Learning for Generation TikTok

Get invaluable insights on learning for users accustomed to experiencing content in bite-sized chunks on platforms like TikTok from Asif Rehmani, an expert in digital adoption and CEO of Visual SP. He gives advice for enhancing employee experiences, increasing user adoption, and reducing support expenses. He and hosts Rick McCutcheon and Joachim Schiermacher delve into the challenges faced by employees with the increasing complexity of computing, and how cloud computing has not necessarily made it easier for users.

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Learning for generation TikTok

Asif Rehmani on learning for generation TikTok


And I just want to say at the end that, as we talked about before, we’re living in the TikTok world. 

I completely believe that this is the generation that’s going to replace all of us in the future. And we also need to understand the short attention spans. 

How do you accommodate that within the learning, within the different phases of learning, so they have the information they need as close to them as possible to help them do their job, because if the adoption decreases or declines in a certain system, guess what?

Digital Adoption Expert Asif Rehmani Joins Digital Adoption Talks To Tell Us About Learning For The Tiktok Generation.

Asif Rehmani, CEO Visual SP


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The full transcript

[00:00:00] Talking with digital adoption expert Asif Rehmani

Rick McCutcheon: Hello everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Dynamics 365 M V P, and we’re here today on ClickLearn’s Digital Adoption Podcast. Now, we put this podcast together because there are now over 300,000 professionals on LinkedIn with digital adoption in their job titles. So we’re reaching out to the Microsoft ecosystem and we’re talking to digital adoption experts today.

We have another MVP, Asif Rehmani from VisualSP who’s going to come and talk to us about. You know what he does in the world of digital adoption. So Asif, welcome and tell the people who you are and what you do.

[00:01:00] 16x Microsoft MVP on enhancing employee experiences

Asif Rehmani: Thanks very much for having me, Rick and Joachim. Really appreciate it. Name is Asif Rehmani.

I’ve been in the Microsoft ecosystem for a very long time, 16th year as a Microsoft MVP now, and the main thing that I focus on is I talk with CIOs all over the world talking about, as Rick mentioned, Digital Adoption, talking about how to enhance employee experiences. Increase user adoption while reducing support expenses in the professional.

In in my work for the company, I’m the CEO of the value proposition, same thing being increasing user adoption, decreasing support tickets. The specific systems we focus on like Dynamics, SharePoint, Salesforce, ServiceNow, SAP, in-house custom applications. By building contextual [learning] experiences like interactive guided walkthroughs, inline help schedule, announcement banners, any kind of contextual experience that makes it easy for the user to do their job, to do their tasks.

So it reduces the support burden and increases adoption at the same time. And we’re doing that all over the world. Switzerland, Europe, south America north America, all over the place. So once again, thanks for having me. Looking forward to this. Okay, great.

Rick McCutcheon: Joachim, would you like to add anything to the intro?

Joachim Schiermacher: No.

[00:02:00] From the data adoption tooling perspective

I’m super excited to have us here on board. I know that we’ve been speaking to a lot of partners and trying to drive the ecosystem with the partners. I think it’s interesting to bring someone in who comes from the data adoption tooling side. So, you could say that Asif and I are very, friendly competitors because our value props are very different.

So, we go to market in different ways, but I know that we share a very common view on on how. We want to see user adoption door, and that seems to be much more important really than, our competitive situation in two cases annually. So I’m extremely happy to have you Asif and I look forward to a great conversation today.

[00:03:00] Cloud Computing increases applications (and distractions)

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Thank you. Asif. we’re gonna start with you on the first question, the first use of the term cloud computing. And its modern context occurred on August 9th, 2006, when then Google, CEO, Eric Schmidt introduced the term at an industry conference. This was supposed to make computing much easier. What happened?

Asif Rehmani: 2006? Obviously we’re talking about before the iPhone era, right? iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs in January, 2007. I still remember that wonderful event that most of us still watched on YouTube to just to live, relive that. If you think about it, From there, right? The complexity also increased. So it was not just the cloud capability and the availability of whatever you wanted to do.

