Traditionally, we’ve always talked about enabling users, but, for me, this was never enough. To me, user enablement is simply one step along a very important journey. As a user, it is one thing to be trained and capable, it is quite another to have effectively adopted new behaviours/processes/systems. And why is user adoption so important? It is user adoption that enables a business to realize the benefits associated with the newly implemented SAP software (or anything else!). So here we can see the genesis of my rather grand sounding blog title – SAP Education enables business!
What does an enabled business look like? In my opinion, an enabled business has three main characteristics. An enabled business is:
So let’s look at these three in turn.
Enabling Business Agility
A successful organization is one that can move fast and respond to market demands quickly – to stay ahead of the competition. Transformation and innovation have never been easier or faster, thanks to the availability of simplified systems and technology – internet based business applications, for example. But deployment of any new system needs successful user adoption before the business sees any benefits. Historically, here is our challenge: the process of ensuring user adoption of innovative new solutions via traditional enablement methodologies has dramatically slowed the time to value.
So: how can users keep up with the pace of innovation, without the organization needing to stop the innovation cycle while they catchup? An enabled organization has a culture where learning is an everyday element of business. Learning isn’t just something you do to your users as part of the rollout of a new system. By building an infrastructure to support a learning culture, you lower the barriers to learning, and create an environment where users can draw down the required learning material at the point of need. This “pull” approach to learning then frees up resources to drive continued innovation. In this type of culture, the users become very adaptable, allowing the agile business to flourish.
Enabling Business Self-Sufficiency
A successful organization is made up of successful employees, or at least self-sufficient employees. Self-sufficiency is the link between agility and innovation. Reducing our users’ dependency on support structures frees up those skilled and expensive resources to focus on innovation and agility. So how do we achieve self-sufficient employees?
In an enabled organization, employees take responsibility for their own learning. They are used to accessing formal learning as and when they need it. Even more, learning is happening constantly in any organization. Your users are learning from their peers, from their own research, through carrying out their day to day tasks – this is what we refer to as informal learning. An enabled organization understands how this is taking place, and takes steps to maximize its effectiveness. Building a culture of continuous learning, and reducing the barriers to learning, will ensure that your users are able to take a self-directed approach to learning. Once again, putting your users in charge of their own learning reduces their dependence on central support teams, who can concentrate on driving business innovation and return on investment.
Enabling Business Innovation
Finally, a successful organization makes the most of innovation. Successful innovation in business is associated with positive changes in performance, efficiency, competitiveness and market share. As with all things, the success of innovation isn’t about a checklist of new functions and features. Successful innovation can only be measured in terms of its real business impact, and this can only be achieved if the innovation is adopted effectively within the organization. Once again, for your innovation to have the desired impact, it’s your users who will make the difference.
An enabled business has the learning culture I’ve often described in my blogs: a culture where learning is a key part of business-as-usual, where users are responsible for their own learning and where informal knowledge development is treasured as much as formal training.
What we have is a virtuous circle, a contrast to the vicious circle I have seen in many organizations. In many cases we see organizations wasting too much time on enacting change and improvements. Users wait patiently to be given new information, to be educated. By the time any innovation is fully in place, the world has moved on and left you behind.
In our enabled organizations, employees are always up to date with current requirements, which puts them in a better position to adapt to new challenges. We provide accessible formal learning, and exploit the power of informal learning to make our employees responsible for their own knowledge development. As a consequence, our subject matter experts can reduce the time they spend on support, and instead focus on developing and delivering innovation. With a self-sufficient and agile workforce, the implementation of these new innovations will be much faster, and subsequently the business will see the benefits much sooner… And on and on the benefits grow.
As I said at the beginning of this blog: SAP Education isn’t just about solutions for enabling individuals, but about enabling business.
So how can we enable your business?
Over the next few months we will be running a series of events across the APJ region where we will explore this theme of “Enabling Business” in more detail, and talk about how you can approach this transformation for yourselves. Keep on eye on this blog for specific updates regarding dates and locations.