Complementary Investments in IT, Recruiting, and TrainingWhat Andrew McAfee (Harvard Business School) and Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT Sloan School of Management) have to say about the changing relationship between IT and competition in their article in the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review does not particularly focus on training, but it nonetheless has a couple of nuggets worth noting.
Not that these observations are surprising. Rather, their embedding in a larger context of how to manage in a world of accelerated competitive pressure indicates how training, done right and at an adequate level of investment, makes a significant difference in a company's competitive strength.
First point: Advances in digital technology obviate the need for certain types of training. For example, if a revised process (e.g., for filling a prescription at a pharmacy) can be hardwired into an enterprise software system, employees will follow the process automatically. They won't have to have it explained in pep talk fashion in a training session, in hopes that they'll do as they're told rather than reverting to the old process because that's what they're used to.
Second point: Having made a concerted effort to identify and hire top talent, organizations successfully using IT to bolster their competitive position "invested substantially more time and money on both internal and external training and education." These companies also tend to use Web 2.0 tools (e.g., blogs and wikis) to facilitate sharing of ideas and expertise. The aim is to maximize the return on the investment in talent.
It almost goes without saying that effective efforts by managers to develop employees and cultivate productive networking are crucial to making the most of competitive opportunities opened up by well-planned IT investments.