NEWS AND RESOURCES

What's New in Technology for September 2001

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Where in the WWW????
In case you haven’t noticed, several of our articles this month are devoted to training – training yourself and your employees. We hope we made our case for training in the General Business Article. We also recognize that we left a huge gap in our general business discussion – where are you going to get the training and at what cost?

This article is going to show you how and where to find resources for training for yourself and your employees, and it will revolve around – yes, you guessed it – the Internet. The Internet is fast permeating every other area of life. Why not let it help us find some practical help? Since we’re here to help you help yourself in the technology arena, we aren’t going to recommend any one site over another. We’ll give you a few sites that link to other sites, but we’ll primarily focus on helping you develop a methodology of your own to find what you need.

Of course, the first step in your search will be hooking up with the right search engine. There are a number of good search engines and you should use the one(s) you’re comfortable with. Some of the larger search engines are Google.com, Yahoo.com, Go.com, AltaVista.com, MSN.com, Excite.com and Northernlight.com. These are by no means the only ones and if you have a favorite, by all means use it. Once you’ve selected a search engine, you’re about to enter the realm of the frustration. That’s because you’ll probably enter the term “training” in your search and come up with millions of “hits” or possibilities.

For example, we typed in the word “training” into three search engines. We received anywhere from 1.3 million to 25.7 million results. By changing our search to ask for both “management” and “training,” our results dropped to between 86,200 listings and 4.7 million listings. While still too many, this at least shows that using the right search terms will have a dramatic effect on your results.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you’ll most likely come into contact with the type of trainer you want within the first few pages of a search. Don’t think you’ll find the training course or professional you need in an Internet search? Think again. Here is a small sampling of the categories one of our searches yielded:

Training for runners and other athletes
Art education training
Water Rescue training
Computer training
Performance measurement
Sales, customer service, communication, productivity and other business training
Training on how to use the Internet


The list literally goes on and on … So now you have this huge list to use in finding training resources for your employees - what are you going to do with it? May we suggest your next step be to contact the proposed trainers and ask them a few pertinent questions? The first two of these will be, “What are your references” and “How do you conduct your training?” The third should be, “How much is this going to cost?” The first two questions, of course, are the most critical.

How a trainer conducts training will be an important consideration. These days, you have the choice of in-house training, web-based training, computer-based training, self-study and outside training (in-town and out-of-town). Each has its strengths and you need to be careful what you ask the trainer, because they don’t always know. Even if they do know, their definitions may differ from yours.

For example, what does computer-based training mean to you? Does it mean you’ll receive an interactive CD that you can get answers from quickly? It may mean a CD that has a great deal of text to read. Is web-based training going to work for you if all you have is a 56K modem? It may, if you’re using a program that lets the trainers move pictures around on your monitor while talking to you over the telephone.

Some types of training lend themselves to more hands-on and interactive training. In general, if you’re trying to teach your sales force about a new product, long-distance learning or computer-based learning will suffice. But if you’re trying to teach a class of rookie salesmen how to close a deal and/or you're trying to boost morale, a computer screen will not work. You’ll have to do this face to face with your training guru. Regardless which training method you choose, you’ll probably find what you need in your Internet resources.

One other type of training not mentioned yet is teleconferencing. In this instance, a group of "experts" comes together in a studio and their discussion is broadcast to two or more locations. Audience interaction is accomplished by verbal or written questions. The obvious advantage to this type of training is it reduces costs. However, it can be frustrating to the participants if the equipment malfunctions.

Assuming you like the proposed trainer, get references. Any reputable training firm will be glad to provide a list of happy customers. If they do not, mark them off you list right awayt. Either they have happy customers and didn't have the foresight to ask for permission to use them as references, or they don't have happy customers. In either event, you can probably find someone else who’ll do a better job. Some trainers may even have lists of references on their web sites.

Some might argue the most important consideration in training employees is cost. That’s true if you define cost as “the least amount of capital it takes to make a truly productive employee.” If your definition is “the maximum amount of money I’ll spend to keep the boss happy or make me feel like I accomplished something even though Joe learned nothing,” don’t even bother. The adage that you get what you pay for generally rings true here.

While the question of cost is an important one, make sure you couple it with, “what does my business get out of this exorbitant cost?” If the trainer or training company doesn’t flinch and proves to you they truly have a good value proposition, you have a winner. Take them at their word and give them a shot. You may wish to start small at first, but give them a shot anyway. The right corporate trainer or facilitator can provide far more long-term value to your company than you can ever pay them.

Finally, make sure you support the trainer in every way possible. We're really not talking about supporting the trainer in the class. Instead, we’re talking about supporting the trainer after the training is done. If your trainer has done their job, your employees will likely come back with new ideas to implement. Hear them out and take a good look at all suggestions. That's what you paid for.

We said we’d give you a few training "supersites." Each of these sites (listed below) has links to yet other sites. Now, we haven't fully investigated each site, or their links, so we don't make any recommendations one way or another. These sites, however, should serve as a good starting point in your search.

Training Supersite

Technology Based Training Supersite

Web Based and Distance Education

As we said, there are numerous sites you can visit to begin your search. You can choose one of the above for a quick start or start from scratch. Either way, you should be able to find what you need on the Internet. If all this proves too frustrating, use the most tried and true, the most ancient and arcane of all search technologies - ask a friend.

Training in a business enterprise is, at best a difficult proposition. Finding the right training for your employees need not be the most difficult part of this process. With the Internet resources available today, there are numerous alternatives to just about any training for which you have a need. The important thing is to get a training program in place. We can help. If you’re having a hard time focusing on today's production needs, finding time for a new task can be next to impossible. We have the manpower and people available to assist you. Give us a call today to help insure your tomorrow.

Have a great September!

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