On Monday I had the unfortunate task of sending my mobile phone off to be repaired. Happily, while I wait for it come back with a new screen (whoops) I have been lent another phone of the same make and model. I took the SIM card out, slipped it into the borrowed handset and voila! My profile was there with all my contacts and apps. Easy.
And d’you know what? I expected it to be easy too. My expectations around the technology I use every day have risen to a seriously high level. I expect hardware to just work out of the box. I expect software to be intuitive. Even if it is something I use for work. And it is this ‘consumerisation of technology’ that is having one of the biggest impacts on corporate systems today, including those used in learning and HR. More and more our experience as consumers in our personal lives influences what we expect in a corporate setting. Arguably, iPhones changed the game initially and now everything from Netflix (seamless content consumption between devices) to Google Hangouts (who needs webinar software?) is eroding the status quo of organisational IT.
Research from City & Guilds Kineo and e.learning age suggests staff now:
• Expect to find information online easily as and when they need it
• Expect to work seamlessly across devices
• Have a low tolerance for technology that is difficult to use or doesn’t work
• Have online social networks where they seek support for both personal and professional challenges
• Expect a more personalised experience
In short, it is no longer good enough to have corporate software that is dull and clunky. People will avoid using it at all costs. And this has put real pressure on software providers across the board to develop new front ends, reduce the number of clicks required and focus on the end-user rather than system administrators. Huge budgets are being spent on user experience design and development to ensure the next generation of HR systems of intuitive, mobile and customisable. But is it working?
Only skin deep?
Initially it seemed that it was like putting lipstick on a pig in some cases. Excuse the analogy but when some systems emerged with pretty new home pages hiding the same old lengthy processes underneath, there was little cause for celebration. However, this seems to be starting to change. More software providers in the HR and learning space are embracing fundamental shifts in how their systems need to work to suit today’s employees. It isn’t just about adding on new bits of functionality. It’s about fundamentally re-examining how people get their jobs done. Social, for instance, isn’t about sticking in a chatroom or message boards and hoping people use them. It is about collaborative working, building networks and helping staff derive genuine interaction and value from their colleagues. And it is now starting to become a properly integrated part of the next generation of HR systems. Properly optimised mobile sites are also finally emerging and gamification is even starting to play a role in a business context according to Gartner. Indeed, Open Badges are already being used in learning and development by some organisations. Plus the content employees can access through their corporate systems today reflects the changing nature of how we consume information across different media today. Video, podcasts and apps are starting to stack up alongside traditional elearning and PDF reference guides.
There are also new kids on the block emerging with different takes on solving challenges in learning and HR. This has put pressure on the incumbents to raise their game and take employee engagement very seriously indeed.
So with my expectations justly raised, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the new user-led solutions in action at HR Tech Europe this month and discover just what the next generation of systems has in store for us. I shall report back with my findings and would love to know your thoughts and experiences on this.