As business professionals, our collective goals always include being more productive. So we try and find the best productivity technology (usually in app form) to help keep our team at peak performance. The problem is, there are too many apps and we generally can't agree (as a team) on which one we want to use. So I guess you could say that we have a technology problem...because of technology.

A recent Forrester study reveals that the vast majority of workers, each using their preferred work-enhancing apps, must move outside of those apps to relay critical information, analysis and work produced to others via voice, email, text or chat. This breaks the audit trail of information workers, and clogs communication channels. In short, tools built to increase productivity have become, in many ways, counter-productive. Kind of ironic.

This was bound to happen at some point. Consider the following factors that have been evolving at breakneck speed in recent years:

  • Increasing demand for instant information and immediate communication
  • More specialized skills and responsibilities of individual workers
  • Growing need for inter-team/department collaboration
  • Cross-organizational initiatives involving customers, suppliers, and peer companies
  • Proliferation of disparate apps ("there's an app for that!", and that, and that...)
  • Multi-generational workforce, with each age group using favored tools

Enterprises know that better collaboration is needed, but having more apps doesn't necessarily equate to higher productivity. In fact, this dynamic is creating a "tax" on workers and enterprises, by scattering critical information and conversations across multiple databases and platforms. And most collaboration management work still takes place in disconnected Excel spreadsheets.

Bottom line is, you need to get your staff to agree on a platform - which is certainly not an easy task! This week, I sat down with Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet, a technology that is tackling the problem of "app overload" by creating a management platform that promises a more seamless, centralized experience. Because of his business, Mader has to understand the problems most offices face and shared some of his research with me.

Here are some ways to motivate your team to agree on one platform:

Select Your Platform Based on Ease of Learning

We're all busy and sometimes learning an entirely new technology is out of the question (I just had a horrible flashback of choosing a CRM back in was all Greek to me and I hated it. So needless to say, it didn't last long).

If the new platform is similar to one that people are familiar with, the adoption will be much easier. Mader explains that, "When the technology feels so familiar, the learning curve is short, and users can get instant gratification with work efficiency increases."

Leverage a Trend-setter

When you're trying to get your whole staff to adopt a new platform, it may be helpful to identify your office "trendsetter" and work with him/her to get everyone else onboard. "We see this all the time," says Mader. "It starts with one user managing a project (on the platform) that involves other collaborators, and before long many people begin to actively communicate and collaborate via the platform and it spreads like wildfire."

There are usually one or two people in every office who are great influencers. By using them to show the rest of your team the value and ease of your chosen platform, you stand to gain more organic adopters.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due!

One of the best productivity boosts you can give is telling someone they're doing a great job. As your team is adopting the new technology - call out the people who are using it creatively and efficiently. This will usually motivate them to keep up the good work and inspire others to really dig in. You can even gamify the whole experience by giving incentives to early adopters.

Getting a group of people with their own styles and likes to agree on one app is no easy feat. So respect the process and never underestimate the power of positive re-enforcement!