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Kickstarting Your
Tech Value Chain

The Art of Adopting Recruitment Marketing Technology




The Stalled Value Chain


The Research


The Pieces of Successful Adoption


T-Mobile's Story                 


Planning for Adoption


The Top 6 Questions


Creating Demand for the Tech


Training, Then Retraining, Then Retraining


Ensuring a Solid Vendor Partnership         


Supporting the Initiative Top Down

A Note from the Authors

Struggle with HR tech adoption


"We’ll integrate when we see success."

“If it's not adding value, it's tough to compel somebody to use it.”

“Once you show them efficiency, they’re interested.”

Welcome to the stalled value chain. How do you get people to adopt a piece of technology when they don’t see the value or the performance before you have the data to prove it? 82% of organizations struggle with adoption challenges. We’re here to show you the reasons why. 

Between Gina’s experience in consumer-based experiential marketing and Sheri’s expertise in talent acquisition at large brands, the team has seen their fair share of poor adoption. They’ve seen a variety of technologies adopted at a variety of companies, all in different stages of the brand’s journey. No matter where you are in your journey, we’re all experiencing change. Most of us will go through—or are going through—a transformation. 

Top of mind for all of us in the talent acquisition industry is over 10 million open jobs, meaning 1 million more open requisitions than job seekers. Right now, it’s harder than ever to find, attract, and retain talent. Simply put, technology is the answer. 74% of organizations see spending for HR tech increasing. However, technology can also complicate already complex situations. Adoption seems to be the barrier that we can break together.

Gina (1200 x 600 px) (1)


The Research

Gina Alioto, Head of Brand and Experience, conducted qualitative research from a representative sample of Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Marketing Technology leaders Director level+ from 15 global organizations, many in the Fortune 500. Participants represent a great range of industries from healthcare, retail, hospitality, technology, and sciences.

Gina worked with Sheri Ratliff, Director of Talent Acquisition at T-Mobile, to analyze this research and add insights from a practitioner in the space. 

 Gina Alioto

VP of Brand & Transformation, Symphony Talent 

Sheri Ratliff

Director of Talent Acquisition, T-Mobile

The Pieces of Successful Adoption

As mentioned previously, 82% of companies struggle with tech adoption. It shows that these companies, regardless of size and industry, are experiencing the same challenges. Patterns developed after interviewing a representative sample of global talent leaders with extensive experience in large technology implementations. The top six are common themes that TA leaders emphasized in describing successful implementation and adoption—and—the things lacking in unsuccessful implementation and adoption. 

  1. Planning for the integration and adoption
  2. Socializing the adoption within the company
  3. Training, then retraining, then retraining
  4. Supporting the initiative from the top down - starting with leadership support
  5. Making tech mandatory and generating demand for the new tech
  6. Ensuring a solid vendor partnership

This is probably nothing new to you. These are not groundbreaking concepts. It is solely a reinforcement of the importance of the six themes and how they work synergistically together.

We’ve all heard these things before, yet the majority of organizations still struggle with adoption. The issue is in “the how.”

T-Mobile Team
T-Mobile's Story

The challenge: T-Mobile had no talent community, a system that was difficult to modify, multiple different tools and systems to make up the talent landscape. There were 1,000+ people in the sourcing reqs, and the reqs were open for upwards of an entire year, with the need to simplify and improve that experience. T-Mobile also had a long and intensive application experience, upwards of 45 minutes, and the application was not a mobile-first design.

The solution: T-Mobile and its acquired company, Sprint, brought together what were previously 3+ separate platforms operating in silos, CRM-like system, career site, and job distribution through SmashFlyX.

The result: With SmashFlyX, T-Mobile not only has access to data, but data from the talent community, giving them the ability to source that talent effectively, track where the talent is coming from, and automate the recruitment marketing process.

This was the beginning of using technology to do a lot of the talent acquisition tasks manually. But that technology needed to be adopted and integrated correctly before they could see the value. 








The Power of People

“Adoption is just one part. The bigger goal is developing a workforce and culture that hone the types of relationships, behaviors and skills that speed innovation. If the work culture doesn’t support the change—people can feel left out, mistrusted, or they could work against change.” (PWC)


The Power of Planning

Adoption is not a one-size-fits all. Things don’t go perfectly. That said, most of the 82% that struggle with adoption challenges are linked back to poor planning.

