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How to fight platform fatigue with tools people will actually use

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors)

In this article Richard outlines some key principles to help readers identify and prioritise enterprise tech solutions staff will love and adopt. He shares experiences with Highspot’s own customers and frames the conversation directly within the conservative budgeting and urgency around ROI, which is being driven by unprecedented economic unpredictability.  

It turns out you really can have too much of a good thing.

Over the last decade, professionals across industries have been gifted with countless new technologies, tools and platforms designed to make life easier and improve results. Yet with this proliferation of products and solutions can come increased complexity and friction.

Some have called it ‘the dark side of innovation’, where companies can be damaged – or even destroyed – by inconsistent experiences felt by customers when interacting with different parts of a business. Or when employees can’t access key information, all thanks to this proliferation of products, tools and technology.

One painful consequence of this plethora of solutions is ‘platform fatigue’ – the resulting tiredness from staff being forced to toggle between applications, spend ages hunting for material, and then save it, attach it to an email, or upload it to yet another platform. Precious hours and energy are wasted, which is even more untenable when businesses are battling the economic pressures of Covid-19.

The situation gets worse when a company pushes technology onto teams without a strong rationale (and compelling story) about why they should adopt it – and what’s in it for them. Forcing teams to use tools they don’t like ends up being a frustrating, ineffective box-ticking exercise. Not only is it now more crucial than ever to demonstrate ROI for every pound invested, a remote workforce needs tools that easily fit within how they are already working - bringing familiarity and confidence to their daily lives.

That said, it’s not all on the company’s shoulders. Staff have a responsibility to look for the opportunities and advantages new tools can present. I’ve led sales teams for several tech companies during my career, and the top 10 per cent of sales reps are always those who think for themselves, take ownership, run their business proactively and report on which tools are working, which aren’t, and the impact they’re having.

How to identify a top-quality platform and vendor

When looking for a tool that is going to prove effective – businesses will do well to choose technology that augments, rather than attempts to override, staff’s own experience and expertise.

It’s also a good idea to ask potential vendors how they develop and update their tools. Does their product roadmap reflect customer feedback? Does the vendor use qualitative intel and quantitative analytics to spot roadblocks and under-used functionality before a customer even realises? An agile team with the processes and resources to proactively (and reactively) solve for customer needs is paramount.

As Oliver Sharp, Highspot’s co-founder and Chief Solution Architect, says: “The best way to create a world-class platform is to listen to your users very, very closely, and let this feedback deeply guide where your product priorities are.”

A vendor should be open, responsive, and committed to ongoing innovation. As our modern business landscape faces such incredible disruption, customers need platforms that keep pace.

What ‘easy to use’ looks like

As well as offering a sound case for staff adoption, providing an intuitive, seamless user experience is one of the most powerful ways to inspire adoption. This is where software integrations come into play.

A new solution must operate where staff already live – with tools that fit naturally into existing workflows. This saves time, energy and accelerates the learning process.

Other key elements to look for include a design ethos that is people-first, and system-second. Enterprise software is notorious for being complex – difficult to use and even more difficult to learn. Forward-thinking businesses take inspiration from consumer applications and develop tools that are intuitive and flexible, no matter the user’s software experience level.

Lastly, while these days it’s harder to find an enterprise technology provider that doesn’t flaunt an AI or machine learning component of its offering, it’s important to read between the lines. It’s not about what the AI tech is – it’s about what it does, and whether people will leverage it – which means focusing on the outputs. The technology-driven results must be useful and actionable for staff, as well as scalable across the organisation.

How to get the timing right

There are certain situations where it makes sense to implement a new platform, especially if it can be used across the whole company, or by multiple departments.

For now, we’re all working remotely and even when stay-at-home orders are lifted, we face an unknown new normal that will undoubtedly include more work from home. So, it’s never been more important to have a single source of truth where all content is organised, shared, governed, and measured.

Similarly, mergers and acquisitions can go more smoothly if shared tools are provided to help teams consistently learn together about newly combined products, services and messaging. All too often sales and marking teams have their targets increased to recoup M&A investment without a corresponding investment in upgrading the onboarding and training process.

In 2020, it’s not unreasonable to set very high expectations for any technology you’ve invested in. The tools that get picked are the ones that drives productivity and are easy to use. And now, more than ever, businesses need to prioritise those that provide continuity across communications, content and the customer experience.

Today, we have access to technology our predecessors couldn’t have even dreamed of – but we still can’t predict the future. What we can say, is that by investing wisely now, we’ll be better prepared to succeed – no matter what comes next.

Richard Langham, EMEA Managing Director, Highspot