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ATD Blog

Having a Seat at the Technology Table

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What happens when the learning and development team is the last to know? For example, when your team has the bi-week mapped out for mandatory compliance training and you’re suddenly asked to train on a new software process? Or you’re aware of change burnout among employees, but you hear about a new technology that a business team wants to bring in for “greater productivity.”

Odds are, you’re going to have to push back on the new software process and employees aren’t going to be more productive.

For greater efficiency and effectiveness in the organization, the L&D team should be an early part of the technology implementation process. In “Preparing Your Organization for New Technologies,” Debbie Richards explains how and from whom you can learn what technologies are being planned and how to help improve the organizational benefits.

First Step, Research

Technology integration into an organization won’t happen by itself. L&D can help others understand whether the anticipated tool will address the business challenge, whether it’ll help employees work more efficiently, and the obstacles that may hinder its adoption. “Your research efforts will enable you to anticipate potential risks or threats around the new technological solutions, such as opposition to the change or other large organizational initiatives that could take resources away from the project,” writes Richards.

You should be looking at the current technology the company is using and the organizational strategy around technology. For example, does the organization seek to help its employees better serve their customers with upgraded technology? Will employees be amenable to using the technology? If it’s something that customers will also need to use, will they be amenable? If the new technology must mesh with what the organization currently uses, will it?

Questions such as these can save the organization significant resources, both financial and employee time. But where do you find the answers?

The IT team is one logical source. They’ll be able to share insights into the tools and processes currently being used. Frontline employees can provide a practical snapshot of their workday and work environment, shedding light on whether they have the bandwidth and either have the skills or are willing to learn them. Meanwhile, leaders can guide you on major initiatives the organization is undertaking, answering the question, “Is now the right time for new technology?”


After initial research, seek to determine the “why” behind the technology upgrade or change. Will the planned technology address the issue at hand? A shiny new object won’t solve a motivation challenge.

Moving Forward

With new technology selected, it’s time to plan the project. What are reasonable timelines and metrics for implementation?

In addition to consulting IT and senior leaders, include HR or talent development (depending on how your organization is structured) to help on the people side of implementation. Also, consider what other teams will be affected and what needs to be known about the project, such as legal, operations, purchasing, and safety.

As you implement the project, plan for pilot testing, whether you’ll conduct a soft launch or large-scale implementation, and how you’ll communicate the change. You’ll want supportive senior leaders as well as early adopters who can extol how the technology will improve work.


L&D Function’s Use of Tech

Apart from L&D’s role in technology at the enterprise level, an L&D team should consider its own use of new tools and their accompanying processes.

Do you want to incorporate augmented reality into your training and development, for example? Do you want to tap artificial intelligence to assist in curating development resources or as part of new hire orientation? Consider how you want the L&D function to be seen and how it can serve as a role model for more effective working methods.

Changing World of Opportunities

Whether it’s the development opportunities your own team is providing or you’re acting as part of the organization-wide technology implementation, Richards writes: “We are facilitators of introducing innovative technology solutions into businesses today. Our guidance paves the way toward seamless implementation, embedding a culture seeking continued growth opportunities across all levels.”

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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