Adapting to software changes using AI

The email that everyone dreads from HR: ‘please choose one of these three full days to make yourself available for training on updates to the company ERP software…’

Nobody looks forward to software training, especially if it’s on premise in a classroom session. At least if you’re having to attend refresher training from home on Zoom or Teams you can sit in your track-suit bottoms and fluffy slippers with the cat on your lap!

Software classroom training is known to be extremely expensive and questionably efficient. People forget what they have learned very quickly unless the information is used in practical terms right away. It might seem easy at the time when the trainer says something like “Don’t enter anything other than whole numbers into box A – round down by default” – but then you lose your written notes a week later. Was it round up to the nearest whole number? And was that box B?  If training is practical, and you perform the task immediately as you’re being taught about it, memory retention of the process improves vastly.

Furthermore, classroom training takes people away from their day-to-day tasks, so by definition it’s costly in terms of lost productivity. You’d think with all the technological advances in our daily lives, there would be a better solution for employees and businesses alike. Fortunately there is. It’s called the DAP digital adoption platform.

What happens if I press this…?

A DAP allows software operators to learn and adopt new practices on the fly, because it offers a secondary teaching layer of user experience and user interface (UX and UI) which run alongside the primary software being used.  Imagine a new starter to a job or even an experienced operator of a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Their role might be to speak with customers and colleagues and then enter data, facts and figures into the ERP screens – but the order and appearance of those screens suddenly changes one day due to a major platform update.

Rather than attend an inconvenient, lengthy, tedious and costly classroom training session, the DAP acts like a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful colleague sitting over the operator’s shoulder, prompting whenever errors are made, or even if they are about to be made. When the person tries to enter a decimal into box A, as mentioned in the example above, the DAP might flash up a message ‘whole numbers can only be entered in this field. Please round down by default’.  Very soon, the operator learns the process because the help is so obvious and practically useful. Such ‘smart tooltips’ will soon be incorporated into every software package, running a DAP alongside, almost certainly integrated at the time of agile software  development by publishers of the package.

AI anticipating human error

But how can a DAP prompt operators before they make mistakes? This is where the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into its own. DAPs use AI to hyper-personalize the tooltips and hints that they show to users. If a brand-new employee is a bit of a slow learner, and they tend to make the same errors constantly in the same places in their workflow, the DAP’s AI will anticipate this, and before a mistake is made, might prompt: ‘The next field can only have whole numbers in box A, please round down by default’.

Crucially, as the rookie operator becomes familiar with their workflow, the DAP stops offering tooltips on that subject as it learns that the operator is becoming increasingly competent. The DAP will then offer tips further down the line, where the operator may still be less sure of themselves. This individually presented smart training is very efficient, as it offers fewer distractions to operators and encourages them to pick up new workflows very quickly.

Such DAP-powered assistance is particularly helpful when employees are accessing software while working from home. If you’re sitting at your kitchen table in your dressing gown, it’s a bit difficult to go tap your colleague on the shoulder two desks away and ask: “what do I type in box A?”

Minority Report meets purchase ledger

The natural extension of hints, tips and prompts appearing on a user’s computer screen is almost certainly going to arrive in the form of augmented reality and virtual reality (AR & VR) sooner than later. Monitors will probably become consigned to history as people use AR and VR headsets to operate software in the cloud. The WFH kitchen table is going to look very different. No keyboard, no monitor, no laptop, just an employee with a headset holding some sort of click device in the palm of one hand, possibly waving their arms around as they click and tap virtual buttons, perhaps while walking along a ‘virtual corridor’ of data input. You can even imagine a hologram hovering above the employee’s coffee cup, where the Tom Cruise Sci-Fi movie ‘Minority Report’ meets purchase ledger accounts!

That might sound far fetched, but it’s probably going to happen before the end of the current decade.