The Effects of Technological Change on Organizations and Employees
Change is the only constant in the universe according to Heraclitus (Foster, 2020). While certainly true in life, it is also true in Information Technology (IT). Technological change in IT environments can have significant effects on both organizations and employees. This paper will examine how IT changes can affect both companies and their people and how leaders should manage the impact of disruptive technological changes via a proper organizational change management strategy.
Pace of Technological Change
It is almost universally understood that the pace of technological change has skyrocketed. According to the Center for New American Security (CNAS) (2017), “Technology is changing our world at an astonishing pace. In a few short years, the internet, mobile devices, and social media have transformed how we communicate and get information about the world” (para. 1). Notwithstanding Hirsch’s (2021) view that over the long term, change has not been overly dramatic, living during such changes can feel dizzying to both people and organizations.
There are new vectors for IT to become part of and that leads to even more change as previously analogue processes become digitized (Center for New American Security, 2017). A good example of this change is the Internet of Things (IoT) according to CNAS (2017). The IoT is “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with Unique Identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction” (Gillis, 2022, para. 1). Examples of IoT include home automation devices e.g. Amazon’s Alexa, Supervisory Control and Data Automation (SCADA) systems for industrial organizations, and connected vehicles.
Effects of Technological Change
As the pace of technological change increases, organizations will need to accommodate and adapt. Organizations need to recognize that its offices and work sites will operate in an increasingly digitized world with new ‘smart solutions’ and interconnected networks and systems (Mayer, 2020). Organizations will increasingly see the world of work as a sharing of information to improve efficiencies and market placement.
According to Mayer (2020), organizations should expect to consider new ways of working as these changes occur. They need to prepare for the fears and anxieties these new work paths will bring to their employees as well. The pace of change will unsettle many; citing Hirschi (2018), Mayer (2020) says, “Employees will need to address and reassess the question of meaning and meaningfulness at work” (p. 673). One way to address these employee concerns is with a proper change management plan that can address technological change.
Managing Technological Change
There are many academic theories about change. Each purports to have a model that best describes how organizations can manage change to the benefit of their organization. Common examples include the ADKAR model, and change management models from Kotter and Lewin. However, for this process, the ADKAR model is the recommended approach.
ADKAR is a change management model centered on five competencies: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement (ADKAR) (Kiani & Shah, 2014). Using the ADKAR model, organizations can create a plan that allows it to address the challenges posed by technological change. By using the ADKAR model for change management, the organization can show it possesses an awareness of the problem it faces and a desire to address the concern (Kiani & Shah, 2014). Organizations can also acquire the knowledge necessary to address the pace of change because it will work to address its lack of necessary abilities and skills; further, an ADKAR-based plan can introduce the reinforcement mechanisms when necessary to ensure consistency in the face of change (Kiani & Shah, 2014). With this plan in place, organizations will harness these changes for their benefit.
As long as humans continue to use technology, its pace will seem to increase especially for those living in its midst. Such change can have a detrimental and disorienting effect on both organizations and their members. This will lead to productivity losses across the organization as employees struggle to make sense of the changes. Only by effectively managing these changes can organizations gain the full advantage of such technological upheaval for their benefit.
Center for New American Security. (2017, July 19). Making sense of rapid technological change. Center for a New American Security. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.cnas.org/publications/commentary/making-sense-of-rapid-technological-change
Foster, T. (2020, April 9). Change is the only constant. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.fmlm.ac.uk/news-opinion/change-is-the-only-constant
Gillis, A. S. (2022, March 4). What is IOT (internet of things) and how does it work? IoT Agenda. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.techtarget.com/iotagenda/definition/Internet-of-Things-IoT
Hirsch, T. (2021, September 30). The pace of technological change is faster than ever before. Or is it? Entrepreneur. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/the-pace-of-technological-change-is-faster-than-ever/386410
Hirschi, A. (2018). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Issues and implications for career research and practice. The Career Development Quarterly, 66(3), 192–204. https://doi.org/10.1002/cdq.12142
Kiani, A., & Shah, M. H. (2014). An application of ADKAR change model for the change management competencies of school heads in Pakistan. Journal of Managerial Sciences, 8(1), 77–96.
Mayer, C.-H. (2020). Key concepts for managing organizations and employees turning towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. International Review of Psychiatry, 32(7–8), 673–684. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2020.1803220