Toronto Star - Training Vs. Technology

By October 5, 2012
OfflinePhoto of Christine Gondos

With so many different technology solutions promising to help your business pain points, Cody Pierson, Marketing Manager for Martyn Bassett Associates explores where to invest if you a limited budget. In his article, he features insights from Igloo Software Senior Vice President, Marketing & Operations, Andrew Dixon.

Doing more with what you have is an essential skill for successful businesses.

Whether early-stage or well-established, growing exponentially or in a slump, there are countless conferences, coaches and technologies that promise to help companies do just that. The challenge is deciding where to invest a limited budget.

The key to investing resources is remembering the essential difference between technology and training. Training solves fundamental problems, while technology solves specific problems. For example, let's focus on communicating with clients.

"About 20% of a knowledge workers' day is spent reading and responding to e-mail," says Andrew Dixon, SVP Marketing & Operations at Igloo Software, which develops social business software. "Wouldn't it be great to be able to invest in technology that allowed you to reach a much broader set of clients and prospects in that time?"

Technology can typically improve the efficiency of a task process but, according to Nicki Weiss, President of Saleswise sales training and coaching, you need to ensure that the fundamental skills are in place before looking to technology. Essentially, a company needs to ensure that its employees are communicating effectively in order to get the maximum benefit from the improved efficiency.

"It's people that make things work, and people that screw things up," he says. "While systems are important, people run the show.  And if people are not trained or coached, no system or process will work well."

With that in mind there are a few things you need to establish before deciding where to invest: what is the problem you need to solve? Is it the result of a lack of skills or a lack of efficiency?

If the skills are missing there's no tool that will fill the gap, but if it's a lack of efficiency there's a good chance a tool exists to improve your process.

According to Dixon, technology is evolving beyond simply streamlining business processes. It's a tool users can leverage to tap into knowledge that's already in the company instead of paying to have that knowledge imported.

"The right type of technology enables users to get access to knowledge when they need it, as opposed to investing in one-time training in anticipation of some future event," he says.

You'll never be able to foresee and prepare for every eventuality, and sometimes the knowledge you need simply doesn't exist within an organization. That's why Nicki Weiss encourages investment in long-term professional development in order to build that knowledge base, as opposed to one-time training events.

"You can't spray on skills. You can't spray on discipline," he says. "That's what happens at one-off events."

Investing in a robust training program can ensure that any technology brought into the organization will be used effectively, but you'll need to take a long-term view of the investment. By contrast, technological solutions can help an organization compete with larger competitors and eliminate the waste that comes from outdated or inefficient practices. In a perfect world you'd be able to invest in both, but an honest assessment of your business challenges will tell you what's right for your company.

"It's about continuous learning, continuous investment, continuous improvement," says Weiss. "Business isn't an event, and neither should investing in people and processes be an event."

Read the full article here.


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Christine Gondos
October 5, 2012

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