Technology Adoption Tools Can Flatten the Learning Curve for All

Melanie Fellay
November 20, 2023
February 17, 2021
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When it comes to change, we all know that not everyone is going to react the same to it. Some people openly embrace change while others hold back, clinging to old and possibly outdated ways of doing things. In the corporate world, change is the only constant.

Organizations are shifting from having everyone in the office to having employees work in more flexible locations, such as at home. Paperwork has largely made the shift to digital platforms, and these tools are in turn changing and being updated all the time. Working in the cloud and using a variety of apps each day is now the norm, with those apps evolving and changing as need dictates.

New technology is always being developed to meet these demands of companies and employees as well, whether they are in-office or remote. But adopting new technology means a learning curve for trainers and employees alike. Since everyone has their own reaction to anything new, this can cause issues for a company when it comes to adjusting to whatever new process or program has been introduced.

Technology adoption systems help to train workers in the use of new online tools and apps. Some take audience differences into account to be more effective. This reduces the learning curve for all and increases productivity and worker satisfaction.

The innovation adoption curve

The Diffusion of Innovation theory is a social theory dating back to 1962. It explains how quickly new ideas are accepted by a group of people such as a company. This can apply not only to ideas, but to products, new software, and new processes.

This sociological model uses the Innovation Adoption Curve to split members into five defined adopter groups (more on this below.) These groups have different psychological traits and sometimes social traits as well. This affects how quickly and easily they accept a new product or innovation, such as a new process or application.

Other factors that affect how fast each group adopts new technology include how compatible it is with a group’s needs, how hard it is to learn and use, how much it can be tested, and how effective its results are.

The five audience types

The innovation adoption curve splits an organization into five groups and takes into account the characteristics of these defined adopter groups. The psychological characteristics of the defined groups, such as personality traits, help determine how quickly each will accept a new product such as a new digital tool.

These groups, when put together, create a Bell Curve. This curve runs from more risk-taking behavior to more cautious and skeptical attitudes. The demographic and psychological characteristics of each group help to determine how quickly each will embrace the adoption process.

Innovators make up between 2 and 3 percent of employees. This group is the most willing to embrace risk and try new ideas before anyone else. They’ll be the first to jump into a new adoption process and try new digital tools. This group tends to be individualistic and well-educated.

Going from innovators to early adopters, this group will also accept new ideas quickly. They are more likely to be organizers and have more social connections than their innovator counterparts. This early adopter group is about 13% of employees and tends to have influence over later adopters when it comes to embracing new technology. They also tend to be more highly educated than other groups.

The early majority usually don’t have leadership positions in a company, but follow early adopters when it comes to acceptance of a new product such as sales enablement software. They form a vital bridge between the early adopters and the later adopters. However, they tend to be more skeptical of new processes than early adopters.

The late majority generally doesn’t accept new ideas until the early majority jumps on board. Being more skeptical of new technology, policies, and processes, they prefer to wait to see the early majority’s adoption or acceptance of a new application before trying it themselves. They’re more likely to adopt new technology due to peer pressure rather than being persuaded by the benefits of new technology. Together, the early and late majority make up the largest two audience types.

At last, laggards are the least likely to respond to technology adoption platforms. They tend to be traditional, more isolated and fixated on past ways of doing things, with fewer social connections. This group may not adopt change until far after innovators have, and may find themselves left behind.

The challenge of crossing the chasm

Learning management systems , which are tools used to train employees in new processes, digital platforms, and policy changes must take these different audience types into account when introducing a new idea or application to a company. It’s vital for a new process or tool to gain momentum not only with early adopters but with everyone else. This challenge is known as crossing the chasm .

However, many of these systems aren’t flexible enough to meet this need. Technology adoption software, which is used to create employee training, often has difficulty crossing the chasm for a few reasons.

Intimidation is a strong reason why the early and late majority may be resistant to change. If new software is hard to use or takes a long time to learn, the majority will put up resistance. Employee retention of new knowledge is often limited after attending webinars and presentations, and this leads to frustration, feeling intimidated, and spending time searching for answers on how to apply what they’ve learned.

This creates a large learning curve and often slows technology adoption over time. There’s also a negative impact on worker productivity and a rise in employee turnover.

Employees need to see how effective new changes can be. This is especially true for the early and late majority, who tend to be more skeptical of change.

Early adopters such as managers and company leaders usually ease other workers into a new process. But with remote work, this often can’t happen. The early and late majority will then delay adopting new technology.

Some technology adoption systems don’t work very well with employees’ needs. When it comes to applying new material to specific situations, workers are often left frustrated. They also don’t take remote work and the learning curve into account. Remote workers need to have learning and reinforcement available even if they’re working away from the office.

Finally, the ability to test new processes and new programs can be limited. Traditional technology adoption tools such as quizzes, presentations, and videos don’t allow employees to do much hands-on learning. This can make change more intimidating to the majority of users.

How lightweight, contextual learning can drive employee adoption

Crossing the chasm doesn’t have to be a barrier to fast and easy technology adoption for an entire company. All of these challenges can be met head-on and conquered with lightweight, contextual learning.

New, lightweight training platforms can be easily utilized by trainers and managers, and they integrate with a large variety of applications that employees use on a daily basis through something as simple as a browser extension. Training and reinforcement can easily be set to appear directly on an app’s screen, and the training can be easily customized and come in a variety of forms.

This means that as employees see step-by-step help right where they need it: within the flow of work. This is especially useful for workers in flexible locations. Knowledge base help tabs and links may appear right on the screen where employees are trying to complete specific tasks. This help may also apply to a specific situation or process too.

Contextual learning and reinforcement offer greater ease of learning than training formats of the past did not have. Using contextual learning, the early majority is more likely to make the leap to a new platform or way of doing things. And since employees are learning as they work, they start off by applying new knowledge and embracing change right away.

When this happens, the chasm has been crossed and the late majority will follow the early majority. The learning curve will flatten because the change is now far less intimidating than it was before.

Early adopters, who are likely to be trainers and managers, are also able to demonstrate the benefits of these systems. This can also help the early majority, the late majority, and eventually laggards to adopt. Saved time and frustration appeal to just about everyone.

Contextual learning can also meet the needs of remote workers and those in the office. Everyone has questions, and easy access to answers without time spent searching through databases is a must in today’s corporate world. Finally, the “hands-on” learning and reinforcement approach of lightweight learning tools gives early adopters and the majority of audiences the ability to test, and then embrace, new software, policies, and processes.

Flattening the learning curve today

No one likes a steep learning curve when it comes to technology adoption. But the hard reality is that when it comes to technology adoption, different audiences need to be taken into account. The good news is that the chasm can be crossed with the right approach to worker training and learning reinforcement. If you’re ready to dive into the world of lightweight, contextual learning, chat with us today.