A look at technology and training
Stephen Walker looks at the impact of technology on our training products and how the market has changed as a result.
We get terribly excited by the latest 'i' this, that or other, but what has really changed? Is that the only technology we should be keeping an eye on in our training businesses? In 100 years we have come from 'slate and scratch' to magical devices that pull text and videos out of thin air. Innovation for sure – giving us more choice, lower cost and speed. The choice and clever design allows a degree of interactivity so you can adapt your learning experience to your preferred style at this minute.
Do you wonder if our grand- or great-grandparents were that different from us? They certainly had different experiences and the widespread introduction of railways and the telephone must have been incredibly exciting. Technology can sometimes be an end in itself though, so let’s try and look beyond it.
Downloads are a very popular mechanism. Who can resist a free report on making the most of Twitter? Or a video to show you how to boost your employee engagement? I have a file titled 'to read' rather like the old fashioned 'pending' tray. One day I will read them.
Internet-enabled delivery has changed the landscape considerably. You can access your training when you want it: on demand, even have it streamed live to your workstation and interact with the trainer in different ways. So many opportunities, so many formats. How does the trainer choose the best? The trainer needs to choose the best for the client. Technology is not your product, it is the means of delivery.
Cost and quality
I have written before about white-label training re-packaged and brilliantly sold at a big profit. This has not done our sector any good at all. People now have a low expectation of online training that your brand needs to overcome. It is true that with so much content generated every day some of it will be poor. In my experience more is poor than excellent. A live webinar conducted by two experienced business coaches was a bad example. Advertised as an hour’s duration, they failed to start on time and introduced themselves saying they didn’t know how long it would take!
Do any of you run a training course without having an ideas of what you’re going to say, how long it will take? Participant feedback can mess up the estimate of course but that can be handled with a time budget and a 'see me after'. The business coaches erred and ummed all through the webinar and made jokes about the clumsy handovers. Yes, it was a free webinar, free of cost but it cost me one hour of my life. Then they tried to sell an advanced course for a significant sum of money. When you clicked on the link to the advanced course details it was not as described in the webinar.
They left me with an impression of incompetence - not a good outcome for anyone’s brand. If we are going to deliver online training we have to remember we are not talking to ourselves, not playing a video game, but creating something of merchantable quality on which we will be judged. That applies whether we are selling the product or giving it away. Client value is paramount.
Stephen Walker is co-founder of Motivation Matters, set up in 2004 to develop organisation behaviour to drive greater performance. He is a published author of articles and now a book “The Manager's Guide to Conducting Interviews”. He speaks at conferences and is a keynote speaker on organisational performance and the managerial behaviour needed for success. It is all about 'upgrading organisation performance by improving the manager-employee relationship', he says. You can follow Stephen on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Blog