The Digital Skills Gap Is Real

The digital skills gap is real.
A new survey finds most software users lack the training and knowledge needed to succeed at their jobs. Here are strategies to help change that.

Digital tools require a significant investment and commitment from an organization to deploy, but at the end of the day, if software users don’t fully know how to use those tools, it’s wasted effort. A new survey report from Whatfix found that 78% of software users lack the training and expert knowledge needed to use the applications required to succeed in their jobs, and 33% of respondents said they only received an hour (or less) of training and onboarding for new software. This is contributing to a widening digital skills gap, SaaS overload and fractured software experiences that harm employee productivity.

Poor software adoption not only decreases an organization’s ROI on the platform, but also has a ripple effect across every business unit, negatively impacting company goals, outcomes and productivity. However, software is becoming increasingly integral to employee (and therefore organizational) success, so when the software user experience has not caught up and lacks the context and nuance for outcome-based and role-based use cases, it becomes detrimental to the end goal of improving organizations’ performance.

Inclusive Software Experiences

Currently, 51% of surveyed software users note that their companies don’t offer role-based software onboarding, training or user support. This has a negative impact on the user experience and reduces the desired outcome of the software’s deployment. To combat this, organizations should consider adopting a userization-centered approach. Userization addresses building more inclusive, consistent and contextual software experiences for users, prioritizing the user over the software. With user-centric software providing a more inclusive experience, employees can be both more effective and productive, as their tools are more tailored to the way they learn and operate. 

Integrated Application Experiences

The fact that each application has its own user interface and learning curve to contend with exacerbates the existing SaaS bloat problem and highlights the current issue with B2B software: no tools are fully integrated with another. Digital adoption platforms are one way that organizations can help create integrated, consistent application experiences across platforms, better supporting adoption strategies for their teams.

Smart User Segmentation

Using smart user segmentation can help organizations create contextual adoption experiences, tailoring training to specific groups of users and their needs. This allows further investment in userization efforts. Combining inclusive experiences, integrated application experiences and segmentation data can unlock an individual’s full potential across their entire software stack.

Outcome-based Adoption Strategies

As technology becomes more powerful, software and B2B applications are following suit. Up until now, most software suites have developed industry-specific solutions. However, a trend to watch in 2023 is applications rejecting verticalization and instead developing feature sets that can be leveraged by users regardless of industry or size to solve their challenges. This will lead to digital adoption strategies accommodating a variety of outcome-based, needs-based and role-based use cases.

Asynchronous Learning and Real-Time User Support

The report found that 76% of respondents found it difficult to access and find software training and help content. In the current era of remote and hybrid work, more employees than ever are accessing learning materials asynchronously and on their own as needed. Because the workforce is more distributed, the traditional in-person training model is no longer effective, so organizations must adapt to offer training and help materials that can be accessed on-demand.

Reimagined End User Support for Self-Reliant Software Users

Software users are also looking to resolve their questions themselves: 70% of survey respondents expect companies to offer self-service support online. Further, 40% would prefer to use a support channel that does not require interaction with another person. By providing on-demand, self-service training and support resources, organizations can further cater to software users’ individual needs, fostering an environment of userization.

Data-Driven Adoption Strategies Powered by End-User Analytics

Data will reign supreme in 2023, and organizations need to be tapping into their data to understand how users are engaging with software tools. Digital adoption tools can provide analysis for this data and recommend adoption strategies to best serve users’ needs. Establishing data-driven adoption strategies will help organizations better support their employees moving forward.

Keeping these insights in mind, organizations should examine how they can best support their employees and improve their knowledge about the tools they use on a daily basis going into 2023. Adopting a data-driven culture of userization is an excellent place to start, so that employees can make better use of the existing tools, and leadership teams can better identify what improvements still need to be made.

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