IT user satisfaction: Distinguishing between the technology adoption and assimilation processes

Hinton, Matthew (2016). IT user satisfaction: Distinguishing between the technology adoption and assimilation processes. In: Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Information Systems Management (Silva, Paulo; Quaresma, Rui and Guerreiro, António eds.), Academic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd, Reading, UK, pp. 47–48.

Abstract

It has long been argued that a substantial gulf exists between the investment made in technology and the ability of organisations to realise significant improvements in business performance (Hinton, 2006; Iyengar et al, 2015). Drawing on theoretical developments from the Innovation and Technology Transfer fields a conceptual model has been developed and applied to the specific problem of the adoption and assimilation of information technology (IT). The conceptual model explores the congruence between technology deliverers and recipients, the values and perceptions of IT managers, and the values and perceptions of IT users, as 'service' clients.

Empirical evidence is gathered within a multinational petro-chemicals organisation. The first phase utilises responses to a questionnaire developed using service delivery concepts; most notably the SERVQUAL framework (Zeithaml et al.1981 onwards) and service co-production (Larsson & Bowen, 1989). This questionnaire is tested on a wide range of end-users, as well as IT support and technical staff. This identified, 1) significant heterogeneity within the user group, and 2) marked differences between users and the IT professionals. From this a model is derived that draws a distinction between the process of IT adoption and the process of IT assimilation. In the second phase, a set of follow-up interviews are undertaken that explore the adoption-assimilation model. Interviewees are selected from distinctive user clusters identified in the first phase. The clusters reflect differences in levels of discretionary usage, diversity of demand and disposition to participate, as well as skill and expertise and organisational position.

The substantive conclusions are that the nature of the role of IT professionals is dominated by relatively project orientated and technology orientated characteristics, exemplified by an over-emphasis on the tangible elements of service provision. This is in stark contrast to end-users who tend to be more process driven, and focussed on the non-tangible service components (such as responsiveness, reliability and empathy). This, in part, inhibits the ability of organisations to develop strategy and for organisations to consider the service function of IT. Furthermore, it is problematic for organisations to distinguish the adoption of an IT technological opportunity and the problems of assimilating that opportunity into the daily routine of the organisation and therefore for business advantage. Consequently, whilst the technological sophistication of IT increases, the innovative application does not. With its focus on the adoption and assimilation processes, the conceptual model offers a way to reframe our understanding from a user perspective rather than the technology driven perspective.

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