BearingPoint Finland blog

When adopting new services, the target is clear: make it successful. In addition to a well-executed implementation project, what else is needed for adoption success? 

First, let us talk about success. In general, success is viewed as a targeted state that is achieved through accomplishments. The success of cloud service adoption is the positive result deriving from the state of different accomplishments and variables that define them. The variables are system quality, information quality, service quality, intention to use, usage of the system, user satisfaction and net benefits. Their influence on each other is presented in the following picture.1

These variables are the building blocks of adoption success.1 However, understanding and measuring their state and fulfillment is not straightforward. This brings up a question: how can we break down success even further? 

Factors affecting success 

Quality, usage, user satisfaction and benefits are impacted by other factors that can be divided into three categories:  

These characteristics play a major role in adopting new technologies and services. The target of cloud services is to support tasks that contribute to the organization’s operations. Their suitability for this purpose affects the outcome of the adoption of new solutions. User and social views determine how the new solutions are welcomed and used in organizations. Project and organizational structures represent the organization’s informal and formal cultures, policies, relationships, and patterns. They determine the state of the environment where new system is brought into.1-2  

In our cloud adoption survey, the respondents were requested to express their views on the importance of these characteristics for cloud adoption success. Let’s look into these results one category at a time. 

Task characteristics 

Task characteristics contain two determinants: task compatibility and task difficulty. Task compatibility describes how well the technology is in line with the processes and methods of an organization.1 & 3 63 % of the survey respondents expressed task compatibility to be important in the cloud adoption process.  

Task difficulty refers to how complex, demanding, and predictable a specific task or process is.4 For example, it determines if the execution of the task requires a person with certain skillsets or if it can be done by anyone. 56 % of respondents saw that task difficulty is an important factor of adoption success.  

Compatibility and difficulty are topics that are related particularly to process standardizing and outsourcing when it comes to cloud services. The intention of cloud services is not to provide highly customized solutions that are perfect fit to the organization’s processes. The required preparations depend on compatibility and complexity of the processes that are being moved to cloud. 

User and social characteristics 

There are four types of user and social characteristics: attitudes toward technology, enjoyment, trust, and user expectations. They represent the views, thoughts, and beliefs towards a target such as technology itself, its use, or service vendor. 1 & 5-9 

From user and social characteristics trust was highlighted the most, receiving support from 72 % of the respondents. Attitude towards technology was prioritized by 63 %. User expectations and enjoyment were not considered to be as significant: less than half of the survey respondents supported their importance.  

Trust is a crucial part of cloud adoption success, as decrease in control when moving to cloud services is known to influence trust negatively. The lack of trust is likely to decrease usage and the same applies to having a negative attitude towards technology. 

Project and organizational characteristics 

There are seven project and organizational characteristics that affect success: user involvement, relationship with developers, management support, extrinsic motivation, management processes, organizational competence, and sophistication of IT infrastructure. They together represent the culture, existing structures, and capabilities of organizations.1 & 10-11 

From project and organizational category management processes, organizational competence, and sophistication of IT were prioritized the most by respondents. Management processes received 69 %, organizational competence 79 %, and sophistication of IT 75 % support for their importance. Relationship with developers, extrinsic motivation and user involvement were not seen as critical.  

Existing information technologies determine the extent of changes that are needed when new technologies are adopted. Organizational competence helps to plan ahead and prepare for changes by building required skills and future competencies. Management processes such as structures and culture influence the environment of the adoption: How well the changing information technologies are accepted and how much effort their adoption requires? Management support is the key component for an organization’s commitment to new technologies and standardized processes. 

Key points to consider for successful cloud adoption 

The state of the organization’s information technology, trust towards cloud services, organizational competence, and management processes were considered to be the top priorities when it comes to cloud service adoption. All of these items are typical priorities in an implementation project, but trust stands out. It gets more highlighted in cloud service context. 

However, characteristics related to individuals, such as enjoyment, user expectations, relationship with developers and extrinsic motivation, received the least attention in the survey. In practice, this usually shows as the negligence of change management in implementation projects.  

We have listed three topics that should be kept in mind when chasing adoption success:  

1. Remember all three contexts: people, technology and organizational structures 

Analysis of technology, processes and methods in use is a fundamental part of implementation project planning and execution. However, the adoption of new cloud services affects and is affected by all three contexts: people, technology, and structures. As the survey results suggest, it is sometimes easy to forget the people, but with clear planning it can be prevented.  

2. Implementing new tools and processes requires managing the change 

New solutions and new ways of working will impact business processes, roles, and responsibilities especially when standardizing processes and moving them to cloud platforms. Change management helps to facilitate the adoption of new tools and practices, minimize change resistance, and enhance user experience. Structured approach tends to result in effective utilization of new technologies and wider benefit realization. The engagement of users, competence development and clear communication are just a few of the significant tools to enable positive changes.  

3. The choice of technology depends also on the trust towards the service provider 

Trust is a significant topic when it comes to cloud services. It brings up issues related to the control over service, data ownership, privacy and security. Therefore, the choice of technology depends also on trust towards the vendor. Service providers are responsible for the seamless running of cloud services and fulfilling the expectations. The organic trust is complemented with agreements and contracts.  

Writer: 
Kaisla Pakkanen
Business Consultant, Cloud Transformation Services

More information on BearingPoint Finland's Cloud Transformation Services:
Annukka Tirronen
Director, Cloud Transformation Services

Sources: 

1) Petter, S., DeLone, W. and McLean, E. R. (2013). Information Systems Success: The Quest for the Independent Variables. Journal of Management Information Systems, 29(4), pp. 7–62. 

2) Leavitt, H. J. (1965). Applied organizational change in industry: structural, technological and humanistic approaches. March, J. G. (ed.). Handbook of Organizations. Chicago, US: Rand-McNally, pp. 1144–1170. 

3) Taylor, S. and Todd, P. A. (1995). Understanding information technology usage: A test of competing models. Information Systems Research, 6(2), pp. 144–176. 

4) Gelderman, M. (2002). Task difficulty, task variability and satisfaction with management support systems. Information & Management, 39(7), pp. 593–604. 

5) Gefen, D. and Silver, M. (1999). Lessons Learned from the Successful Adoption of an ERP System. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference of the Decision Sciences Institutes. Greece, Athens, pp. 1054–1057. 

6) Giffin, K. (1967). The Contribution of Studies of Source Credibility to a Theory of Interpersonal Trust in the Communication Process. Psychological Bulletin, 68(2), pp. 104–120. 

7) Heiskanen, A., Newman, M. and Erklin, M. (2008). Control, trust, power, and the dynamics of information system outsourcing relationships: A process study of contractual software development. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 17(4), pp. 268–286. 

8) Lawrence, M. and Low, G. (1993). Exploring individual user satisfaction within user-led development. MIS Quarterly, 17(2), pp. 195–208. 

9) Szajna, B. and Scamell, R. W. (1993). The Effects of Information System User Expectations on Their Performance and Perceptions. MIS Quarterly, 17(4), pp. 493–516. 

10) Marble, R. P. (2003). A system implementation study: management commitment to project management. Information & Management, 41(1), pp. 111–123. 

11) Sabherwal, R., Jeyaraj, A. and Chowa, C. (2006). Information System Success: Individual and Organizational Determinants. Management Science, 52(12), pp. 1849–1864. 

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