The Internet of Things – New Opportunities & Challenges

Sify will be participating at Gigaom Structure Connect 2014 on 21st and 22nd October in San Francisco. This event is focused on the Internet of Things. I am excited at this opportunity to hear from industry leaders and pioneers in this space. Internet of Things has the potential to turn performance support on its head. It also opens up immense training challenges as companies will have to rethink their products and how they sell them. New skill sets are required to compete in a new paradigm.

Check out this infograhic from Intel. Couldn’t help noticing the typo!

infographic

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Uncategorized

The Future of Work

Infographics

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Posted in Talent Management

Test Strategies for Mobile Apps in the Enterprise

I am diving straight to the point. If you are launching a slew of mobile apps for your enterprise, read on (courtesy – IBM).

1. Characteristics of a High Quality Mobile App

The expectations of quality when it comes to mobile apps is different when compared to that of enterprise applications. With mobile apps, we are used to high standards of user-centric designs as our first exposure to mobile apps was outside the enterprise. This mental reference carries forward to the enterprise. In short, a high quality enterprise mobile app should be bug free for sure but in addition should be well designed, secure, functionally complete and stable.

2. Lower Budgets to tackle Increasing Complexity

The cost of building a mobile app has come down significantly. All major platforms provide comprehensive SDKs and we also have plenty of platform-agnostic development tools available for building mobile apps. That’s great news, but keep in mind the fact that your mobile app has to work consistently across of thousands of OS – Device variations in an increasingly BYOD world. When the cost of building the mobile app goes down, don’t expect your management team to ramp up your test budgets.

3. To Fix or Not To Fix?

Testing mobile apps requires a keen understanding of what the users can tolerate and what they cannot. Testing strategy should take this “tolerance” band into consideration. Example,if you are launching an app that delivers critical financial information to traders, you better make sure the app works flawlessly in terms of functionality and remains secure. You may sacrifice user experience at the altar of functionality and security in this case.

4. Integration Can Derail Your Mobile App

Enterprise mobile apps invariably works with other back-end systems such as ERPs or other legacy applications. These back-end applications have their own development and test cycles. Ability to stay one step ahead of these moving parts is key to maintaining the integrity of your enterprise mobile applications. Having access to a sandbox to test these integrations upfront with dummy data is critical.

5. In the Wild Testing

Round up a bunch of users or hire them from service providers to test your apps in the real world early on in the development lifecycle. This should be considered as a key test strategy and not a afterthought.

Some Useful Mobile Application Test Tools

I believe in Karma. So I spent my weekend curating a list of mobile testing tools to give you a head-start. BTW, I am not affiliated with any of these companies.

Applause  – Analytics for crashes, bug reports and user feedback for apps.

Appium – This is a open source tool.

SOASTA  Aother test automation tool.

Eggplant – Another popular tool.

DeviceAnywhere and Perfecto Mobile – if you need access to devices on the cloud for testing.

Of course, the usual suspects – Silk Mobile and IBM Rational.

And one more thing.

Cartoon Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Mobile Learning

There is nothing funny about WittyParrot

In any business context and content is the king. But bringing the two together i.e. the right content for the right context, is still a major challenge. Let  me illustrate this problem in the enterprise learning and development domain.

Take the case of a sales rep on the field. Enterprises have all kinds of training programs designed to equip sales teams with insights, information, knowledge and hopefully “wisdom” needed to close deals. But all of these tools, be it CRM tools (like Salesforce), Collaboration tools (like Yammer), Learning Management Systems (such as SumTotal, Saba, SuccessFactors or Cornerstone) and other islands of content (videos, documents, presentations) operate on a “pull model”.  A pull model essentially means the sales rep has to actively look for content or subscribe to content feeds. Great model as long as you know where to find the right content when you need it. Good luck with that!

Here is where WittyParrot, a fast growing Bay Area startup, makes a difference. I had the opportunity to meet its founders – Anil Jwalanna and Rajesh Setty (seen in the photo below), last week.

WittyParrot

According to founders, WittyParrot should be seen as a content concierge that is always listening to you and shares with you what is relevant when you need it, without asking for it or searching for it. We certainly don’t want anyone listening to us all the time, but in the enterprise, this is invaluable. In other words, WittyParrot provides an intelligent “push model” for sharing relevant content.

