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Mobile performance support

Of all the new technologies introduced down through the years, only mobile devices have had such a major impact over such a short period of time. Practically everybody now owns and uses one daily. This shift in media consumption has the potential to be of huge benefit when it comes to the in-house transfer of corporate knowledge.

Mobile technology

Mobile technology has become an indispensable feature of everyday life. This is not only due to the astonishing speed with which mobile devices have evolved, but also factors such as huge advances in the field of wireless transmission technology, cloud services and low-cost broadband access. The combination of these factors lies behind the speed with which smartphones and tablets have almost completely taken over from PCs for private use.

Whether a quick Google search, a peep at Wikipedia or a short Youtube video, it has become the most natural thing in the world for people to satisfy their need for information by briefly interacting with their mobile device – anytime and anywhere.

Mobile technology at the workplace

The all-conquering advance of mobile devices for private purposes is both undeniable and unparalleled. But can the same be said for the business world? In the past, companies were at the forefront when it came to the introduction of innovative technology. But that was once upon a time! Nowadays, the emergence of attractive mobile devices has kicked off a new era of 'democratization' – mobile technology is now primarily consumer driven, and opens up a whole new world of business opportunities and solutions.

One can therefore be forgiven for thinking that the business world has been overly hesitant in accepting the use of mobile technology at the workplace. A growing number of employees worldwide downright expect that role-specific information is just as quickly and easily accessible at the workplace as they are accustomed to in their private life.

Mobile technology and performance support

With regard to the transfer of corporate knowledge, the whole idea of providing mobile access to a company's pool of information not only makes obvious sense but may actually be crucial to a company's long-term success.

The buzzword 'performance support' – involving concepts such as the '5 Moments of Need' or '70:20:10' – is based on the idea of providing employees with direct access to crucial information precisely at the moment when they actually need it. Mobile devices are literally predestined for this – always close at hand, powerful despite their size and permanently connected to the internet. And what's more, they are almost always switched on and ready for action, without having to wait half an eternity. It all sounds pretty convincing – a brief interaction with their device and the employee finds all the information they need to perform the task at hand in an efficient and error-free manner. A win-win situation: Business processes run smoother than ever and errors are kept to a minimum, allowing the company to flourish well into the future.

Learning on-demand as opposed to the stockpiling of knowledge

But this vision has yet to become reality. These days, mobile devices are primarily used for checking e-mails or making calls. And in the few cases where mobile devices do play a role in corporate knowledge transfer projects, this is usually in a way that fails to exploit their full potential. Such projects are usually conventional e-learning projects with the tiny difference being that they deploy technology such as HTML5 for ensuring compatibility with various devices, but which are nevertheless a mere 1:1 copy of PC-based learning. A perfectly understandable approach, one may think, in this era where cost is king and time is of the essence. But the wisdom – and benefit – of this thinking is highly questionable.

The mobile distribution of knowledge actually involves much more than the mere viewing of e-learning content, which was originally devised for a PC, on a smartphone or tablet. Users have specific questions to which they require an answer – pronto! At the moment of need, the last thing they want is to have to navigate their way through a seemingly never-ending e-learning lesson just to find that one elusive nugget of information.

They prefer relevant and brief knowledge snippets – by all means with the same technical framework as an 'e-lear­ning', but which can be 'consumed' in a matter of minutes. It therefore doesn't just make sense, but is also highly practical, to create minute knowledge modules right from the word go, as these are ideal for subsequent reuse in a different context. This is a hugely advantageous approach, especially when it comes to the maintenance, editing and general upkeep of content. Furthermore, users interact with content in a much different manner than on a PC.

Since users 'communicate' with content by touching the display, this level of interaction is much more direct and instinctive. Since there is no mouse involved, it's best to avoid content which is depicted in such a tiny or microscopic manner that it is impossible to manipulate in the absence of a precise input method.

The main thing to remember is that this is not about elaborate or impressive content, but providing users with tangible benefits. The success of performance support measures hinges on an analysis of the end users' critical tasks – an analysis which then acts as a foundation for the development of the necessary solutions. Needless to say, this may result in a situation where conventional (mobile-friendly) e-learning is the best option for allowing the user to independently acquaint themselves with a new subject via a tablet. But this is insufficient when it comes to providing comprehensive performance support.

Opportunities for training departments

Mobile content is therefore an ideal vehicle for establishing truly effective performance support within a company. Of all a company's departments, their training department is predestined to position itself as a strategic partner in the field of mobile, workplace-based support. They therefore have the unique opportunity to expand their influence right down to the workflow level and – to put it provocatively – not just to see themselves as a supplier of information on soft and not exactly business-critical topics. In short, they can graduate from being a department which provides content that is regarded as inessential in times of crisis to establishing themselves as a competent partner in business performance.

In conclusion: It needs to be remembered that performance support (both mobile and immobile) is a strategy and not a product that can be bought by the dozen. However, to be in a position to offer cutting-edge performance support, companies need to use complementary software (EPSS, electronic performance support system) that is capable of supporting all the steps of the knowledge needs analysis and collaborative creation of content, along with the structuring and sustainable maintenance/upkeep of such content, as well as the context-sensitive distribution of information.

With its tt performance suite software, tts GmbH can make this happen. Furthermore, they will be more than happy to advise – and play an active role – in your company's endeavors to set up a performance support concept.