Analyze the situation: Before the technology is even selected or introduced, understand your business processes, map it out, and build your plan against that. Less about the plan itself, but rather the preparation exercise so that brands can be agile and spot the land mines in advance. What’s asked of your hiring managers, recruiters, sourcers in their day-to-day? Where are they spending their time? 

At T-Mobile, there were several new systems in place that were not being used. They had two different CRMs, four different systems that made up the career site, job distribution, countless media solutions, and an ATS that no one liked. They quickly found that, even though a CRM was implemented, the tools weren’t in place. They had to dig into what was happening behind the scenes to ensure the technology was as simple as possible for users.


The Top 6 Questions to Analyze & Plan

1. What is the real problem you’re trying to solve? What are you hoping this technology will do for you? What is your greatest fear? Share that openly as a team and share it with your tech vendor. T-Mobile went through an end-to-end review of the recruiter and candidate journey, determined the pain points, reviewed the systems and tools, and built the strategy to go forward. They completed a brief with what needed to be done, reviewed by an HR peer group, approved by senior leadership, prioritized, and then assessed, designed, and built.

2. Do we need to evaluate our process and experience? Work to redesign business processes and overall experience, which is proving to increase adoption rates and, in the process, gets teams excited for the new technology when those happen at the same time. Evaluate your current processes and establish process guidance for the latest technology: how the new technology fits into that process so that it's not another massive system on top of the existing.

3. How do we define success and how will we measure it? Shift from usability reports defining your success to being outcomes-driven. Have very clear desired business results, meet with the different roles and responsibilities that would be impacted by the platform (they were speaking about their CRM), and from there you’re able to celebrate successes, build for continuous improvement and then start to involve the maturation of how that CRM is being used. Let usage inform where adoption is good or where you need to focus on and drive up adoption. Put more emphasis on the business outcomes.

4. What is needed to set this up for success? This also speaks to accountability and leadership support. The top 3 needs to set up adoption for success are integrations, implementation plan, and a dedicated project management team. What types of integrations are required? What is necessary for your implementation, and what are the consequences of not implementing certain features upfront due to costs and timeline? And, have someone with you who knows what kind of questions to ask, and when to ask them - someone who can think about the “what else?”.

5. What does a realistic timeline look like? Other TA leaders warn not to set an artificial timeline based on an unrelated business objective without respect for the time needed to do things right the first time and not have to go back to fix problems.

6. Who are your key stakeholders? Can you gain their buy-in? This speaks to the importance of leadership support. For adoption to be successful, you must first make sure your organization believes in this and obtain executive leadership stakeholder buy-in from the top down. Appoint an executive sponsor and a team of executives that support the vision for the technology and well-understood the problems were (and how that would be solved with the technology) and not just at a high level. Enlist a task force: a combination of HR and technology teams. Consult outside of your organization with your peers in TA from organizations and brands that you respect.

HubSpot Video



Associate a Name and Icon

There’s great power in branding your initiative. Leverage your employer brand to drive awareness and socialization of the new technology across your organization. Branding can be as simple as a name and a vision statement. It validates your effort and promises consistency. You’re telling your employees: this is something that will be here for a while. And, a name injects emotion and an element of fun into the change experience, something that people can rally around and want to be a part of.

Another simple way to brand your initiative is to use your employer brand, colors and create an icon. At T-Mobile, they created “Let’s Break to Educate” to both socialize and conduct training.



Show the “What’s In It For Me?”

Branding and socializing require you to show the “what’s in it for me?” Just like a well-orchestrated marketing campaign, leverage an omnichannel strategy to socialize the technology and generate demand. Your audience groups are your key stakeholders, your leadership team, influencers, end-users, and your greater organization. Each of these audiences needs personalized messages with information that is relevant to them. This is not about the volume of communication but rather about being strategic with your communication designed to generate demand (to influence and drive change). 

