Digital Transformation: should you train employees or customers to adopt new technology?

Digital Transformation is all the rage at the moment – yes our old chum Change Management has had a rebrand. Pretty much every consultant and consultancy is professing to have the ‘silver bullet’ for success. Becoming a ‘digital’ company is really about making the most of the technology that has been available to consumers for years. The fact is most business systems and software pale in comparison.

Learning technology is no exception. There are hordes of software companies touting their wares, each less inspiring than the last. The trend at the moment is to go playful with the marketing in the hope that it will distract the buyer from the reality that it’s just another Learning Management System. “We’re here to save you from boring e-Learning” – bore off.

But as businesses get their act together and introduce new technology to their employees and customers, a change is needed. Both audiences are required to do something differently, whether it’s new ways of working or purchasing in a different way. A great example of this is how Starbucks is driving customers to adopt their mobile App, and thinking about ways to encourage and reinforce this behaviour.

In this example, lies the crucial difference between the customer and the employee experiences of transformation. Customers don’t get trained – at least not in the conventional sense. By contrast, I’ve worked with a client organisation (who shall remain nameless), which paid a team of around 6 people to operate and coach employees to use a document management system. To say it was an awful user experience is the understatement of the century.

But unfortunately, if an employee doesn’t like a particular user experience, she cannot just go elsewhere, she’s stuck with whatever she’s given. This lack of competition means the world of business is grossly unuseable in comparison to the relatively seamless experience of the average customer.

In the future, the most successful Digital Transformations will introduce mindsets, ways of working and software that work in both the business and customer environments. The same applies to Learning and Development. The most successful learning companies will be those who can bridge the gap between employee experience and customer experience.

A personal example which illustrates this point is Wix. I’ve recently set up as a freelance consultant and have been beavering away on a website. At every stage of the process I’m provided contextual guidance similar to what WalkMe is offering today. Once I’ve decided on some basic parameters I have complete control to drag and drop different styles onto the page – a behaviour I know from PowerPoint. The only real challenge is coming up with the copy, and yes it can be a little fiddly at times.

So, should you train employees or customers to adopt new technology? In the majority of cases, if the technology is any good, you shouldn’t have to. By applying basic user experience and marketing principles, businesses too can give employees tools that make them productive, and online experiences that make teams of Digital Transformation Consultants, a relic of a less enlightened time.

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Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

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