Some people don’t like change. Their watchword is usually ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. They’re the sort of people who like routine, stability and a degree of certainty in life.
So you can imagine how irritated and annoyed those people get when workplace changes occur, often beyond their control and affecting the most routine of things, their daily use of software.
Whenever a new software system or a significant update happens, workflow must change the way that people input data, search for results and interact with their workstation screens. Their workplace world is soon turned upside down.
When this happens, HR departments or IT managers usually schedule re-training sessions, sometimes classroom based or maybe via Zoom calls for those working from home. In either case, whichever of these two methods is chosen, they have several elements in common: they’re unpopular with staff, time consuming, inefficient and expensive. The main reason for the lack of efficiency is simple – when personnel are being trained for a new process, unless they are actually carrying that process out in real life terms, notes and mocked-up exercises are soon forgotten. Not least, the classroom style training session is deeply unproductive, taking staff away from their workstations for hours at a time, affecting bottom line profit.
What’s needed is a way to train staff on software adoption changes efficiently and without ruining their day! Fortunately, help is at hand with the concept of a digital adoption platform.
DAPs work by training people to use software as they interact in their normal workflow; offering helpful tips and prompts as and when the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the DAP detects if a user is making an error or perhaps is about to do so. The AI also hyper-personalizes its output; each person has a DAP account, so when they log in, the DAP already knows if the person regularly struggles with certain aspects of their interaction with the software in question.
In this way, the DAP only interrupts the user when necessary, rather than displaying distractive tooltips at every screen. Once the user becomes competent in any given aspect of their software use, the DAP no longer needs to intervene.
Carrying on a conversation with your computer
Such platforms are considerably less invasive and irritating to users than rigid training sessions, whilst retaining productivity levels because people are learning while they are still earning revenue for the company. Using a DAP is like having a friendly colleague helping along at your desk, but only appearing when they are needed.
Naturally, with ongoing advancements in AI, it’s not going to be long before DAPs make software adoption even easier, by being able to answer employee questions via typing or voice, using advanced computational linguistics known as ‘conversational AI’ – a direct result of stellar advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP).
It’s no longer science fiction to imagine the following scenario, which is already a reality in some EdTech (educational technology) language teaching software packages:
James Kirk is working from home and trying to update his company’s cloud-based CRM with some customer details, but every time he reaches the ZIP code field on the customer address screen, the system rejects his changes. The DAP shows an error message such as ‘only numeric characters can be input in this field’. But that’s what James is trying to do. In frustration he talks into his headset: “Computer, why can’t I input this ZIP code?” The AI in the DAP then answers in speech via his earphones – “because you’re trying to use an uppercase O instead of a numeric zero on your keyboard. It’s a number Jim, but not as we know it…”
Staying cool about cyber security
Of course, the other issue about employees working from home (WFH) on their own devices is the problematic concept of cyber-security. A WFH employee logging onto a company’s cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) platform, sometimes even from that employee’s personal laptop, is a security engineer’s nightmare waiting to happen.
Who knows if Mrs. Washington’s teenaged eco-warrior son isn’t going to use his Mom’s work computer while she’s asleep and wipe out half of an oil company’s CRM system!? Aside from malicious humans, malware and ransomware are just waiting to install themselves via trojans onto remote workers’ machines. So isn’t it better if employees don’t work from home at all? Fortunately, the use of company based Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the fact that DAPs will work in the cloud alongside the primary software, combines the best of training and security under the same umbrella.
Finally, moving away from the workplace use of DAPs, with all the connectivity nowadays of our home appliances via the Internet of Things, it’s soon going to be possible to phone your fridge on a voice call, ask it how chilly it’s feeling and would it please go a bit colder in its beer section, as you’re on your way home after a long day. Pretty much the definition of the word ‘cool’!
In every aspect of our lives, work and leisure, the way we interact with computers, not least how to use them without scowls, is going to change for the better, and that can only put a smile on anyone’s face.