Know your technology to improve performance

L&D are crucial to understanding how technologies can improve learning at work but which to use? Ross Stevenson shows how to use these tools for performance improvement

Do you know that the average company offers their employees over 88 different applications to use in their workflow?
Are you aware of all the apps available to you from your company today? Probably not!
This is where the problem starts when trying to help workforces make the most of their technology stacks. According to research from the identity management company, Okta, through their 10,000 clients, they discovered that 88 is only the average number of apps available to employees today.
For companies with over 2,000 employees, this can increase to over 176 different applications to choose from to do your work. 
While that might sound like a good thing as we have many tools to choose from to complete work. That very volume of choice is the exact problem. We’re all drowning in so much digital technology, it’s near impossible to know what is useful.
As remote and hybrid work becomes the first choice for many organisations in today’s world, supporting people in knowing how to make the most of the technology a company has is not only essential for productivity but a critical factor in determining financial return on investment (ROI) too.
We’re all drowning in so much digital technology, it’s near impossible to know what is useful
Having 88 different applications is great, yet if they aren’t being used, that’s money down the drain.
So, the two challenges organisations face are:
1. Supporting employees in using digital technologies to improve productivity and performance.
2. Getting a return on investment from their technology infrastructure.
The good news is learning and development teams can play a vital role in this.
Dispersed workforces mean an over-reliance on digital technologies to connect, communicate and collaborate. The barrier for many has been recognising just how much support their current technology can provide.
Two of the world’s most popular collaboration apps are Slack (average 12 million active users) and Microsoft Teams (average 75 million active users) and they have become the centralised temples of where work gets done for many.
However, both apps are underused by the general population as they’re viewed as just messaging apps when they are so much more.
This is not just exclusive to collaboration apps. 
You’ll find many unused, forgotten or unknown apps across your technology stack with untapped potential. We’re often too quick to purchase that new shiny thing before we investigate what we already have.
There are two things we can do to change this:
1. Support people in being smarter with the technology they already have to improve their performance.
2. Challenge internal teams to investigate what they have before chasing that shiny new thing.
To help people be smarter and make the most of what they have:
Make use of channels to crowdsource workplace tech tips and tricks on your collaboration tools.
Create quick and info-rich engagement campaigns highlighting tools and tips for making the most of apps straight to your employee’s inbox. They won’t search for info on features they don’t know exist.
Educate yourself and your own teams for free with Microsoft’s 365 Digital learning workspace and Google Digital Garage. Most, if not all the apps you use today offer free libraries of resources and training, you just have to look!
Create on-demand digital toolkits for managers by pivoting their in-person activities to the hybrid world through existing tech stack. Examples might be Miro and Microsoft Whiteboard for collaboration, Zoom for connectivity and Microsoft Teams to facilitate continued team discussion. The free and paid options are endless.
Tech can help do some of the heavy lifting. You can use Slack and MS Teams to automate messages, respond to generic questions with bots and auto-responders, and create project campaigns. This can save you hours of work.
Our second challenge is understanding what you already own across your technology stack. Using this framework when making a technology-related decision can help you find the right apps and maybe even save money. Before you talk about buying any new product, do take note of the following suggestions.


Engage with your local technology infrastructure team to understand what applications your company currently has that could solve the challenge you face. 
Your infrastructure teams are normally responsible for managing a company’s workplace technology stack. They’ll be able to advise on what could be useful to achieve your goals. You might just find that you have what you already need.
There’s a high probability that you have applications in your workplace technology solutions which are being underutilised. 
Many of today’s modern tools do much more than one thing and you’ll find almost 99% include more product features. If you’re using a product that is well-adopted within the company already, it’s worthwhile exploring if it offers any other features that can serve your needs.
Too many times companies make new purchases without fully understanding what their current commonly used apps could offer. Don’t make that same mistake!
The last part of the process is to take time to reflect on what you’ve discovered.
You may find you have what you need or that you do need that new purchase. Whatever the outcome, taking a moment to consider the impact of each option on time to deploy, cost and learning curve for employees are essential factors to evaluate.
Perhaps by trying these approaches you too can improve performance through technology in your company. 
It was Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who said: “Doing more with less means applying technology to amplify what you can do and what an organization can achieve in today’s world”.
I’m sure that’s something we can all support as learning and development professionals.
Ross Stevenson is learning strategist at Steal These Thoughts Find out more at LinkedIn 

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