What is Digital Friction, and What to Do About It?

by | Aug 23, 2022

No one wants to work harder than they have to. Digital transformation is one way businesses can make employees’ lives easier. Yet simply increasing the amount of technology isn’t the answer. Digital friction can actually make the workday more challenging. Read on to learn more about digital friction, its demotivating force, and how to avoid it.

Digital friction describes added challenges employees face trying to work with business technology. As businesses add more digital tools, teams must adapt to a more complex ecosystem, but problems can arise:

  • Technology isn’t integrated, so there are now more steps to follow.
  • Workflows grow more complicated, as there are several digital solutions to navigate.
  • Employees are overwhelmed with notifications tracking, managing, and monitoring digital workflows.
  • New approaches create or duplicate manual processes.
  • Employees become overloaded with information thanks to the many new collaborative, digital tools.

Any of these issues is counterproductive to digital transformation. The idea behind adding new digital solutions is to streamline and simplify, but if you’re complicating the work environment, you’ll undermine productivity. You aren’t helping employee engagement and morale either. Your people grow frustrated with your fresh expectations.

Sources of digital friction

When you install new tech, you intend to save time, reduce effort, and improve productivity, but the best intentions don’t avoid digital friction. If you’re going to install digital technologies be wary of these problems:

  • Poor understanding of workflow. If you don’t understand what is happening now, you can’t effectively install digital processes.
  • Inconsistent workflows. When employees approach processes differently, there will be friction on new, digital solutions.
  • Poor-quality data. Digital technology relies on data. A major source of digital friction is low-quality data. Employees spend too much time locating, validating, and formatting data to see benefits.
  • Lack of understanding of a solution’s impact. Investing in tech for the sake of “going digital” is not setting employees up for success. You need to know what the technology can do and how it will impact employees’ daily work.

What to do about digital friction

Before even adding technology, consult with your employees. Learn their pain points and what they want from a digital solution. Find out how they are doing their jobs today. Then, you can work with an IT consultant to determine which digital offerings will add value.

Look for opportunities to integrate your digital technology. Help employees avoid information overload and being constantly pinged and notified. Take stock of all the apps and software you’re using. Identify where you are duplicating processes, especially manual ones. Ferret out the places where your people are having to work harder to do their jobs. Know that data quality is a prime culprit.

Make decisions about new digital technology based on outcomes. What do you want the software to do? How will it be used and managed? Be sure you know how this new tool you’re offering is going to help people if you want them to embrace the change.

Simplify access by ensuring employees have a positive user experience. With more employees working remotely or hybrid, they need to do their jobs on a wider range of devices.

Need help cutting digital friction? Our technology-agnostic IT experts can identify problems and increase productivity. We can also consult on legacy tech and data migration to support digital transformation success. Call us today at 931-542-9327.

 

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