At T-Mobile, they found that one of the most important keys to driving adoption is building trust. The biggest barrier for many recruiters and hiring managers is the thought of losing control and whether or not they will have the power to do what they need to do within the new tool. 



Partner with the Marketing Team

Newton’s Second Law is F = M x A, meaning the more significant the change, the more force. Partner with IT, Legal, HR Teams, HR communications (for change communications), Finance, Marketing (branding and content development) to ensure the new technology is communicated across your organization. Empower internal influencers (and appoint knowledge experts, super users, tech advisors, tech ambassadors). Start with the ambassadors, get their adoption first, and work your way to the resistors. 

Sheri teamed up with different functions within T-Mobile to ensure clear communication of the initiative. She found her "super users" from each function to create a group of early adopters.


No More Training Manuals

The old model might have been to roll something out with a training guide (and then cross your fingers!) Organizations see successful tech adoption when they approach learning as an interactive journey. 

We all know that people consume and retain information in different ways, so consider different learning styles. Provide multiple resources that answer the same/similar questions. During training, don’t just show system capabilities; make it hands-on. Present a typical task/problem and have trainees figure it out themselves (with guidance). Meet 1:1 with those a little more hesitant. Draw comparisons to the tool [or method] that they're always used to. Create quick two-minute YouTube videos to show the step-by-step. Offer a 24-hour help desk seven days a week manned by SMEs. Continue this training and retraining, along the whole process, throughout post-implementation for two months, six months, a year, and beyond. 

In T-Mobile’s "Let's Break to Educate" sessions, they train, and it’s iterative constant. You get to a place where users feel complacent and don't voice their opinions anymore, so you invite their feedback. Instead of accepting, find out why. Users might say the reporting isn't accurate or not useful, or they find a workaround and stop using it. It requires constant follow-through.



"Our tech partner is an extension of our team."

Successful implementation and adoption start with a strong technology partner and a reliable platform. "Tech adoption happens when the vendor provides outstanding customer support, and it fails when they don't."

TA leaders invited the technology partner from their implementation team to webinar sessions and training sessions. Technology without an expert account management team is just another meaningless piece of tech. Be flexible, listen to your vendors to get the maximum value out of the product overall.

Support and Sustain

Support and sustain the change. Adoption isn’t one-time. It’s ongoing. In most cases, even if you had funding upfront, it’s the first thing that’s cut down the road. Organizations underestimate the importance of supporting and sustaining the change. It’s typically an “implement and walk away” mindset - you don’t get to determine your ROI, and you don’t get to improve it.

Organizations that have adoption success make sure from the very beginning that the technology is as accessible and convenient as possible (for example, single sign-on) so that it’s embedded in work life. There is ongoing communication and sharing in success (celebration, success stories, reporting progress and results to stakeholders)

There is flexibility: adjust and optimize. If something isn’t working, continuously analyze and improve. Reiterate leadership support and accountability.


A Final Note

Increasing the adoption of technology is crucial for success. Planning, sociability, and the rest of the pieces to the pie will drive your future success of implementation and adoption.

However, low adoption is not necessarily a failure if automation does its job and your business outcomes are higher.

You’re creating a culture and brand around this new tool. Technology adoption is important, but think about what you’re holding people accountable for, log-ins, and their time in the tool? Or an overall better experience and business success?


Learn More

Are you struggling with adoption at your company? Learn more about Gina's research & Sheri's experience. Fill out the form below to chat with the authors.

About Symphony Talent

Software that works for you, and a joy to work in. Symphony Talent is a recruitment marketing technology company that helps recruitment teams automate tasks for efficiency and empower smarter candidate interactions. Its SmashFlyX platform unifies CRM, career site, and programmatic advertising for the most comprehensive talent campaigning and marketing in the industry. As an employer brand and creative partner, Symphony Talent has won major awards for EVP strategy, employer brand campaigns, career site design, and more. The company supports more than 600 customers across the globe, with headquarters in New York, London, Bangalore, and Belfast. Through SmashFlyX, Symphony Talent is leading a movement in partnership with the customer community and industry at large to help recruiters get the world back to work faster and with an exceptional experience. Learn more at symphonytalent.com and thejoypipeline.com/. Follow us on Twitter @SymphonyTalent_