While managing training is unarguably a huge challenge to ensure everyone performs in line with the company’s goals, it is the period after the training is over, where employees need support and training cannot really help at that point.
It cannot help because arranging for training cannot be done real-time and has a lot of logistical constraints, and it cannot help because that moment may arise again for the same or for a different employee. If you project this scenario to a company of even 1000 employees, you would immediately know that its totally improbable as a concept.
So what cannot be done by training, at that point, is possible by ‘performance support’. As it suggests, performance support is an activity/tool that supports an employee’s performance when it needs. And this ‘when’ is a fluid concept in today’s world and literally means 24x7x365 perpetually.
Before mobiles arrived to the rescue, innovative ways to solve this problem included an on-demand IVR system, possibly a synchronous or asynchronous network of people on Internet within or outside a corporate environment to help, and informal/formal peer-to-peer interactions.
The advent and now the current adoption of mobiles even by corporates, for work, might just be the thing we needed to solve this problem. And in that context, I believe that performance support and mobiles, to me, seem like a match made in heaven. Here are my 5 reasons for believing so:
1. Moment of need
Mobiles may have become just the first device/tool (maybe other than a watch and a pen) which almost everyone carries with her/him almost all the time (awake and at work). This itself solves half the problem by making something available whenever performance support is needed.
Just having a device with a potential use doesn't mean enough. The actual problem is to access information / people which / who can help at that moment of need. The limiting factor here is the connectivity on the devices. While all the information / help someone needs might be available on a central internet server, if the mobile device cannot connect to the internet itself, then it is worthless. Which brings me to the third reason.
3. Offline storage
Mobile devices are not just channels to access information but they are, in their own way, powerful computing devices [with that power increasing day by day]. This means that it is possible to store information offline even when the mobile device is not hooked on to internet. So, theoretically speaking, someone on a field service call at 3 AM in a remote area can still fix a customer’s problem by accessing a short video he has stored offline on a mobile device. Mind = blown (in a way). Isn’t that true performance support where the employee can solve a problem and not risk a lost customer (which means lost revenue and lost reputation)?
I will link back to an article we put on our blog late 2012 – The Return Of Video To eLearning and like to highlight the facts about the sharp increase in popularity & use of videos in eLearning/mobile learning for Performance Support. The power of videos with the benefit of them being available online or offline (preferred for scenarios where connectivity is a big concern) is an excellent way to leverage mobile devices for performance support.
5. Responsive Design
In a way, responsive design is kind of a savior. The other method of developing performance support tools for mobile devices is/was to develop native apps for the mobile platforms. And with 3 to 4 such platforms combined with the uncertainty BYOD brings to the table does make this approach both costly and time consuming. It is also a challenge to maintain and update in the long run. Responsive design saves the day by taking away the pain areas and still retaining the benefits. It also gives corporates a not very costly way to adapt existing tools/information material quickly for performance support through mobile devices without reinventing the entire wheel.
While the need for performance support has definitely not driven the advent of mobile technology, the other way round is a silver lining. The capabilities of mobile devices is definitely ensuring that providing performance support to employees when they need it and in real-time (response time) is easily possible and affordable.
Does seem to me like a perfect couple (of course in the context of workplace learning). Right?