Why training is critical to fulfill the promise of new technology

Humans are creatures of habit, especially habits that make our lives and daily tasks easier. But habits and technology are often at odds with each other.  For example, in the 1980’s, business executives were reluctant to trade their paper rolodexes for computerized contact databases.  Every advance in technology, from color monitors, to email, to cloud-based file sharing, has pushed us to trade old habits for new – and on its own, that process is more likely to be a slow evolution than an overnight change.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that few businesses see the improvements promised by advocates of new technology. Last year, the New York Times ran an article,“Why the Economic Payoff From Technology Is So Elusive,” which noted that, despite an ever increasing amount of new technology and solutions designed to make us more productive, the actual rate of productivity growth from 2011 to 2015 was the lowest in 30 years!

For example, I’ve seen companies roll out Office 365 to their staff based in part on the promise of improved productivity. “It’s like having an extra 30 minutes every day!” “ROI of 150% or more!”

Presented with the new tools and features of Office 365, such as those outlined in this course by Bigger Brains offered through OpenSesame, employees will likely just use Outlook Excel just like they’ve done for years out of habit.  New tools like Planner, Teams, or Groups are overlooked. Exciting features like cloud collaboration are ignored.

This is where HR, IT, and learning and development professionals must team up to push people to embrace new tools that help them do their job in a more productive way and build new habits, not grumbling about how “the old way was better.”

Here are three tips for using training to help your organization realize the promise of new technologies:

  1. Choose new tools and features carefully.  Overloading people with training on tools or features that don’t apply to their job or don’t noticeably improve productivity is a sure fire way to generate resistance amongst your team.

  2. Test with early dopters first: Pick key stakeholders in important areas and involve them in the selection of new technology as well as training to use it effectively.  Their testimonials and enthusiasm will motivate the rest.

  3. Keep training updated: In a world where software and cloud products are often updated monthly, it can be a real challenge keeping your training materials relevant.  Choose partners who are committed to keeping their training materials fresh.

For more information on improving the productivity and skills of business professionals, check out elearning courses by publisher Bigger Brains offered by OpenSesame.