WittyParrot analyzes emails, documents, videos, presentations, and even applications like Salesforce, to organize small chunks of information or insights called Wits. Wits can be a few lines of text, documents, presentations or any other content. These Wits show up automatically based on what is relevant for the user. So if I am updating my Salesforce opportunity data, relevant Wits (based on the opportunity being updated) show up automatically. All the user has to do, is to just drag and drop the relevant content into the email or the application! Not only that, you get to also track data on how these Wits are used. This provides a lot of intelligence such as training gaps that need to be addressed or customer concerns that need a resolution.

In summary, all of the organization’s wisdom can potentially be made available to all the employees when they need them! Finally, someone is listening.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Knowledge Management, Social Collaboration, Social Learning, Training

The Four Horsemen of IT Customer Education Apocalypse

The rather ominous sounding title for this post is not just another desperate attempt to gain views from unsuspecting and curious readers. I have attempted to summarize the biggest challenges my customers are confronting when it comes to delivering customer education in the IT industry.

Not Measuring Business Impact: Offering the right training intervention to every customer team member that may be using your product has a huge impact on the successful implementation of your product. At the end of the day, customer education should be geared towards increasing the success probability of your customer’s ability to  leverage your product for meeting specific business objectives. According to IDC, “Most vendors do not articulate the performance measures that their training is intended to influence. Therefore, they are unable to describe the business impact that successfully trained or skilled workers will have on the performance of the related technology. Technology training vendors have very few tools to convince a technology buyer of the benefit associated with a skilled IT workforce. This disconnect makes it difficult to effectively describe the opportunity cost of spending a dollar on training as opposed to some other essential need.”

1280px-Apocalypse_vasnetsov

Locked up in a Classroom: If you are used to just delivering classroom based courses to educate your customers and partners, its time to reexamine your training strategy. Classroom courses are certainly required to address complex topics or suitable for training users on complex hardware devices. Embracing a lean classroom training model (should I apply for a trademark?) is the way forward. When we deconstruct any classroom training, you will find that there are possibly three components, namely:

- Training that can be converted into self-study material that your audience can review before the class.

- Training that cannot be delivered any other way other than in a classroom.

- Post-training reinforcement or activities that can be delivered as self-study material.

If you haven’t done this exercise on your existing classroom training portfolio, you will never be able to scale your customer education delivery capability.

Free for All:  Content is created and delivered in various forms. Without a consistent method, content development becomes a melting post of PowerPoint Presentations, PDF files, Webinar recordings, videos and everything else you can imagine. Suddenly you have a wealth of content that is as good as a builder staring at an iron ore mine. You may want steel to start construction, but you are free to mine the iron and forge the steel! Customer education in the IT industry is a prisoner of speed. Speed of content being generated by different employees using different standards and methods is your nemesis unless you put in place authoring standards, processes and tools.

Our Training Sells Itself: At the end of the day, customer education should be seen as a sales-driven approach to packaging content for various types of audiences, content formats, delivery methods, and most importantly ease of access across devices. Having a comprehensive eCommerce functionality and intuitive user interface is best accomplished through custom portal development or products specializing in addressing the needs of customers. Internal LMS applications usually fall short. Concepts like cross promotions, social media updates, email marketing, certification programs are required to sell training.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

Posted in Uncategorized

Enterprise Mobility – Gearing Up for the Big Bucks

Enterprise Mobility has already cornered the mind-share of the CIO and will eventually be the central focus of any IT Department. This is great news for Mobile Learning initiatives as the drive for supporting mobile devices will allow Learning & Development teams to confidently move forward with mobile learning and performance support initiatives without doubt or worrying about the IT department clamping down on such initiatives.

Big vendors have already made their moves in solidifying their hold on key components in the Enterprise Mobility solution stack. Kinvey has put together a map of all the key vendors in this space to depict their acquisitions and investments.

Chart showing Entperprise Mobility vendors and their investments in the enterprise mobility solution stack

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Mobile Learning, Smartphones

Why do Enterprise Social Networks Fail?

Great infographics from Business Goes Social on factors that doom Enterprise Social Collaboration projects.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Social Collaboration

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