How Not to Demonstrate New Technology

Mark shares an example of how not to demonstrate new technology to people who have not seen it before:

The vendor had created a SharePoint site, and on it were more than 10 web parts. In two columns. Each showing objects from the Document Management System in various forms (one web part showed an inbox showing workflow tasks, another was a single-box search web part, one had an extended search facility showing, one was for browsing a tree structure of folders, others had specific queries behind them.

The vendor carried on talking about what a web part is, and what each web part did, and, the eyes of the users started glazing over. It was too much for them. This was new technology, and a new way of working. What the vendor showed was too much at the same time. The users were confused. And you could tell by the body language that the users were against what the vendor was telling them.

During the presentation, the vendor would be describing a specific web part and the functionality that it provided.

Several of the more entrenched users (those who had been doing their job since day one, and were damned good at it) would make comments like “This is not how we do it.”, or “We do things differently here.”

Post-presentation (after the client’s people had left), Mark discussed the presentation with the vendor, and they agreed on three points:

(1) The vendor hadn’t realized that the technology was so confusing. He works with it every day, and, for him, it was second nature. He had not looked at it from the perspective of his audience.

(2) Too much was presented at the same time. The vendor should have chosen three web parts that provide the base functionality that matched what the users do on a daily basis. Then, once that had been explained, the other web parts could have been introduced.

(3) There was no “education” done first. The vendor could have started with a explanation of what the new technology was and how SharePoint and web parts worked.

Ouch.

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