There is a common theme these days; one that I have heard from customers of all types. It seems all organizations, from Fortune 100’s to local law firms, from Universities to remote public schools, are trying to “do more with less”. Their objective is to accomplish the same amount of work, the same mission, and even grow and prosper, while reducing costs.
I recently visited with the Executive Leadership of a small School District. They invited me to meet with them for the day to discuss the latest developments and trends in technology and collaboration. The purpose of the meeting was quickly conveyed to me by the opening statement from the Superintendent. He was looking to technology to solve his current dilemma – they had to cut several million dollars out of their budget and find ways to reduce costs, while still serving their students. He was trying to avoid cutting staff, the obvious first choice in cost reduction, because he knew that, ultimately, the result would be a drop in student graduation rates. He, like many other leaders in education and business today, is looking to increase efficiency. For the next seven hours, we took a virtual tour of a variety of technologies with this theme in mind.
Here is a summary of what I learned from our conversation:
Invent – We are all inventors, creating the future every day. It is not the technology that makes the difference; it is how we apply it to accomplish our mission that matters most. It may come as a surprise, but often, manufacturers do not fully understand all of the ways their products can be implemented. We, as the implementers of technology, need to think outside of the box and look for new ways to approach the challenges that face our organizations.
Start by questioning the status quo:
- Does all staff training and content delivery need to be done in person?
- Can staff trainings, especially mandatory/compliance education be delivered via on demand video or real-time streaming?
- Does the student need to be in the classroom, and does the instruction need to be done live?
Presentation capture technologies are becoming increasingly common in both business and Higher-Education, where the technology is referred to generically as “lecture capture”. It is my opinion that once the true capabilities of these kinds of technologies are fully understood, they will change how organizations deliver their services resulting in substantial cost reductions, enhanced services and a better user experience.
More information at: www.chariotgroup.com/mediasite/Default.aspx.
Reevaluate – This applies to a host of topics, but in this case, I am specifically referring to the use of technology. Just because an organization recently implemented a new technology, does not mean it is being used appropriately or to its fullest extent. An organization, and its management, must be open to expanded use options for its existing resources and actively engage other user groups for better ways to implement the tools it already has available to it.
Videoconferencing is a great example of a technology that can be a very expensive capital investment with high operating costs. Unfortunately, it is often used inappropriately or inefficiently, and therefore, organizations do not get the full return on their investment. Worse yet, the high operating cost of these systems may prevent the implementation of lower cost collaboration options that offer both an opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of the existing videoconference system as well as an excellent low cost standalone alternative when face-to-face communication is not required.
SMART Technologies Bridgit® is one example of this type of low cost collaboration offering. More information available at: http://www.chariotgroup.com/smart/smart_bridgit.aspx
Engage – There is an old saying in the sales profession, “Make it easy for your customers to buy”. The term ‘customer’ encompasses a variety of groups including an organization’s employees, clients and/or students.
In this multi-generational time, where an organization can have up to four different generations of ‘customers’ (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Y), all of whom have different needs, values and expectations – “making it easy” across the board “for your customers to buy” means utilizing a variety of methods to get them engaged.
Delivering content and exchanging ideas via alternative methods that the ‘customer’ prefers will be the key to fostering this engagement; whether that engagement means getting students exciting about learning, employees interested in their work environment or clients buying your products.
To summarize, ask the tuff questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Get creative, invent and engage! This is an exciting time and opportunity for us all to make changes for the better, create a more efficient and fun work environment, and make the technology work for us instead of the other way around!