Why eSystems often fail: Change Management

Our professor talks about failure of implementation of technology to solve real-world business (including private/public sectors). It happens due to the gap between computer scientists/engineers and people who run processes/businesses/institutions. Yet another failure of such mass-level system: "Minister [of education] admits failure of e-system (for roll# slips)" (Dawn, Wed 9 March, p. 13).

Education ministry was supposed to give all roll # slips electronically; 17,000 roll # slips given manually. Maybe because they didn't do the ground work; without involving someone who understands every aspect of the business and understands what would be the benefits of the technology to the business.

People get over-excited by benefits of technology, but often fail to understand change management issues, both technical and behavioral. For instance, i worked on the pre-feasibility of online tuition center. Where you can lecture 40 students in a classroom, you can now teach thousands online through Skype for free. You can now have a computerized adaptive testing system in which computer adapts to the ability of students and give simpler questions to a struggling students, or more difficult to an expert one - helping each master at their own pace. We can create earning opportunity for so many talented teachers through 1-to-1, 1-to-many online tuition, textbook solutions, homework help - btw, this is not novel, its being done via Grockit.com & Cramster.com. Problem with these sites is that they don't offer local language education and require credit card payment. Fortunately students in Pakistan can now pay their bills via easyPaisa.

But there are many technical & behavioral challenges to it. 1st technical issue which can wipe out this business model on day 1 - load-shedding! 2nd, internet connections may not be very fast & reliable.

When you come to behavioral issues - these are really subtle. Some go to academies just for friends, some due of fear of teachers who force them, some may not adopt eTuition just because its not done in physical world, some would only go to an academy because their parents want them to. All of these have their own solution, fortunately! For instance, by creating a game-like, socially competitive learning environment - learning experience online can be very addictive when you can compete with students in quiz, practice session. Ever saw those badges on Khanacademy.org? It serves the purpose.


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