Working together in today’s digital workplace means more than just good people skills – it means using the right technology the right way. The last phrase in the previous sentence is important. Success scaling employee collaboration and customer experience management is not just about having the right technology, and some training; it means using the right technology the right way.
Most companies that experience frustration with their sales, marketing, collaboration or customer care technology don’t realize the significant difference between supporting legacy technology and supporting technology that transforms business relationships. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider how to get the most out of your CRM, intranet and other technology solutions.
There’s More to it Than Meets the Eye
When companies purchase social engagement, CRM, team collaboration or other digital workplace solutions, it is almost always sold with the promise that “it is easy to set up, configure and use.” And while that promise is more true today than it has been in the past, it is far from being accurate. These are sophisticated systems, designed with the flexibility to handle many tasks, and setup to require at least some ongoing configuration to meet the changing needs of your team.
Just getting certified in a given solution can typically require weeks of training, study, and 4 or more exams. Keeping on top of the new versions that come out multiple times each year requires a similar time investment. That’s just to be a system administrator. If IT is expected to provide support on deeper customizations, there is also developer training. And if IT is expected to provide planning ideas on the best ways to expand the solution, they also need to be aware of the hundreds of add-on applications available. And how much of that training is lost when it is not put to use on a full-time basis right away?
But that level of training doesn’t begin to cover the full breadth and depth of the subtle nuances of these applications. The only way to acquire that skill is through experience. It can take years of focus on a single product to learn where the “bodies are buried” and best practices. IT reps rarely have this luxury – they have to support multiple different applications.
Except in the very largest organizations where IT employees can be highly focused, it is impossible for a few individuals to keep up with more than a small fraction of the knowledge required to successfully support this kind of technology.
Support is a Stepping Stone Job
Add to that: supporting applications that support the LUCK process (click here to learn about The LUCK Principle) is not regarded by most IT people as long-term career goal.
In many cases, by the time an individual becomes competent enough to make a serious contribution, they are looking for a promotion. In other cases, they leave the frustration of supporting too many applications to join an outside firm where they can go deeper with a narrower focus. In either case, your company has paid the price for their learning curve, and the employee is gone before you can recapture that investment.
There are some exceptions. The very largest organizations can afford to have internal groups that function like external specialist firms (in those cases, however, the talent can often become stale and uninspired, see Peter Drucker’s, “The Effective Executive,” for more insight on this). For the other 95% of businesses, the reality is that it will never make sense to have the talent they need under their roof.
It’s Not About Technical Support
The single biggest problem with business transforming technologies is not technology. It’s business transformation.
The biggest problem with supporting business transforming technologies? Change management. The behavior of leaders, managers and front-line employees has to change in order to make the solutions a competitive advantage. IT groups rarely have the personnel, time or credibility to lead the business in changing. And businesses often lack the vision to know where to try to go with these paradigm changing technologies.
What’s the Solution?
So what does a company do when faced with the situation outlined above? Where do the skills come from to both support the technology, and transform how a team collaborates with colleagues and customers?
Clearly, an organization needs to look outside of its walls for this kind of support. There are many firms that support the emerging world of digital workplace applications. But something more than a standard “support” agreement (aka “a larger help desk”) is needed. You need to partner with an organization that covers the full range of technical, advisory, support and partnering skills – and that has good chemistry with your team.
It can be difficult to find a partner that offers all the necessary services and expertise. In some cases, a number of different partners may be required. Finding a partner and agreeing on a support approach, however, is the easy part.
Success requires partnership (that’s why I repeatedly refer to the support relationship as a partnership). The classical “we’ll call you when we need you” approach won’t work. How will you embed you partner with your team so they can develop a deep connection to your processes, your culture, your people, and the way you work together? How will you ensure that they can proactively identify opportunities to improve productivity, employee satisfaction and customer experience and bring them to you? How will you give them access to your executives, your managers, your users, your IT department, so that they can provide the insights, advice and training necessary for success?
Action item: Is your project getting the care and feeding required for success? If you have a trusted partner, work with them on a strategy. If you need one, Contact C5 Insight.