A new year…a new perspective in software education

I can’t believe it has been this long since my last post…time is flying by since ringing in the 2014.  But one thing is clear to me based on chats with customers at HP Discover in December; I said in my last blog that we may see IT budgets rising in 2014. Analysts are on the same page: a random sample sees Gartner predict growth of 3.1%. Forrester 6%, and IDC 5%. However, while purse strings are loosening we’re only just coming through tough times and the appetite for risk remains limited. With this in mind, here are my five ideas to help your education budget go further, deliver proven results and achieve more in 2014.

 

  1. In app support – help when it’s needed: When you’re working with software and get stuck, wouldn’t it be great to have a walk through animation help you over the problem? That’s the thinking behind in application support. The support can be manually selected by the user or may appear based on what they’re trying to do. Nowadays people are used to working with apps to quickly self-serve the information they need and providing help just when users most want it is hugely effective. The engaging content can include simulations with voice-guided tuition. In app learning is a more enjoyable, systematic and effective way of learning and it saves time, reduces calls to help desks and helps people build their own skills. I expect in app support to be big in 2014.
  2. Make downtime productive time: Mobile learning will continue to advance this year. Engaging on the go learning modules – accessed via smartphones, PCs and laptops – can turn any downtime (e.g. the commute) into learning time. If you build in simple and engaging tests to evaluate people’s progress – perhaps tied to incentives – and you can really build your team’s skills over time.
  3. Go small for big results: There will always be a place for classroom-based or online courses that require people’s dedicated attention. But providing access to micro-content can be really effective. For example, we work with customers who regularly review their help desk calls to prep bite-sized content – 10-minute webinars, short pod casts or brief simulations – that address common problems. The content is made available on learning portals that people can access when they’ve a few spare minutes. This flexible approach encourages people to learn and can achieve big improvements their skills.  
  4. Validate your people: Make this year the one where you help your people gain software certifications. Certifications demonstrate people’s value to the business and ensure you’ll always have a handle on your team’s capabilities.  
  5. Unleash your power users: Some people just seem to ‘get’ how to use software more quickly than others. So why not free some of their time to run lunch and learn sessions? Also, why not use your power users to customize training materials provided by your vendors to match the nuances of your software? Your training content will be much more effective, your power users will feel more valued and their skills will help your wider team improve its performance.

 

 

What plans do you have for 2014? Do you see the economic situation improving and investment in your IT resources increasing? I’d love to hear your views.

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