It was always, it’s also too many options, so computing itself got easier. That’s no doubt. But the amount of options, the amount of distractions, the amount of applications, all these things went up and that’s still happening right now, as we all know. So as Joachim mentioned, also ClickLearn, I think does a great job in supplying the documentation, making quick documentation for all these applications.

[00:04:00] User confusion and frustration leads to…

What we do from the front end side for the majority is putting a contextual layer on top. So you as in-app guidance for those applications. And the reason we both do these things obviously, is because people are usually confused. They’re not usually happy with their applications. There’s a lot of frustration, and when that frustration happens, you know what?

The actual usage decreases. The adoption decreases and the support tickets go up saying, Hey, I don’t know how to do this thing. Help me. So staying focused has been very challenging for the folks that I talk to at least from the CIOs I talk to, that their users are having a tough time staying focused on task.

[00:05:00] ‘Toggle Tax’ and productivity drop

There’s a concept briefly mentioned here called the toggle tax. I dunno if you guys have heard of that, but the toggle tax basically says, I’m toggling as a user back and forth from SAP to SharePoint, to Salesforce, to Viva Vault, to you know, to whatever else. And when that happens, there’s the actual measurable productivity drop and the measurable productivity drop from what I believe Forbes put out, or I believe actually H B R put that out there.

Howard Business Review is up to a 40% hit in productivity, that’s quite a lot. So to answer your question, going back to what you originally asked Rick, the cloud computing itself is there, it’s easier, but because we are so distracted in all these different things, the actual adoption has gone down.

Unfortunately, the support tickets have gone down and, we’re trying to reverse that trend with what we are doing and with what I do. Talking to CIOs.

Rick McCutcheon: Joachim, what do you think happened since 2006?

Joachim Schiermacher: I think that the 2006 movement was a little bit different thing really in terms of cloud computing because the idea was that you don’t need a desktop computer with any solid hard drive.

[00:06:00] Impact of Browser-based applications vs. cloud computing

See, everything can be done externally. What has happened is that now you have a really powerful cpu on your desktop and a very fast hard drive, and you’re still working in the cloud. So it’s a different movement that’s going on. I think that in terms of user adoption that it has nothing to do with cloud computing from more above the web, right?

When, we saw the worldwide web coming out and the idea of browser based application, the idea was this is so much easier than what I’m doing on my AS 400 IBM mainframe system. And, that suddenly converts into an idea of you don’t really need training if it’s a web app.

[00:06:28] Employees still need training

You don’t need training. And that is the solid misunderstanding, which is present today whenever I, talk to people also inside Microsoft the, concept is basically, but it’s a web app, right? You, don’t really need training. Look you, packaged your, entire framework up with 140 different functions you can perform in order to be highly productive.

[00:07:00] Complexity of applications is increasing for users

And you’re telling me you don’t need training on that? The complexity of the application is growing while we made the user experience easier. And that does require training.

Rick McCutcheon: So it’s in, it’s interesting you both said computing got easier. Maintaining computers, building systems uploading, upgrading, that became easier.

But I don’t think anything for the user became easier because I remember sitting in front of an AS 400. Filling in a line, hitting tab and going to the next one. You’re focused on filling it in, right? Yeah. That was my job, right? That’s all I had to do. Then someone gave me a copy of ACT when I started my first business, and it had everything to follow up with somebody, write them an email, send them a letter.

I stayed in this one application all day long. And then I remember we’ve ended up with Dynamics CRM, the first version, and we built these mega CRM systems for customers, and then we put the sales rep down in front of the system and say, okay, we’re gonna teach you how to do CRM.

[00:08:00] Building and maintaining systems just got easier

And the sales reps looking at me like ’I don’t need any, I sell a lot of stuff, right?’ Yeah. So we had to teach them, and I remember the big thing was, oh, it’s going to integrate with Outlook, so we’re gonna teach you through Outlook, how to use CRM. And after about three or four groups that I trained, I said, we’re no longer gonna teach them through Outlook because that was too far too complex, right?

Where they are and what they were doing. So I think. I think building these systems, and maintaining and getting people to work together got easier. But I watched those end users and it was more challenging for them.

