Digital Enablement As the New Training: How This Founder Is Rethinking Upskilling For Knowledge Workers

Over the last 12 months, the seismic pressures of digital transformation necessary for organizations not only looking to survive, but also thrive post pandemic, have ballooned. According to McKinsey, 72% of organizations have experimented with and invested in new technologies since the onset of COVID-19. However, this transformation can only be as effective as the internal talent at these organizations utilizing these new cutting-edge digital tools. So as we think about how to get more Americans back to work post-pandemic, it’s clear there needs to be better software training systems in place to promote this critical digital adoption with employees.

As a former manager in corporate training myself, this is a pain point I’ve experienced firsthand. As the pace of change is more rapid than ever at organizations, training content lags behind, trapped in PDFs and PowerPoints that are static and outdated. I’m excited for a new wave of digital adoption tools to emerge to address this training problem for knowledge workers.

Spekit, a digital adoption and enablement platform for in-app training, is one company doing just that. Spekit was born out of co-founder and CEO Melanie Fellay’s own personal experiences working at a fast-paced San Francisco startup, and watching the company struggle to onboard Salesforce to their 150 employee base. After just one year and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in onboarding, the company contemplated churning off the Salesforce platform.

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The failed results aren’t too surprising given app turnover is 30% per year and for every $1 spent on Salesforce, another $5 is spent on additional servicesto get it up and running. However, instead of giving up, Fellay was given the task to reverse the failed Salesforce implementation. She essentially overhauled the onboarding process, reimplementing it in an easier to use, integrated manner. This experience for the team was so timely, costly, and downright painful, that Fellay knew there had to be a better way.

While there are a number of tools on the market that aim to solve this training pain point, Fellay argues many of them lack end-to-end abilities. “I looked at three categories of software – Learning Management Systems (LMS), Digital Adoption Tools, and Knowledge Management Solutions. But thought, ‘do I really need to purchase three more tools just to be able to support our employees? That’s three more places our content is scattered and that’s not going to solve our problems,’” Fellay said.

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She elaborated, “I wished there was a platform that combined a learning platform’s ability to consolidate content, integrated that content into our systems (so as our system changed we could pull in new processes), and offered the contextual nature of a digital adoption system so that our employees could learn in their flow of work. Basically, I wished there was a tool that could educate my employees on how to navigate their applications while reinforcing all the knowledge (playbooks, policies, procedures, etc.) in those same applications, so they had all the information they need to be successful right where they’re working.”

Fellay ended up building these wishes into Spekit, which first set out to tackle the challenges of onboarding Salesforce, given the common and complex nature of the platform. Salesforce’s endless customization makes it so every user has a completely unique platform interaction. However, Spekit’s research shows 44% of teams change or update processes in tools like Salesforce every two weeks, meaning employees are not only required to learn their own unique interactions during onboarding, but they also have to keep up with the constantly changing tools post-onboarding.

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Today, people embrace new technology in every aspect of their personal lives, but this mindset hasn’t yet been adopted in the working world. Fellay believes, “[Training] has become such a common and universal business challenge, but at the same time, it’s become so acceptable to have a subpar employee experience.”

Spekit’s end users are knowledge workers who use platforms like Salesforce and other tools in their roles across sales, customer support, and customer success, in industries across SaaS, Financial Services, Healthcare, Airlines, and Real Estate. Spekit has created bite-sized content creation with their out-of-the-box training content and editor, which includes training sessions like Financial Services Cloud 101, CPQ, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Salesforce Lightning, and more.

Most of Spekit’s customers come to them during one of two trigger points: 1) An upcoming period of high growth (like after a big acquisition) where they know their current training processes won’t scale, or 2) An upcoming event (such as a critical sales campaign) that needs to be successful where their previous procedures had failed them.

One of Spekit’s customers, a large pharmaceutical company, put Spekit to use in May 2020, when after nearly a year of development, they made the switch from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lightning. At that time they were still in the early days of the pandemic and worried how they’d launch Lightning without in-person learning and the training tools that had been used in the past. Spekit was instrumental in allowing the company to provide remote, distributed Salesforce Lightning training to their 200+ Salesforce team members. Even today, their employees continue to use Spekit as a tool to quickly find procedural information to help boost productivity.

While some argue software training doesn’t allow for direct metrics, Spekit is able to prove ROI with some tangible efficiency and productivity results. For example, they reduced one customer’s two-person IT team from 1000+ support tickets per year to just 22 tickets per month after six months using Spekit. Other customers like Southwest reported 50% less time communicating new initiatives across 5 systems, Hobson reported 40% less support tickets, and a large services company reported 80% faster Salesforce onboarding (going from 7 hours to 1 hour of training).

In the long term, Fellay sees demand for digital adoption and enablement tools increasing. Thanks to COVID-19 and the work-from-home phenomenon, the need for tech that empowers employees where they work has only accelerated. Employees are no longer sitting in swivel chairs next to each other where they can turn around and ask someone for help. Moving forward, the Spekit team plans to build a more personalized tool that incorporates an intelligence layer of understanding the user’s history and context.

Ultimately, Fellay believes, “Companies are going to shift from thinking culture is adding ping pong tables and beer taps to focusing on cultivating culture through better employee onboarding experience and training experiences to set them up for success.”

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