This presents some great benefits, but also a new, significant challenge for user adoption.Cloud-based software is typically updated with the latest and greatest technology.This means that the users must continuous learn these new technologies and competencies to maximize value from the software.This also requires more of an investment in user adoption to make the software sticky for the users and for organizations to realize its value.At the same time, education and learning approaches are not keeping up and organizations are not adapting their learning to fit today’s ever-changing work environment.To keep pace, organizations need to think about user adoption and getting users properly enabled completely differently than before.
Flipping formal and informal learning
The gap we are starting to see is that the proliferation of technology innovation and competencies within a product is growing faster than the ability for users to consume all of it. Users have less time than ever for formalized learning, yet they are still expected to perform at high levels of competency, in addition to continuously adapting to ever-changing technology and requirements.The cost of only using formal training is too high and too slow, and individuals are forced to take the formal training when it is offered as opposed to when they need it.
By flipping the percentage of formal and informal learning within an organization, organizations can continue to be agile and meet the changing demands and evolution of technology. Users become empowered to define when they learn, where they learn, and how they want to learn.Formal pathways morph to pathways defined by the learners themselves who have the ability to know what learning content and approaches will be most productive for them.
What is Informal Learning
Informal learning can be defined as learning from daily experiences at work, which include conversations, exploring, and immersive experiences which take place anywhere at any time. Rather than sitting in a classroom with a teacher presenting to many students, informal learning happens outside the classroom, typically right at the moment of need.It includes having a robust knowledge management strategy and model, mentoring and coaching, and other forms of self-directed learning including e-learning and using performance support tools.
There are multiple models which attempt to explain how people learn at work, but one common theme is that they all promote that a majority of the learning is informal. Jay Cross’s states in his model that 80% of workplace learning is informal. Dan Pontefracts’ 3:33 model states that 66% of workplace learning is not formal (either informal or social). Charles Jennings’ 70/20/20 model states that 70% of workplace learning is informal.
How does this help with User Adoption?
This is all well and good, but how does this help with user adoption of software technology?
For users to be successfully adopted, the adoption strategies need to not just address individual’s cognitive needs, but their emotional and contextual needs also.
One of the largest barriers to successful adoption is fear. Fear from the individuals that they will not be able to learn the new tool. Fear that the new tool will negatively impact their job performance and satisfaction because they are not able to properly use it. By providing informal learning in multiple modalities, and allowing the learner to choose their learning path, focusing on what they need to know to do their job, users can learn competencies over time as they are needed, helping get over the emotional aspects of adoption.
Another barrier to successful adoption is context. Having an individual sit in a 3-day formal training to learn 100% of the software’s features when they only need to learn 20% of them at that point in time is not giving them the proper context. Learning how to use the tool in a way that is different than how they will use it in their job is missing key context as well.While content used to be the king of formal learning, context is the king of informal learning. Making the learning relevant to their job provides that context.