About two years ago I contacted Gartner regarding a Magic Quadrant for Performance Support; they had none…and no immediate plans stating they were not in “that space”. I suggested at the time that if they were serious about being in the learning space, they should include performance support. I doubt if my suggestion was the catalyst, but they just released a document for Digital Adoption Solutions – DAS platforms in the context of Sales Effectiveness and provided a list of vendors. Sort of…
My intent here is not to discount the vendor offerings on the list; rather, my concerns are based on who was NOT included that should have been. The 11 on the list included several that are new players and a couple who have been around the block, like WalkMe. The players that should’ve been included…despite the context being sales effectiveness in the Gartner report…include:
- Ancile – uPerform
- AskDelphi – Learning Experience & Performance Support
- Assima – Assima Train & Assima Assist
- Epilogue Systems – Opus
- OnScreen – SAP Guidance
- Panviva – Support Point & Knowledge Cloud
- tt-s – Performance Suite (tt Knowledge Force & tt Guide)
While I’m delighted to see the DAS category added to Gartner’s review scope, I only hope the other players are added before the first Magic Quadrant comes to pass. And that will be a challenge because of what each vendor does best. So…the next question is which is “best-in-class?”, and I feel safe saying each one is best-in-class at something. While the vendors have some common deliverables, each vendor has a unique sweet spot. None of them can do everything. That fact alone implies vendor selection criteria must be based upon your own business learning performance requirements to ensure alignment of best-in-class vendor capabilities with your own in-house requirements. When those requirements are known, they become a framework for Use Case definition for vendor selection as opposed to RFI/RFQ.
It would be a mistake to consider a single application like contextual delivery of job aids or application navigation as the only reasons to consider DAS technology. Those applications are but two sweet spots possessed by several of the vendors. Rarely are those applications stand-alone solutions because of what happens before, during and after moment of need delivery at Point-of-Work.
Obviously, you must have something to deliver…so Content must be:
- Authored collaboratively/captured/annotated/narrated
- Easily editable/updated/project flow managed/version controlled/ single-source documentation capable
- Accessible and contextual within workflows inside any browser-based applications, not just enterprise systems
- Reusable/embedded in learning/URL addressable
- Trackable/utilization monitored/correlated with other system performance
- Scalable without loss of life trying to herd content cats (tongue-in-cheek, but a really big deal)
And then there are Analytics considerations and API compatibility with other systems. Why? Because a DAS solution will likely not be a stand-alone “box” or “cloud” unto itself. Is Digital Transformation underway? If so, there is no better fit than DAS given it is non-invasive nature to whatever has already been transitioned to the cloud… enabling a “start small and scale” approach to active implementations.
Is the DAS platform system-agnostic? Is it cloud-based? Does it require invasive code insertion into enterprise applications? Does it offer software as a service (SaaS) pricing? What’s the learning curve on creating content? Is the DAS solution scalable once it goes viral…and it will. Does the L&D organization have the chops to assess the environment where a DAS solution has a perfect fit? Is Intentional Design using 7-Right Things part of the L&D design/production repertoire?
I know I’m tossing a lot of questions out here without answers, but such is the diversity of each ecosystem where DAS plays a role…a lot of questions that must be answered and each dependent upon that specific ecosystem. Standard consultant’s answer: “It depends!” and it does. The danger as I see it is the same danger we’ve already endured when somebody decided “We need to buy an LMS!” How’d that work out for ya?
My point is simply this:
“Ready” to pursue DAS adoption DOES NOT equal “Readiness” to pursue DAS adoption!
Why do I say this? Reread the sampling of questions postured earlier. Adopting DAS technology represents the final act of commitment adopting a Point-of-Work Solution Discipline. Yes, that “discipline” is my language (or jargon, if you like) but whatever language you choose to apply, it’s like making a purchase decision based on the 10% of the iceberg you can see. What’s below the waterline or behind the curtain is where the guts of Transformation Change must absolutely take place. Yes, technology is involved but “readiness” to optimize it requires a level of up-skilled discipline within L&D to leverage the DAS capability. It requires an accurate assessment of your in-house requirements at both GoLive and the future.
Probably most important is gaining commitment and sponsorship within senior leadership. Why? That’s where transformation change gets blessed and sponsored. DAS adoption cannot be treated like a stand-alone technology purchase. The dynamics of the Learning Performance Ecosystem…the diversity of business applications to be supported…the skills and tactical disciplines within L&D…all must line up to ensure optimization is reached and then sustained when things begin to scale.
Wow, that almost felt like a rant.
The fact that Gartner has begun to recognize this very relevant space has me stoked. It’s been a long time coming. My hope is the DAS focus does not become too narrow and application navigation becomes the only visible point-solution when so much more productivity enhancing capabilities are possible. My other hope is for prospective adopters to avoid jumping too quickly into a platform and not having the human infrastructure in place to assess the Point-of-Work and design assets intentionally for Point-of-Work Solutions using DAS technology. We really cannot afford another rush-to-LMS ownership. It’s time for a senior-level leadership commitment where empowerment to change gets the momentum to build critical mass for digital adoption across the ecosystem.
Thanks for reading, and as always, if comments or ideas, please share. If you’d like to investigate how the PWA Methodology can determine DAS requirements just ping me. Want to take the methodology in-house, try a PWA Workshop. If questions surface, just ping me.
Take good care!