Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine our everyday lives without digitization, in the form of smartphones, digital products and services. This change caused by digital technologies is also increasingly occupying companies. In particular, the topics of digitization and connectivity have gained more and more importance. Since our today's world is spinning faster and faster and thus changing rapidly, dealing with these topics is essential for companies in order to remain competitive and survive on the market in the long term. In order to achieve this long-term competitiveness, it is necessary to develop new innovative products on the one hand, and on the other hand to optimize the core business, i.e. the existing products and the associated processes and customer interfaces.
Consequently, companies are working at full speed to eliminate analog processes and replace them with new, digital ones. For this purpose, software solutions are implemented, because they have many advantages for the organization: Not only are they far less error-prone, they are also significantly more efficient.
However, in reality, the general acceptance of employees towards the new software applications tends to be low. Despite the fact that many companies put a lot of emphasis on user-friendliness in the development of the tools. Nevertheless, the progress of the digital transformation depends to a large extent on the successful introduction and thus the user acceptance of digital applications and systems.
This limited acceptance is often attributable to the fact that the new software applications are developed by agile digitization initiatives that work according to the principle of iterative improvement, so that it is initially launched as an MVP. In other words, these are small, iteratively enhancing software solutions that improve incrementally and expand their feature set through collaboration between the digitization initiative project teams and their (future) users. For many employees, though, this is uncharted territory, as they are used to working on a project for a long time and having a "finished product" at the end of this process. Therefore, the innovative tools not only lead to discontent due to the changing work processes, but also collide with the perfectionist mindset that is deeply rooted in the corporate cultures of pre-digital large enterprises. Thus, employees experience a literal culture shock. But how do you meet these challenges?
In my master's thesis, I tried to approach these questions in a scientific way. As a result, I designed "The U Xperience" as a possible solution. "The U Xperience" is a communication strategy for digitization initiatives of large pre-digital companies. It was designed as a kind of communicative assistance to increase user adoption in their developed software applications in the long run. Thereby, a greater number of employees can be encouraged to participate in the development of the software and, consequently, a better user experience of the products can be achieved. In this way, the employees' attitudes can be positively influenced in the long term and their trust in the software solutions of digitization initiatives can be increased.
"The U Xperience" comprises a total of eleven communication measures. They tackle the most critical steps identified in the agile product development process of the digitization initiatives during the course of my research. That process, combined with fundamental concepts from the fields of change management, neuropsychology, and cognitive psychology, formed the basis for the strategy's design. Its focus is on human-centeredness within the change process and on enabling the employees to experience digital transformation through their active participation as a user.
I intensively designed one of the eleven measures: the video "Our User-Centered Agile Software Development Process". This video brings the process of user-centered agile software development to life and makes this, as well as the agile culture of the project teams, tangible for the organization's employees. It also clearly outlines their role as users in the process, and, why digitization initiatives rely on user feedback in their software development process. In this way, it supports the change in employees' mentality towards an "agile mindset" and promotes acceptance in the workforce as well as their willingness to participate in the process of development.
The overall goal of my research was to set the course for increasing user acceptance of in-house developed software applications in the long term and to support companies in putting people at the center of the change process in order to favor the joint design of digital transformation.
This work was carried out in cooperation with the Robert Bosch GmbH.