arranged by the organisations should be practical and linked to the work that people are doing.
The biggest single cause of problems in terms of system adoption was poorly functioning technology and poor usability – technical problems were considered to be extremely frustrating and they decreased the desire to learn. However, employees experienced the most problems in the organisation's social operating environment. Significant social operating environment problems were a lack of common rules and the fact that the user support provided by the organisation did not meet the employees' needs or expectations.
- For example, the intranet didn't provide information because there were no common rules concerning headings.
Eija Korpelainen interviewed a total of 50 employees who were ordinary users with an understanding of the basic principles of the systems. Her dissertation entitled "Information and Communication Technology at Work − Employees' Experiences of Adoption and Learning" was examined at the Aalto University School of Science's Department of Industrial Engineering and Management on 26 November 2011.
The dissertation is available online at:
Tel. +358 40 726 1251
eija.korpelainen [at] aalto [dot] fi