[00:09:00] No one asks for cloud computing

Joachim Schiermacher: I just want to make one point. I think it’s really important. No one asks for cloud computing, right?

No one asks for it. There’s not single customer out there that said, look, I really want to take all my data and bring that into a data center somewhere where I have absolutely no knowledge of where it is. No one asked for it. It’s completely driven by vendors and probably by a very, large amount of technology companies now moving into a subscription model and, venture capital saying, that’s a great idea, guys, right?

Because it’s gonna minimize your cost. We’re gonna see if effectively everything is converted into AI. So there’s a very large movement behind this that has nothing to do with what we are delivering to the client today. So cloud computing is one thing, but I think that the usability of the application, I think that it’s getting better, but we are packing it up now with new features.

Yeah. Which is, exactly the opposite movement, right? Yeah, for sure. So, there, there are two, two different directions and, I think training is perhaps more needed than ever.

[00:09:37] What training and support does the average worker need to stay productive?

Rick McCutcheon: Okay. Let’s start again with our next question. What training and support does the average information worker need to help them stay productive?Asif?

Asif Rehmani: So I agree to definitely a certain point, Joachim, what you were saying about training being important. Absolutely. Having said that, when I speak to clients and I speak at conferences I, make the statement that training is definitely important, but many times what people are asking for is help for them to do their job.

Now, it can translate into providing traditional training or some different kind of quote unquote training or support. At the end of the day, what we’re trying to accomplish is a moniker of performance support. And the whole idea behind performance support is how do I help the knowledge worker get their job done?

[00:10:25] People just want to get their jobs done and not think about training

Because that’s what they’re interested in. They want to get their job done, whether it’s with training, without training in-app help or a combination, right? They’re looking for satisfaction in their work. They’re looking for a career progression. They’re looking, especially post-Covid right now, the balance of life and work.

That’s super important for everybody.

[00:11:00] Help in the moment of need

So when I am working in a system, whether it’s Dynamics, SharePoint, whatever the application is or even supply chain, I’m in the manufacturing industry. Whatever I need to know what I need to know at the moment of my need. Help me at my moment of need, get the job done and be done.

So my thought around the whole thing over here is that this is the kind of training and support that the average inform information worker needs to help them be productive, give me answers. Don’t necessarily train me on everything because I may or may not remember later, but just give me answers and let me get my job done.

Rick McCutcheon: Would you like to add anything about what the modern computer user needs to help them get their job or keep them productive?

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, no I’m very much in the moment of need. And I can hear that we have, we are probably inspired by some of the same moments Bob Marsh and Dr. Conrad and, some of the work that they’ve been doing.

So, I think that we are very much on an inspirational level. We are at the same place, and I think that this is the trend that we are gonna see moving forward. It’s definitely that training will take place. I consider performance support in its broadest term, it is training. It’s not it’s not a disruptive activity that sets you out of your work.

[00:12:00] Training should go with the flow of work

It’s happening in the moment of need and in the flow of work, I think those are very important. But the training is still taking place. I think there’s some, things that will be very, difficult difficult to train not without doing it in moment of need. But without being disruptive. In the user’s work.

And I think that if we are looking at the average enterprise today, they have around 178 apps deployed now. Updates are coming out more frequently because of of, the SaaS movement. That means that we are getting more updates hit on, users more frequently. So I think that if we are looking at training from a traditional training perspective, exactly, we have impossible task.

[00:13:00] Training as performance support only can be problematic

If we have 178 systems and they’re being updated quarterly, there’s not enough time for any employee to even work. They’re going to do nothing but learn and that is obviously a problem. So I think that some things we are gonna put into performance support but the idea that everything is going to happen by merely doing performance support, I think that we are gonna find some really difficult conceptual challenges.

And I also think that we pushed that very large burden now onto the IT department, right? That we are expecting to keep this current in between releases, right? 178 system, multiply by four releases, keep the stuff current so it’s working right? And when you have that G P S inside your system, you really need it to work right.

It’s, not good if, the gps for some reason suddenly is not working. And that’s, been our focus from, the ClickLearn side.

