It’s New Year’s resolution time, so let’s get right to it. Technology has had a profound effect on how we live and work. In our countless daily ‘digital’ interactions—big and small—we experience technology’s benefits. But just as often, we encounter its frustrations.

Our resolution at Vitalyst is to help make it better, really. Our approach is called Digital Adoption Services (DAS) and focuses on both what and how individuals learn, to move them to the appropriate competency level required for a specific role or situation. But why this approach? Let’s start by peeling back on some of the root causes of technology frustration.

How many of us, regardless of generational identification, have been overwhelmed or become stuck when learning new things, especially software applications? It’s almost universal and most apparent when we’re trying something for the first time, especially in a pressured environment. This applies across a broad spectrum of roles, from a highly visible hotel front desk clerk, or an airline counter or retail associate trying to accommodate a customer, to the behind-the-scenes challenges of a call center, factory technician or finance professional struggling with a customer service, machine control or expense modeling application.

The nuance in addressing this is partly what we know—that everyone learns differently, and stress and lack of situational experience reduce our ability to process things clearly. This is simplistically revealed every day when we’re behind someone driving an unfamiliar route, ordering at a new coffee shop or entering a building for the first time. They don’t ‘know the process,’ which frustrates them and often those around them. At the extremes, this is why highly critical jobs such as an airline pilot, medical caregiver, air traffic controller or soldier are practiced in both procedure and intense situational learning.

The part we’re all less explicitly attuned to is the multiplier effect of many new ways of doing things coming at us at once and demanding our competency, especially in digital applications. Much of the cliché Millennial vs. Baby Boomer facility with technology is rightly attributed to Millennials being raised in a digital world and their eagerness to seek and navigate self-help tools, such as YouTube. This aside, many Baby Boomers have spent a majority of their lives and careers in a world with personal computers and broad-based applications such as the Microsoft suite. They might be slower adopters, but they are usually not unaware adopters.

This problem—or opportunity—can be framed as the “Last Mile Challenge.” This means that while an incredible amount of talent, resource and effort has often been applied to designing, developing and delivering new technical capabilities, ranging from business system platforms to mobile apps, a lot less attention has been given to enabling people to effectively use or realize an application’s potential—the last mile.

The part we’re all less explicitly attuned to is the multiplier effect of many new ways of doing things coming at us at once and demanding our competency, especially in digital applications.

In a recent SADA Systems survey, 350 IT professionals were asked what worked and what didn’t when implementing digital technology tools and new operational methods. Among the survey’s key findings:

Some 27 percent said their digital transformations would have been more successful if their organization had focused more on ensuring communication between IT staff and other employees. Additionally, 22 percent said better training for employees was needed, while 14 percent expressed a lack of technical support for using the new digital tools.

Several takeaways jump out from this feedback. From a glass-is-half-empty perspective, it’s sobering that these comments are from IT professionals. One can imagine how the end-users feel. It’s also not a huge shock in that there’s hardly any student, worker or consumer—regardless of demographics—who hasn’t experienced this across both large and small ‘digital’ interactions.

Why does this happen? Generally not because designers and developers don’t want their creations to be used and buyers don’t want value. The better answer—“it’s complicated.” Every user, team, department, business or enterprise is different, and delivering the last mile is hard. Think of an internet service company. Every step in an installation is standard until a technician shows up at someone’s home or business, which is why companies like eero and Google Wi-Fi are addressing that space.

We all want to realize the tremendous potential the digital age offers. Fortunately, from a glass-is-half-full perspective, there’s a lot we can do through digital adoption tools to get more out of the ubiquitous technology around us.

Digital adoption focuses on applying a blend of enablement tools to achieve an outcome, such as Excel or Power BI proficiency, and calibrates to each user’s starting point and learning style. An example might be a department that is lagging in seeing the benefits of collaboration tools, with less than 10 percent engagement, resulting in a corresponding lack of productivity. A blend of self-help tools—guides, videos and walk-up tutorial Productivity Opportunity Desks (PODs)—plus a targeted call-out program to staff who need extra help, could drive full proficiency and, just as importantly, higher user satisfaction leading to continued tool usage.

In this case, as with many applications, the issue is not the software or the system, but the connection with users in a relevant way. Select specialized service providers, like Vitalyst, are at the forefront of digital adoption and enablement in terms of understanding the “Last Mile” challenge and applying a blend of tailored solutions to achieve and advance proficiency. In fact, our Digital Adoption Services are specifically designed to facilitate effective acceleration of digital engagement, with a dedicated focus on the humanization of technology, specifically how individuals learn and progress.

The approach is based on 25 years of providing software application “coaching” to end-users and is continuously updated to include the most contemporary needs across desktop, mobile, cloud, and collaboration applications. Digital Adoption Services are centered on four key process actions:

  • Baselining the current state
  • Defining a competency target
  • Applying a solution set
  • Checking and supporting goal attainment

Whether you’re thinking about the risks and success of a major system roll-out or migration, or seeking to extract greater value from new or incumbent tools at an individual or group level, make a resolution to ensure the last mile is the best mile, via the value and impact of digital adoption assistance.

What’s your digital score? Check it here with the Vitalyst Digital Assessment (VDA) tool.

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