Like any business function, whether it be accounting, marketing, business development, or sales, it’s important to stay on the cutting-edge of the skills and tools you need to successfully do your job.
We constantly say it, but only because it’s a key variable in where the world is heading; technology is on the rise, and it is a part of every job function. Staying ahead of where your job currently is means exploring options that will help enable you to do your job and keep up with the rest of the world.
No matter how much “testing” you may be doing on new technological solutions to help you, there is obviously a gap when it comes to simply trialing a service, versus actually executing large scale deployment and buy-in. We have all been there – we have tried a new product or service and have said “Wow, I think this is a powerful tool that could really help me in my job” only then to not have the budget, or not be able to deploy at-scale. When it comes to implementing new technology, IT can sometimes feel like the enemy and you may not have an influential advocate on the business-side of things. It can feel like the entire solution is almost hopeless to try and deploy successfully.
It’s possible to get successful learning technology buy-in. But it needs to be approached in the right way.
In a CLO Show interview with Sanjay Parker, Former Director of Thought Leadership and Innovation for Xerox Learning Services, he explained a few steps to get innovative technology into the enterprise space.
1) Create a Relationship With I.T.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is: “Who is the I.T. team?” If you work in a large corporation, you may not know. Sometimes I.T. can find themselves in the same shoes as you. When Sanjay started in I.T. he said that one thing he and his team disliked was being “reactive order-takers.” Sound familiar? The typical relationship with I.T. usually follows the famous saying of: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” I.T. faces this every single day.
It’s important to be communicating with I.T. just as it is important to communicate with other business functions. An example of the power in having a good, working relationship with I.T. is when Sanjay got into the world of learning, he and his team deployed a course to 95,000 people. Everything was going smoothly until they found out that there was a Global load-set change that took away scripting in Adobe Reader. They had created beautiful PDF forms for Level One feedback, and now they no longer worked.
Having a solid relationship with IT can help you accomplish your tech-adoption goals.
The team went to I.T. to resolve the issue and got it resolved quickly because it was essentially a fire-drill. The team explained to I.T. that they had been using Adobe Reader scripting for years – why was it changed without them being notified? Turns out, I.T. had no idea what Sanjay’s team was using, since there had been turnover and the same people were not there anymore. From this, it became obvious that they needed better communication. They worked to solve the issue by adding the L&D team to the executive committee for technology planning so that they could be informed of changes.
We suggest being a better business advocate by ensuring you go to I.T. in advance, communicate what you are trying to do, and asking them what they think. When you bring I.T. in as trusted business advisors and give them the credit they deserve for helping to bring in new technology that will make positive impact to the business, the entire relationship can change and grow.
2) Research “Safe” Choices You Can Go Out and Test Today
When it comes to “safe” choices – there is a plethora of them. Bringing in new technology solutions used to be a very technical chore. With the increase in SaaS (Software as a service) solutions, bringing in and using new technologies has never been easier. Free trials are commonplace, even with more costly solutions so you can “try” before you “buy.”
Some companies need custom solutions, in which case the safest method would be first, trialing if you like the core-product and then moving forward with a proof of principle (PoP) and pilot program. This makes the technology onboarding low-risk and easy for everyone to work through.
3) The Crawl, Walk, Run methodology
When it comes to bringing in new technology to the enterprise, we’ve heard companies say that “they don’t think they are ready” or “aren’t sure how to get buy-in.” Adopting a new technology can change the way an organization runs and the way people do things at work. It’s a long-term commitment and certainly can merit hesitation. To keep adoption as low-risk as possible, we live by crawl, walk, run. This method also helps you, as the learning professional, help secure buy-in and organizational readiness by breaking the adoption down into chunks that are easy to digest.
We have seen it happen – L&D runs into the executive office, excited about a new technology that can give them amazing insights about their training, only then to see the executives eyes start to glaze over. Instead, talk about the ROI of this technology to the executive and implement a Proof of Principle (PoP) to show that what you are proposing, works. You can then take this PoP and turn it into a pilot program that you’ll test with a small, sampled team. Make sure you do your due-diligence on research before you reach for the PoP. If you bring in a PoP that turns into a failure, stakeholders will be wary about bringing in any similar technologies in the near future.
What happens when the pilot doesn’t get approved immediately?
You still have the PoP. Use this to accelerate buy-in. If you believe in it and that it could help your organization, maybe others will too! Work to get a “support group” including I.T. and other stakeholders that share your vision for this product. Even if your company doesn’t have budget or buy-in just yet, you should still be using your PoP to get data and show impact. That way, when the budget is there, you’ll have a power-stance of proof to get adoption for the pilot.
Have questions about getting started with any of these steps? Riptide’s team is always ready to help – Schedule a short 30min consultation to get started.