Asif Rehmani: Certainly have just one more thing, if you don’t mind.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, go ahead.

[00:14:00] Training goes from macro to micro

Asif Rehmani: Just to clarify, definitely I believe in training. I have been a trainer before myself for a very long time. I used to do three to five day trainings. Every week actually, I completely believe in training, completely believe in the concept of macro learning or deep learning.

However, having said that, there’s a curve that I follow usually, which is you start with macro learning, deep learning, and then you go into contextual micro-learning. The contextual micro-learning part the kind of stuff that we provided. Visual SP. I think is super important because you cannot continue to train people and say, Hey, go to the LMS or go to whatever to find your answer or documentation.

You gotta find it right there. But there’s moments of deep learning, contextual microlearning. Again, deep learning again, microlearning, and you have to follow that curve. Depending on the phase of the learning that the person is in, are they trying to solve their problem?

Rick McCutcheon: And, just on the, just on those phases, it really depends on the person for sure, too.

[00:15:00] Learning for the TikTok generation

Younger people who have grown up within computing, they want just consistent micro, tell me what I need to know now. But I think, let’s say somebody who’s more mature but in the market, I think follow exactly what you’re talking about.

Asif Rehmani: Yeah, I completely agree with you and the generation that we’re in right now, I call it the TikTok generation.

It’s gonna get harder and harder for all of us to do our job, to be honest. So good luck to us.

Joachim Schiermacher: Yeah, I think they’re fast. They’re fast learners coming out of this, right? They learn extremely fast and they know and the entire idea of the internet is they’re always expecting to learn from the internet.

[00:15:30] Adopt knowledge in a crash course

And they expect to get that ball down to a, nothing more than one minute session because that’s about the attention span. So nothing more than that. But they are fast learner, right? They adopt knowledge in a crash course

Rick McCutcheon: Here’s, the next question. This is really important.

We all understand it’s very important. Why are most Microsoft partners laggards when it comes to opening up a digital adoption department in their companies? Joachim do you wanna go first?

[00:16:03] Why are most Microsoft partners laggards when it comes to opening up a digital adoption department in their companies?

Joachim Schiermacher: I think very short. I think short term there’s a lack of of dynamics consultants right?

So we, we are seeing a job market request, a similar of people out there. So it’s a question of I think the main thought is that what else can I use my resources for, right? So instead of building up a digital adoption platform, I can get the resources to do more on the implementation side and develop basically more money for the business.

And I think that’s, absolutely a lot of money to be picked up. What I think that is part of the missing equation is, it’s a completely new type of people that you’re looking for. So it’s, not an eat all. It’s not about getting the Microsoft people and occupying their valuable resources by doing something different.

[00:17:00] Need the right people to deliver learning

It’s about getting someone that has more of a learner’s background and getting them in to make sure that we deliver the right learning for the organizations. And I think. If you look at this from a consumption perspective, from a usability perspective, how much is or, optimization and and the use of the software, I think you’ll find that this is an extremely good investment.

I think the resources can actually be sold out there. So there’s a market as there’s a demand out there for someone taking this serious and saying, look, I know that it’s not just about the implementation. I know there’s something behind this. So I think that it’s a question of catching up and knowing that there’s a new set of resources that we can employ and, get working inside our organization without competing on, the existing dynamic.

Asif Rehmani: Yeah.

Rick McCutcheon: Asif what, do you think partners need to do?

[00:18:00] What do partners need to do?

Asif Rehmani: Well. I very much agree with what Joachim was saying, and I think all this all started, especially from big vendors when their eyes open, they started to become the actual host when the cloud computing happened, and they became the host for many of these organizations, and they found out that the metrics that they thought were out there, were not because now they were seeing the actual usage of, okay, how much actual dynamics is being used, how much actual SharePoint and Stream and planner, and all the other applications. And we’re of course way beyond just the Microsoft system. We’re talking about Salesforce and SAP and others, any kind of provider, when they’re able to see the actual usage.

[00:18:31] Systems are more transparent in showing adoption rates

They know that is the digital literacy for the people who are actually supposed to be using it. Is it high or low? Because now they can measure it. They can see what’s happening, what’s not happening, and they freaked out when this happened, when they started happening back in the day, they’re like, uhoh, or these, people will not renew.

