Co-Founder and VP of Advocacy & Innovation at AppLearn. Commited to analysing and improving the relationship between people and technology.
As Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I’ve always taken this Einstein quote to suggest that we should look beyond our current capabilities and innovate when it comes to problem-solving.
In my view, the same should be said for tackling challenges in the workplace — and increasing tech investment suggests organizations are in agreement. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of business applications being deployed has increased by 68% since 2015. We are now more digitally enabled than we have ever been, but not as enabled as we will be in the future.
Investment in technology in both our consumer and business lives is an upward trend that shows no sign of stopping. But to make the most of this, we need to bridge the gap between the software and those using it. We need to help people adopt technology with a degree of competence and mastery.
The challenge is that mastery is something that takes time, and many users of technology require support to conquer products and truly adopt them. So, as the upward trend in tech investment grows, how are businesses managing this challenge and adapting to support users at this new scale?
The provision of help and support is something that has existed for decades; however, the forms in which this is delivered have evolved. We have seen everything from “at the elbow” peer support through to traditional tiered support models and the evolution of AI-powered knowledge portals. However, the model has broadly remained the same, and onboarding and upskilling are still challenges.
I believe this is because there are two fundamental issues with each of these support strategies. For one, a user has to stop what they’re doing to seek a resolution. But more importantly, a user has to experience a problem before they receive help. These are problems that absolutely need solving.
Defining A Next-Generation Support Experience
Imagine a future where it is possible to track employee navigation and support trends across business applications. Imagine it is possible to know a user is going to have a problem before they have it or possible to intervene in-application in advance of the issue happening.
This is the future of technology support, and it’s here today.
With new support experience layer technology, businesses are able to see where their software issues and IT tickets are originating from and deal with them at the source. This is enabled not only by helping users with in-app guidance that prevents the need for context switching, but by letting businesses access end-to-end platform data that they previously couldn’t access.
For example, let’s say 1,000 people in a business regularly book holidays on an HR tool, and 10% go on to raise a support ticket. Rather than accept this is the case, a support experience layer makes it possible to identify the root cause of the issue, or issues, and offer help at the source.
If you replicate this for all your business applications and the processes within them, the potential is clear in terms of support cost reductions and employee satisfaction — which is inextricably linked to both individual and organizational performance.
Helping Your Employees And Your Business
The link between employee satisfaction and productivity is undeniable, and one of the biggest contributors for today’s knowledge workers is fulfilment from getting things done with a sense of autonomy. In part, this is achieved by maintaining a sense of flow, where an employee is enabled and executing tasks.
The challenge is that as more applications are deployed in businesses, many employees are having to use more software to facilitate their jobs. A recent study demonstrated that employees switch between these applications on average 1,100 times a day.
This level of context switching is already detrimental to productivity, before adding in reactive, external sources of support. This only increases the need to deliver intelligent support experiences in the flow of work, maintain focus and improve satisfaction as well as productivity.
For those looking at ways to automate support resolution and reduce their time to resolve cases, we must think about the challenge of delivering support differently in the workforce. We need to channel Einstein by embracing ideas that reach beyond current support models.
If we cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them, we cannot tackle the fundamental issues of support without innovation.
To begin to move in this direction and identify the processes that need this level of support, organizations need to appreciate that user adoption is inextricably linked to business value and return on investment. However, user adoption metrics almost never find their way into a new technology business case — in fact, they often assume 100% adoption of a new end state with the desired technology.
But if we only see 50% adoption, then we will only see half of the projected benefit. That is the reality of what happens after implementation, but by applying this thinking to projected value realization, and investing in adoption both internally and externally, it can be stopped.
That means not accepting logins and other high-level metrics as a success. Just because someone uses something doesn’t mean that it is useful, so the quality and efficiency of use should also be considered. The sooner that businesses appreciate this link, the sooner we will embrace next-generation support experiences.
By using technological advances to move from reactive support to proactive prevention, and by bringing external support into the applications themselves, we can close the gap between our apps and our users.
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