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The Channel Angle: A Holistic Approach To User Enablement

EPAM Systems’ Keth Crotty explains why a unified content strategy can foster long-term relationships with partners and customers in this month’s Channel Angle column.

[Editor’s note: The Channel Angle is a monthly CRN guest column written by an executive that focuses on the triumphs and challenges that solution providers face. If you are a solution provider executive interested in contributing, please contact managing editor David Harris.]

By Keth Crotty

With any new piece of technology, there is always an adoption process as people must grow accustomed to it before they assimilate the device or gadget into their lives. This form of adoption applies to complex B2B products as well – however, the emphasis is on end-user continuing productivity and engagement. To ensure that customers and partners get lifetime value from products, vendors must invest in user enablement, which is the continuous process of providing users with knowledge, resources and support.

Although user enablement can be time and effort intensive, forgoing this strategy could result in process inefficiency and, ultimately, users failing to adopt the product and abandoning it. Whereas companies are becoming more dependent on implementing new technology, vendors must position themselves as valuable and longstanding partners through continuous user enablement.

Holistic Approach to User Enablement

While there are various ways to implement user enablement, a holistic approach, unlike a transactional one, implies continuous user education in advance, on-demand and at the moment of need. This approach improves not only engagement and productivity, but also fosters user retention.

Developing a continuous user education journey begins by implementing a robust and unified content strategy that considers everything from ownership and management to distribution and updates. Product knowledge and content resources are often authored by loosely coupled teams resulting in disjointed KPIs, inconsitent messaging, look and feel, and fragmented user experience. Unified content strategy helps to identify gaps in content structure and authoring processes, improves content consistency and saves time, costs and resources for content development and versioning.

Key Components of a Unified Content Strategy

  • Content lifecycle analysis (including management technology and authoring processes) from a quality, accessibility, taxonomy and operations perspective, as well as consistency when the content is reused.
  • Alignment in information architecture – the classification, taxonomy and tagging conventions, as well as processes and standards for content development, management and curation.
  • Content micronization – the process of breaking down the content into small chunks of engaging information for use across all integrated systems.
  • Single-source authoring approach via an integrated collaborative content management platform.

Dynamic Content Delivery and Personalization

A unified content strategy is an underlying principle of holistic user enablement because it helps to organize user support and product knowledge for effective content delivery. Companies often have many systems in place to support their internal and external users – learning management systems, knowledge bases, support portals, digital adoption platforms, etc. Dynamic delivery of personalized and engaging content from a single source of truth helps to streamline user experience throughout all these systems.

As a part of content strategy, micronization allows repackaging the content in various combinations and applying eLearning techniques for effective knowledge transfer and retention. eLearning tactics help to enrich the content with different types of interactivity and media-rich, uplifted formats for better user education. Moreover, microlearning allows collecting additional user behavior and content data for optimization, improvements and targeted recommendations. Further, the recommendation engine picks up relevant pieces of the microcontent and serves them dynamically throughout the user learning journey.

Preventing Change-Resistant Users

Often, people are resistant to change and don’t like to have their routines disrupted. So, for vendors to be successful in the long run, it is essential that their products or services be valuable but, more importantly, easily adaptable. A holistic approach to user enablement ensures ongoing context-based user education in advance, in the process of using the technology and on-demand. This eventually helps adopting the product, keeping high levels of productivity and usage and mitigating the resistance to future rollouts.

Keth Crotty is the director of account management at Newtown, Pa.-based IT consultant EPAM Systems where he specializes in educational technologies, corporate training and content services. With more than 13 years’ experience, he has helped a variety of global clients build, implement, integrate and support numerous corporate and government projects.

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