Unless we help them with adoption and change management. And I think that’s the point.

[00:19:00] Implementation, configuration, and digital adoption

That was the inflection point many years ago where the ACM, the Adoption Change management concept became important to the big vendors and they started pushing it down to partners saying, Hey guys. You need to make this a priority.

This is real. This is more than just pushing it out there. Like Joachim was saying, implementation is not the only thing. Implementation, configuration, and then digital adoption is also very important. In fact, you should be planning for that before the implementation. Otherwise you get one shot. People don’t adopt.

[00:19:20] If people don’t adopt they go back to the old way they did it

Guess what? You have to go back to the old ways of doing things. Otherwise they cannot do their job. As you both know. And you’ve done that as well. I, speak at many conferences on digital adoption specifically. And this is not a phenomenon that’s local to a specific geography. This is everywhere in the world, exact same challenges, exact same issues, but the challenge being that why are companies still laggards in digital adoption?

Because it’s very difficult to measure. It’s very difficult to measure adoption. You can measure specific clicks, you can measure specific usage of certain things, but adoption is still hard to manage. You can’t just say that, okay, people are going to this particular page or these pages and adoption is happening.

[00:20:00] User adoption needs to be a service offered continually

Great. That’s not how it works, right? What is the actual business value? Am I getting out of it? How do I measure it? And because the measurement has still been hard, user adoption has been hard. Many people still treat this unfortunately as a project. I talk about this all the time, that user adoption has gotta be a service that you have to offer continuously.

And you cannot just do this project and be done saying, okay we’re done with user adoption. That doesn’t work that way. You have to continue to measure it, continue to support your users. And empathize with them that empathy is very, important for them to understand that you care and then they will care about what you care.

I think a lot of the partners still don’t, unfortunately get it. And from us, from Visual SP side, we’re trying to spread the word. I’m sure you guys are doing the same thing to help the partners build their ACM practice so, they can understand exactly how best they can do it for their customers.

Rick McCutcheon: Okay, gentlemen, thank you for your time today. This has been an incredibly good conversation on digital adoption Joachim. Any closing remarks for today?

[00:21:00] At the end of the day, if the users don’t use it, it is useless

Joachim Schiermacher: An absolute pleasure having you Asif I hope we can welcome you in another call. I feel that we have so much to talk about and although I, we may disagree on things as it seems more like that it’s a Gulliver’s Travels In big engines and small engines here.

I think that on the very large missions, I think that we are really aligned on where this should be.

Asif Rehmani: Yeah, I agree as well. Since I’ve met both of you guys and I know what you think about, I completely agree with the sentiments and the end goal that you’re trying to accomplish.

And same thing we’re trying to accomplish. Also, at the end of the day, if the actual users don’t use something that we put out there, everything else is. Useless, completely. Now, the way you do that, it could be through services, through a specific product, through training, through performance support or a combination.

[00:22:00] How to accommodate for the short attention span of the TikTok world

The way is definitely important, but the goal is the most important thing. And I just wanna say at the end that as we talked about before, we’re living in the TikTok world. I completely believe that this is the generation that’s going to replace all of us in the future, and we also need to understand the short atten attention spans.

How do you accommodate that within the learning, within the different phases of learning? So they have the information they need as close to them as possible to help them do their job. Because if the adoption decreases or declines in a certain system, guess what this generation’s gonna say, okay, I’m done.

I’m, outta here. I’m doing what I was doing before.

[00:22:32] It’s easier than ever to delete an app that isn’t working

Rick McCutcheon: And this generation can delete an app off their phone. Bingo, in the seconds. And I think the big vendors think uh oh once these guys are in charge, they may be deleting us on cloud.

Asif Rehmani: It’s already happening with some of that stuff.

[00:23:00] Great combination for supporting learners

Yeah. So we believe in the contextual microlearning, micro support, and micro communication systems. And I think with a combination of macro learning and contextual micro-learning together is a great combination to support our current learners and information workers as well as our future ones as well.

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