Instead of spending money on new technology, RIAs should make sure clients and staff are using the tools they already have.

With the turn of the calendar, we often set a number of goals for the year ahead. From a technology perspective, it is common to purchase new systems as part of the year’s goals for your firm. There is nothing particularly wrong with this plan; however, too often advisors miss opportunities to increase adoption among their clients and staff of their existing systems before investing in new ones. From front- to middle- to back-office systems, it is easy to get too comfortable with your current habits and adoption metrics.

The first question to ask is what are the adoption metrics for your existing systems. Too many firms have limited information regarding their adoption metrics, if they have any at all. Potential focus areas include log-in metrics for existing clients, CRM feature usage by employees, email open metrics for client communications and utilization of the most recent enhancements of your custodian’s or broker-dealer’s platform. These are just a few examples, but it is essential to measure the things that are most important for your firm.

In addition, remember to diversify your analysis of adoption metrics. If your adoption efforts are largely focused on your clients, then broaden your attention to areas that also include your employees and vice versa.

Challenge Your Assumptions

We all have our own opinions about what might cause our firms to reach a certain level of adoption for a specific system. The challenge, however, is recognizing that underlying assumptions may not be accurate, especially if they are based on old information. This can be a big problem when it impacts your willingness to change habits, pursue new methods and go for the next level of technology adoption.

For example, the firms that said years ago that “our clients don’t care about viewing their reports online” often fell behind when they realized that their clients’ technology behavior had changed. Be open to challenging the reasons behind your adoption results, particularly if you are not happy with the numbers.

Reaching the highest level of technology adoption is never easy. Speed bumps that delay your initiatives are common, and even turn into road blocks in your efforts to increase adoption. This is why it is important to have the endurance to continue to push forward instead of becoming content with your current metrics.

It helps to have an employee who is passionate about the solution lead the effort. It can’t simply be everyone’s job; it ultimately becomes nobody’s job. If this happens, it becomes much harder to achieve adoption goals because you do not have a central source of information and feedback — both critical components in helping you refine and improve your adoption strategy.

One of the best strategies for improving your adoption metrics is to take deliberate action at the user level. Consider showing your target adopter, whether a client or an employee, the benefits of the solution during a one-on-one meeting. Frequently, we encourage adoption through large-scale announcements. Such methods provide a good foundation, but it is the targeted approach that improves overall adoption. Furthermore, it strengthens your connection with the target adopter because they will appreciate the individual attention.

A final area to think about is whether or not the user has an incentive to use the solution. Running a contest can often work well; for example, enter each new user to win a gift card. You can consider using similar strategies with your employees as well to improve the adoption of internal technology solutions.

Ultimately, improving your technology adoption metrics is about focusing on the next level of value and return (however you measure it) based on your existing numbers. Being realistic about what can be achieved is also very important. If the adoption is currently low for a solution, celebrate different milestones as you make progress. Momentum is definitely a factor in reaching your technology adoption goals, and it is critical to keep that momentum on your side.

RIAs’ Ever-Changing Technology Needs

How well does your firm understand the changing technology needs of your prospects, clients and employees? In some respects, this is a moving target, and it doesn’t necessarily change at the same pace for each of these groups. It can be challenging to improve technology adoption if you are unsure whether a particular solution or product is still needed. This is a very simple concept, but it can be easily overlooked. You don’t want to be Kodak trying to sell more rolls of film when everyone is buying digital cameras.

— Read 10 Top Tech Toys for Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.