Digitization of “Human Infrastructure”…or…Enterprise Systems/Apps: Which Should Take Priority?

There are plenty of positive discussions in the networking groups I follow regarding the shift to the cloud for digital integration across Enterprise Systems, Business Apps, and APIs. This is all good news, but I must ask this question – “What about the digitization supporting the “human infrastructure” tasked to perform effectively using this digitized business infrastructure at the Point-of-work?” Is the answer a chicken or egg debate? Methinks there is a priority we are missing here if our IT focus is exclusively “System/App/API-oriented”.

I read an interesting article in Forbes this morning “In Digital Transformation, ‘No Pain, No Gain’ Applieswritten by Joe McKendrick that raised a big flag of opportunity that highlights the “human infrastructure”, or if you prefer, the workforce…the end-user population, who are, or soon will be caught up in this mission-critical digitization tsunami.

I’ve plucked and summarized highlights from the survey of 650 IT executives in the graphic below. There’s good news for a lot of good operational reasons given, as well as some challenges you can see in the graphic; in fact, the red box shows just how much of a priority the digitization initiative represents. The shift to the cloud is not going away, and 81% of IT executives suggest unwelcome news for revenue results if they cannot deliver. The two green boxes highlight the challenges facing IT teams in their efforts to deliver.  That represents a dilemma.

In my past, I’ve led teams who managed to survive many enterprise deployments, but always on the L&D end of the effort, and as a partner in crime with IT, but I don’t want focus on past premises-hosted systems here. L&D is still a responsible collaborator when moving to the cloud, as you read in the graphic, an extraordinary endeavor. As velocity of migrations increase, so too does the burden on L&D to keep pace. Just considering the number of Apps active in today’s organizations (1,020 on the average), IT is well over-burdened and have priorities that are not…cannot actually…be as focused on end-user proficiency or driving to full adoption. Those outcomes still fall to L&D, and the associated velocity tracks in the same direction…higher and higher.

L&D is no less swamped with projects as it is and are fighting just to stay even. The volume of deployments and continuous nature of changes during system implementations alone blow the doors off L&D capacity. The current state training strategy and tactical paradigm has been effectively out flanked…or will be very soon…and the rules of engagement to optimize workforce capability have shifted from the training-only world to the dynamics of Point-of-Work (PoW). Work has effectively converged with learning, and that convergence represents a new paradigm…a Learning Performance Paradigm.

New Rules of Engagement = Evolved Strategy = Evolved Tactics = New Cloud-Based Solutions

My perspective was sparked this morning as I read this article. We cannot change or simplify what IT must do to be successful with this integration effort, but what about the timing and effectiveness of our end-user population…not just on the new systems and apps…but on those systems that are already in the queue for shifting to the cloud? Do we wait for them to shift to the cloud?

My thinking says no; absolutely not!

We must consider several key things:

·        What changes will the workforce experience as systems become integrated?

·        How do workflows and processes change? Does the look and feel change?

·        How does L&D keep up with changes and updates to new and existing learning assets?

·        How do we train to cloud-based apps integrated into performance requirements at Point-of-Work?

·        How do we maintain pace with the impending cloud migration velocity?

·        How do we build in portability into learning and performance assets?

·        How do we service a Learning Continuum from Point-of-Entry (PoE) (Onboarding & 1st Learning) to the down-stream, post-training Point-of-Work (PoW) (Competent Performance)?

Given the shift to a Learning Performance Paradigm, I am convinced that L&D also has a shift opportunity to the cloud to bridge the gap between new cloud-based business systems and applications as well as those still hosted in-house. The solution calls for the adoption of Digital Performance Support (DPS) which is now offered as a cloud-based solution as Software as a Service (SaaS).

DPS supports the convergence of learning with actual work…contextually…inside the workflow…across disparate, unconnected systems.

  • Why wait for a legacy system to move to the cloud? Any work completed in advance to support PoW convergence with existing in-house hosted systems is not wasted. Content portability through a powerful content management capability eliminates the risk of investing development resources on something that’s about to change when it shifts to the cloud and integrates with other systems.
  • What happens when those systems become connected? Rapid content changes through robust “MS Word-based” authoring enables rapid workflow and transactional edits adjusted in minutes versus re-recording Captivate simulations. Distributed authorship enables collaboration with multiple authors in L&D and outside. Imagine the time savings gained by IT validating workflow scripts and then sharing the results directly with L&D…eliminating the need for L&D to record anything at all for simulations and step-by-step contextual instructions.
  • How do we scale to add other systems considering IT is already swamped? The new DPS software is fine-tuned to be system agnostic. This eliminates the need to buy additional DPS instances to accommodate scale. Plus, there is no in-house IT support required for servers and other hardware since everything resides in the cloud.

So…is DPS a fit for your cloud-shifting world? My stock answer is simple: “It depends!”

Hey, what did expect the answer to be from a performance consultant?

Truly, it does depend on the architecture, depth and breadth of the Learning Performance Ecosystem you are tasked to support. A Learning Performance Assessment (LPA) is a suitable place to begin to assess what happens in your current state to service your workforce from PoE to PoW.

  • What does the migration road map look like for your cloud integration?
  • What’s migrating? What’s not? What’s in the pipeline? When is GoLive for each?
  • Where in the organization should operational performance priorities be established that require the workforce to interface at PoW with Systems, Apps and APIs?
  • Does L&D have the human infrastructure skills to identify and support the human infrastructure performance requirements of the workforce at PoW?
  • Where do learning and performance assets come from? Who authors? Who maintains/updates?

There are more questions than answers I could add into this post, but these few should validate “It depends” for now. An LPA will prevent you from confusing being “ready” to make a strategy/tactical shift…to ensuring you are in a “state of readiness” to pursue the shift and then sustain the destination as best practice adoption.

As always, thanks for reading, and know I welcome deeper dive conversation on this topic as well your thoughts and comments.

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning