SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved in the world of communications since the early 1980s. He holds five United States...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Andrew Prokop | July 27, 2015 |

 
   

Let There Be Training

Let There Be Training User training is key to successful product adoption and thus business transformation.

User training is key to successful product adoption and thus business transformation.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pretty geeky guy. I am fascinated by new gadgets and clever software. Looking around my desk, I see at least nine different electronic widgets, gizmos, and questionably practical appliances. Even worse, I have an almost obsessive curiosity about what makes them do whatever it is that they do. Scattered amongst those gadgets are tools to take them apart and hopefully put them back together without ending up with too many "spare" parts.

This is why I am so interested in protocols. This is why I love sitting down with Wireshark traces deciphering call flows and client/server interactions. Frankly, this is why I started writing unified communications articles in the first place. I figure that if this stuff is exciting to me, it must be just as exciting to the rest of the world.

However, there is one thing about technology that doesn't excite me, and I run across it all the time -- technology that users don't understand. No, I am not talking about my kind of understanding involving screwdrivers and packet traces. I am talking about not understanding how technology is used, let alone used efficiently. I am talking about a company that puts a new application on its users' PCs without a lick of training. Sure, geeks like you and me will eventually figure it out, but the vast majority of folks will either struggle with it or not use it at all.

I see this all too often in the communications arena. A company will spend significant amounts of money on something like Skype for Business, install it on every desktop in the company, and then wonder why the adoption rate is so low. Now, I am not picking on Skype and saying that it's difficult to use. It has a number of features that are easily understood without training or a user manual.

However, there are many sophisticated and workplace transformational aspects that don't just jump out at you. You don't make a major investment in a unified communications product for presence jellybeans. You do it because you expect workforce efficiency, ongoing expense reductions, employee productivity, customer retention, and improved teamwork.

I travel around the country speaking at users groups and conferences. I also meet directly with companies, large and small. I speak to directors of IT, heads of contact centers, business unit leaders, and the worker bees that do a great deal of the heavy lifting. I've seen some very successful implementations of unified communications, but I have seen and heard of far too many halfhearted attempts.

I wish I had a dime for every time I've shown someone how to actually use a product on his or her PC or smartphone. While I love hearing someone say to me, "Wow, it can do that?" I am always tempted to say, "What's wrong with your IT department? You should have already known how to do that already."

Show Me the Way

There are many ways to avoid computers stuffed with unused and underused applications. The obvious solution is to provide user adoption training. This can come in multiple formats tailored to meet the needs of different learning styles.

Some people learn best in a classroom setting where an in-person instructor walks his or her students through a new product. A hands-on approach is ideal, but may not be necessary for all products. The important thing is to provide a forum that shows the product being used and allows for questions and answers.

Of course, training budgets have been slashed and herding students into a classroom may be deemed too expensive. However, that doesn't let you off the hook. There are alternatives.

Personally, I prefer a straight forward user guide with a library of video clips that explain some of the more complicated features and workflows of an application.

In some cases, a webinar or series of webinars is more than sufficient to train users. Even when classroom training is employed, these online resources are needed after training has occurred. It's also important that they be kept up-to-date to reflect new features or changes to older features. Outdated training is nearly as bad as no training at all.

For enterprises that don't want to invest in in-house training, third parties are often available to teach the ins and outs of a new application. This training often comes in the same formats as described above and can be delivered in person or off-site.

Bring in the Evangelist

User training is certainly important, but just as important are technical evangelists. These are people who are so excited about a product that they need to make the rest of the company feel the exact same way. They spread their knowledge and excitement through emails, workshops, personal webinars, or by becoming the go-to power users. I have seen a drastic increase in product adoption simply because the excitement of these people becomes contagious. Users stop being afraid of that new thing on their PC after they see the amazing things it can do.

The point is that technology is exciting, and maybe I should stop complaining because as a reader of No Jitter you already know that. It can radically change your job, your life, and the lives of your coworkers and customers. This is especially true about unified communications products and services. However, misunderstood technology can hinder and actually drive down productivity.

We live in a time where every corporate dollar spent should be scrutinized. Don't waste good money on unused software. Don't sacrifice your employees' productivity on poorly understood applications. Embrace change, but be prepared to light the light and show the way.

Can I get a witness?

Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.

Follow Andrew Prokop on Twitter and LinkedIn!
@ajprokop
Andrew Prokop on LinkedIn





COMMENTS



August 16, 2017

Contact centers have long been at the leading edge of innovation in communications technology, given their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to optimize customer interactions and sta

July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.