Usually with a modern data stack, a company will strive to have maximum user engagement, results-centered flows and content that brings value to its corporation. Now more than ever, software technologies can supply dozens, or even hundreds, of their own built-in, powerful tools. As a result, many organizations will likely need to have some individuals or even a dedicated group to focus on end-to-end enablement, helping end users learn to use the new technology. Ideally, this learning process would start during acquisition, run through launch and be revisited regularly after going live.
What is Enablement?
Typically, that enablement effort would encompass multiple levels of support, education, training, resources and goal-oriented growth paths for all of your end users.
Let’s hit pause on that.
I want you to imagine driving down the road pushing 40 mph (or 65 kph). You can see the highway running parallel, others going by you at twice your current pace, so you need to find a passage way that can lead you onto that accelerated path. And here’s where I like to think of “Enablement” as a specialized merge lane that will take you and your newest BI-tech from the sourcing and initial adoption phase to a successful platform deployment that gets monitored and better over time.
With an intentional, ongoing targeted effort toward enablement, your end users can become successful power users of this new tool, reaping valuable benefits from your software sooner rather than later.
Still, let’s ask a real quick, simple question: why would I need an enablement consultant?
Oftentimes, we spend quite a lot of hours in the pre-purchase phase making sure a specific product or technology will give us exactly what we need. There are questionnaires, surveys, demonstrations, presentations and plenty of discussions happening throughout. You would likely refer to this as the sales process, which becomes a critical piece of acquiring new technology at the Enterprise scale. There can be lots of moving parts during this phase, so most of the end users are just beginning to hear about this new technology being sourced.
Because we think this new program will potentially fill a broader need or offer value to our company, we will take great care to ensure our requirements are met, and that’s where we start to realize we’re eventually going to have to get this new product to market. As leadership works out the pricing and legal does it’s red-lining, we near towards having a signed agreement in place. More importantly during this period, especially if we haven’t already done so, we would want to give our future end users a chance to see what’s coming on the horizon with the shiny, new prospective software.
Additionally, if there are folks that will use this tool across more than one segment of our business or organization, then a corporate-wide memo might get distributed. In that messaging, we can supply end users with broad details on the need for the program, plus usually offer an opportunity to learn more about the features the technology will include. We might even have a sandbox or demo area for the end user to get some points and clicks under their belt. The energy and excitement really begin to build as we near an official adoption.
You’re almost there.
In a perfect world, the deployment phase would be as easy as, “1, 2, 3.” Stakeholders would love a “set it and forget it” mode after the contract gets executed. Everything in the new tool would be 100% intuitive and no additional learning or support would be necessary at all. But in reality, that’s rarely the case. It’s almost the exact opposite most of the time.
A company may elect to have their own resident experts queued up, who would be responsible for helping to bridge the knowledge gap with all that the new tool offers its users. To that end, they’ll need to have educational paths carved out, so end users know how most of the basics work at a minimum. This enablement effort could stay internally-driven, but honestly your technology experts may not have the time available to teach your end users. They may work in different regions, departments and other logistic factors can run the risk of being blockers.
And teaching isn’t necessarily a skill that everyone would list on their resume as a strength either, so companies oftentimes will look to fill the enablement role through alternative avenues. They whole-heartedly seek to make the transition for their users as seamless as possible. With these challenges in mind, they start to look for enablement resources and tool-specific experts that may be able to step in.
Some technology providers have direct enablement consultants on-hand to help their clients. But as is the case with Tableau or ThoughtSpot, they might defer enablement requests to a recommended outside IT agency or a trusted strategic partner (such as InterWorks) to help with the heavy lifting here. The goal might start with filling in for the enablement duties, but with a proven track record of successful deployments across different industry verticals and company sizes, this could quickly scale and evolve into something much bigger.
Read about how InterWorks has earned the trust of some of the biggest companies in the world: Our Approach – InterWorks.
As enablement consultants begin to work directly with a client’s end users, they will begin to understand how the program is going to be best suited for individual users’ day-to-day. They help them understand why the change is happening and how the tool can best be utilized.
At InterWorks, we know that every business/organization is different, plus each and every end user is different. We’ve worked through the challenges and seen the results of failed, one-size-fits-all approaches to learning. Thus, an ideal enablement effort needs to be agile, personalized and goal-specific.
Offering general support through documentation and videos helps a technology provider support its customers, but as an experienced consultant, I’ve learned that great educational experiences can oftentimes be the bow that ties your latest tool and your team together in order to achieve technical autonomy.
What Are Some Best Practices for Enablement?
A typical workshop for me will be one that has interactive training sessions built in (virtual or on-site) with hyper-focused hands-on activities and exercises that stretch an end user’s thinking through practical and challenging curriculum. It’s argued that learning happens best with a multi-sensory approach. As humans, we are at the peak of our learning potential when we are hearing, seeing and doing. In this way, and through repetition, practice equals progress.
And actually, hands-on learning is commonplace to many IT systems, especially in the BI world. With BI, there are always going to be common terms, definitions, formulas, charts, data schema, models and goals, but one technology provider’s toolkit can feel alien to one user and natural to another. As enablement consultants, we have to put ourselves in the end user’s shoes, try and look through the lenses they’re wearing or the hats they have on, and come up with a training that can meet each user right where they are.
Enablement for the Win!
Having someone that is equipped, certified and readily available to train business users on a newly acquired platform such as Tableau or ThoughtSpot is exactly how enablement at InterWorks came to be in the BI space. We know what those head nods mean. We can see the progress. The right questions are being asked. The dots are getting connnected. With InterWorks, we have trainers deployed across the globe, willing and able to help companies with getting their new IT products to market through our collective specialized backgrounds, experiences and knowledge.
Oftentimes over our 25+ years of doing business, we’ve been brought in for a specific technical training, but through that initial work, we’ll be asked to do more and more, ultimately becoming an extension of that client over time. We know that organizational change, especially as it pertains to any IT or new BI tool, doesn’t just happen overnight. Through our training journeys, we promote discovery, excitement and help to build a solid conceptual foundation. We want your end users to be confident and equipped.
It’s a Wrap-up.
Personally, I have the incredible benefit of teaching Tableau. My setting can vary greatly based on whether I’m standing at the front of the classroom or connecting through a virtual Zoom session. I could be at a university as a guest lecturer, at a corporate headquarters on-site, or even at a local government office or not-for-profit agency, but the end goal for me is the same every time. I want to be a part of successful learning outcomes.
Now Training in:
Beyond technical training, InterWorks provides services to help build a broader strategic vision by reviewing your current BI tools, tech stack, data warehouses, UI/UX, authentication flows and overall data governance and stack. We can help to ensure standards are being met toward maximum efficiency. We can clarify challenges, identify priorities and even show new possibilities you may not have thought of yet.
For more information on our collective services and a full list of our technical partners, go here: Strategy – InterWorks.
Simply put, let us know how we can help. Our team can help you build a successful deployment plan for your organization. We can establish short-term and long-term goals to promote continuous collaboration and education. We can give direct support and expertise to assist in any phase along the way. And we’ll meet your users right where they are.
Modern analytics doesn’t have to feel like work. It could be as easy as moving from the side road onto the highway with that brand new merge lane that will take you there.