In this blogpost, Olga Gomonova, Unqork's Head of Client Enablement discusses the lessons learned from our recent "Technology Education in the Digital Age" panel discussion and previews our "Enablement Tech Stack: Building a Modern Center of Knowledge" webinar on Tuesday June 9.
Since I joined Unqork in July 2018 it’s been a whirlwind ride. I've been involved in building out Unqork's enablement function from scratch at the same time that our client base rapidly expanded to include many Fortune 500 firms and our employee headcount went from a few dozen to more than 200.
Describing the process as “building the engine as the plane is flying” doesn’t quite capture it.
Enablement is an exciting and fast growing domain. I recently helped organize a virtual panel on “Technology Education in the Digital Age” with some leaders in this space. I've included some key lessons below, or you can download an expanded document of takeaways here.
In addition to myself, our panel consisted of Claire Boger and Allison Selby from Collibra, Teresa Chan from Columbia University, Koby Rosenschein at Goldman Sachs, and moderated by our very own CMO, Alex Schmelkin. The combined group has decades of experience in the education, learning and technology startup and corporate space and we covered a range of topics.
COVID-19 and remote learning
Alex kicked off with a question on how the remote work trend is impacting learning.
“We approach everything from a virtual first perspective” said Claire, highlighting how demand for learning has increased due to COVID-19 and also emphasizing that the virtual first trend is accelerating. There was broad agreement among the group on the importance of multi mode delivery, combining in person delivery with group learning and also office hours as a great way to achieve leverage and also learning by doing.
“We want to really focus on the customer, who is the student, who may be a professional, who is working a full-time job and who may have family and other responsibilities” added Teresa further emphasizing the importance of flexibility, making the learning relevant, and asynchronous and online delivery.
Hiring for enablement
From my perspective, I have been lucky to have senior management support, from the CEO down, in getting the resources to build out the enablement function within Unqork, however, one of the challenges has been hiring the right skill sets.
Key traits we discussed for successful hires are an intrinsic interest in teaching and helping people, combined with an interest in learning the product in depth and an ability to communicate well.
“I’ve found the best hires to be people who are curious, who enjoy teaching, and who are always looking to learn from SMEs,” said Koby.
Where does enablement fit within an organization?
A common question is where does the enablement function best fit within an organization, at Unqork, we have a broad remit, covering employee onboarding and education and customer success whereas in many organizations, enablement has a narrow focus on sales enablement. There was a general consensus that sitting within customer facing teams is a good fit for the enablement function.
“By sitting within customer success we have much more first hand knowledge on the solutions that clients are looking for and how to maintain consistency across various levels of professional services,” said Allison.
Watch the full replay of the discussion above.
How to measure success or ROI for investments in enablement?
There are lots of mechanisms to measure success and some are easier to track than others. At a first order level, tracking how many people you reach with your content and reducing support calls for certain commonly asked questions are good metrics to use.
A next level is how does customer satisfaction and product adoption vary from those who have been trained to those who don’t and how are you changing behaviors among your clients so they are adopting best practices and becoming better users of the product.
The rising importance of community and gamification
Building communities and investing in badges & certifications are a great way to empower champions for your product and tech companies seem to be leading the way. For badges and credentials, the importance of recognition was a recurring theme, if the badge or credential has weight and is widely regarded then it will be successful. Another tactic is to create competition among service providers for certifications.
“Gamification is about winning,” said Claire.
Technology trends and the importance of analytics
There was broad agreement that investing in capturing user patterns in the product and also learner patterns in the curriculum through analytics is a great strategy. This can provide leading indicators on client sentiment and also identify potential sales opportunities.
“We created a data lake, to track causal relations between behaviors and outcomes “if they take these courses, they are more likely to close on these new offerings and expand their account or they are in trouble with this piece of the product and it needs to be enhanced” said Claire.
Each member of the group was excited by the rapid pace of technology progress around enablement, there is a general view that the tech is evolving to the point people can focus more on the content and learning than on the learning tool itself and also more content is creating more demand in a virtuous cycle. Koby was excited by the emergence of tools that allow SMEs to easily create and share learning materials.
The Collibra team are excited around plans for a data lake and to capture more data and feed back to their customer success and even sales teams.
“How can we take the user data and become a data driven enablement solution,” said Allison.
Join us for the next webinar!
As mentioned above, I have summarized 30 takeaways from the panel, which you can download here.
This was Unqork's first virtual panel, which we had actually been planning before COVID-19, as we believe the work environment is becoming increasingly digital. Since the webinar, I personally have been busy working on a number of COVID-19 projects, as Unqork has been helping NY city address the crisis in numerous ways ranging from building a logistics platform helping to deliver meals to Project Cupid a digital hub that enables virtual marriages in a time of social distancing.
Still, it's clear there is interest to learn more about enablement, which is why I encourage you to sign-up for my next exclusive event “Enablement Tech Stack: Building a Modern Center of Knowledge” on Tuesday June 9 at 12pm EST.