We live in an amazing era of technology-driven transformation that’s redefining how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate—all in an amazingly short period of time. With that said, though, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the future is a human future. And when it comes to humans, it’s all about relationships and trust. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a good relationship.
But trust isn’t something you give and receive freely. Trust is earned through key values, such as honesty, integrity, and delivering on promises. These types of values are true in every country and every culture all over the world.
Today we’re more connected to others than ever before thanks to the mobile Internet being on our phones. In fact, right now 2.5 billion people are connected to the Internet. At any one time, 30% of the world population is going online. And over 70% of the phones sold last year were smart phones, meaning that people have television, radio, and Internet access in the palm of their hand.
Despite all this technology, the human factor is more important for business success than ever before. For example, I know companies that have had breakthrough technology over the years and were using the latest equipment, yet they failed because they neglected the human factor of doing business. I’ve also seen companies using older technology, what we might call “legacy technology,” and they beat out their competitors because of their focus on the human factor.
So the question is, “Can you leverage today’s technology to increase the human factor?” The answer is yes! And if you’re in human resources or in charge of training employees, you are now in a position to not only transform your career, but also transform your organization because of the positive impact technology can have on the human factor.
Earlier I mentioned that we’re transforming how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate over a short period of time. All those processes involve people. Without people, none of those things happen.
Let’s look at education and training specifically, which are things that cost money but are essential for companies to do, especially in a time of rapid change and transformation. I recently had an executive ask, “What if I spend a lot of money educating and training my people and they leave?” My response was, “What if you don’t, and they stay?”
The point is that you want your people to feel that they’re working for a company that’s vibrant and thriving. A strong human factor helps you create that mindset. You also want employees to feel that when they go to work, they’re going into a time machine to the future. Technology helps you create that. And when the two work in conjunction—when you use technology to increase the human factor—that’s when you have an engaged workforce that excels.
Following are some technologies to leverage that will enable HR and training departments to build the human factor in their organization.
Over the next two years we will be transforming how we educate and train people using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. All trainers know that the best way to learn something is by doing it. That’s what just-in-time training enables people to do. Rather than sit in a classroom and learn, people learn in real-time. Since most employees have a multimedia computer with them at all times (their phone or tablet), if they have a question or need assistance, they can simply touch an icon on their device’s screen and be connected to a live trainer who can help. If the trainer needs to see something to give assistance, the employee can aim the device’s built-in camera to the problem so the trainer can see it. When used in conjunction with classroom-based training, this approach would cut training costs tremendously.
With today’s technology we can deliver advanced simulations on not only mobile devices, but also on today’s gaming systems. For example, an Xbox 360 is a perfect tool to deliver three-dimensional photo-realistic advanced simulations to train workers—all while making it fun and game-like. I’ve identified five core elements of gameification that, when applied together, can dramatically accelerate learning. They are to make the training self-diagnostic (so it can know each person’s skill level and progress accordingly), interactive (where people actually do something as opposed to sitting and watching), immersive (using interspatial 3D where you go into scenarios versus having things pop out at you), competitive (the adrenaline rush keeps people engaged), and focused (which is a byproduct of the other four elements).
In the past, executives would decide what people needed to learn and then find someone to teach it to them. Today, learning is going social. By leveraging social learning, companies are empowering their employees to share their best practices and best ideas with each other, using tools like their own computer video system. And thanks to YouTube, companies don’t need high production and high expense on educational videos. With social learning we can get our own employees to be both teachers and students, sharing with each other because social is all about sharing.
Visual communications is very different from video conferencing. Video conferencing requires expensive equipment and is usually something only seen in mid- and large-sized organizations. And those systems are always booked by the executives. Visual communications is using free tools like Skype. The only equipment you need is a laptop, tablet, or smart phone to hear and see the person or people you’re talking to. When you can see the person you’re talking to, you can adjust your communications to them in real time based on their facial expressions and body language. Plus, if the kids are using visual communications when they play their Xbox games, shouldn’t we be doing it with our employees when we want to communicate at higher levels?
Training used to be all about customization. Today, it’s about personalization. For example, if you and I both have iPhones and we both choose AT&T as our phone service provider, I know for a fact that my iPhone is completely different than yours. Why? Because we’ve both personalized our phones with specific apps that are most useful for us. So in essence, we’ve each created a “my phone.” Similarly, we’re now starting to see not just customized education, but personalized education for the user, based on both achievement and menu of options that are determined by the user’s needs.
Make the Human Factor Your New Priority
All these factors are transforming training and education, and they are raising the bar on the human factor in organizations. Remember, in times of rapid technological transformation, it’s the human factor that will win the race, not the technical factor. So you can either be passively transformed, letting all of these technologies sweep down upon you and change your world, or you can actively be the transformer and use these tools to add value to your organization and increase the human factor. Which option will you choose?