Announcing: RockTechFree & the Tip Exchange

Pposted by | RockTechFree, Tip Exchange | No Comments

Here at RockTech, we think you should be able to give (and get) on-screen guidance for any piece of software you use, while you use it. Easily. And for free.

That’s why we’ve invested in making that lofty vision a reality with RockTechFree. At a cost of zero dollars, you can create what we call public tips. Public tips are rapidly buildable and shareable pieces of on-screen guidance. Here’s an example of a public tip. You can also try RockTech with any website right now.

Public tips let you share your thought leadership to anyone on any applications you want (we’re partial to the cloud, but you can even use RockTech for local applications, like this one on Windows 10).

But that’s not all! Once you create public tips, you can submit them to the Tip Exchange so other people can find your tips and see how much of a smarty pants you really are.

Publish to tip exchange

For more information on how RockTech works, read on. We’d also really love to hear your feedback. Feel free to comment, leave feedback in the product, or email us at

Wait… What’s RockTech again?

RockTech lets you put guidance on the same screen as any web product, making it easy to simply create, maintain, and manage guidance for many people. RockTech then allows people to ask questions or give feedback and measures them on their performance.

Ok cool… but how does it work?

To use RockTech, you just have to open two windows. The process looks something like this:

Step 1:
Step 2:
Remember that, for now, we deliver RockTech on laptops and desktops using Chrome, FireFox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. If you have multiple monitors, be sure to use RockTech on your primary screen.

Got it. So who should use it?

Our technology can be useful for everyone. But it is especially useful for people who want to share their knowledge on web-based products, for example: technology trainers, sales operations managers, bloggers, or really just anyone who has knowledge to share. We hope to be the answer to these folks’ PowerPoint-, webinar- and help library-driven nightmares.

Computer and iPhone

Mo technology, mo problems?

Pposted by | Technology Adoption | No Comments

Findings from the latest CompTIA technology adoption study

In April, CompTIA IT Industry Association released a workforce trends study on technology adoption. This was exciting for us, because we arehuge nerds extremely interested in technology adoption. Given our recent post on the state of the space, we thought it would be interesting to discuss the results from this 73-slide, 12-nation study (don’t worry, we pulled out just three important findings for you).

Finding 1: Technology alone cannot accomplish a company’s strategic goals.

Perhaps somewhat obviously, the study points out that technology’s importance is on the rise. All kinds of organizations increasingly rate IT a critically important factor to their success (68% say technology is important or very important to business success). It also points out, however, that technology is a means and not an end: “Organizations must also address the people and process elements of the equation to achieve optimal results.” Contrary to a hopeful CIO’s belief that the purchase of a new technology will automatically solve all of his or her team’s problems, there is much more that goes into connecting the technology to the people, the processes, and eventually the strategic goals.

Source: CompTIA 2015 International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study

Source: CompTIA 2015 International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study

Finding 2: There is a large gap in the level of training employers believe their staff should reach and where staff actually stands.

It’s difficult for most companies to keep up with today’s pace of innovation. Major product releases are no longer just once every few years, but annually or even more frequently (Salesforce has three major releases every year). Technology is more accessible than ever, which has led to the need for companies to incessantly attempt to close the knowledge gap. In the US, only 15% of businesses report being exactly where they want to be with technology utilization, and only 41% consider themselves “very close.” Two of the major cloud adoption hurdles are “gaps in staff expertise with cloud solutions” and “insufficient or unclear return on ROI.” Given the explosion in SaaS spending (the global SaaS market is projected to grow from $49B in 2015 to $67B in 2018), these gaps could potentially continue to grow without the proper processes and training methods in place.

Source: CompTIA 2015 International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study

Source: CompTIA 2015 International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study

Finding 3: Companies train staff in various ways, but few have tangible ways of measuring that training.

Most organizations provide some degree of training for their IT staff. Almost half report using e-learning or online training courses as well as instructor-led classroom courses. The percentages begin to sink when you talk about assessing that training. Approximately 4 in 10 organizations claim to have a formal policy or an established method for validating expertise, while 37% report having an informal policy, which means that managers can hand out IT “certifications” at their own discretion. With the exponential growth in technology availability and usage, measuring each technology’s adoption rates will be crucial to companies’ ROIs.

So, what now?

It’s not news that technology use and development is on the rise. But with that use and development also comes complexity. And with that complexity comes issues with adoption. Organizations need to think not only about having the newest technologies, but about the implementation and adoption processes that will keep their teams up to speed.

The CompTIA study focuses on IT programs and training at large, but we’ve also seen (firsthand) similar trends in SaaS adoption. There are many reasons for poor SaaS adoption. Here are just a few of the common ones we’ve heard directly from employees tasked with learning a new SaaS platform:

  • “It takes too long to learn, so it will take me away from my primary job.”
  • “This technology only benefits management so they can ‘keep an eye on us.’”
  • “There’s bad data clogging the system.”
  • “I didn’t even know about it.”
  • “The last technology we tried to implement failed, so learning it was a waste of time.”
  • “Management doesn’t use it, so why should I?”

We’ve stayed very close to these trends as they have developed and evolved over the past five years. We’ve also seen some pretty interesting solutions begin to pop up. As the CompTIA study indicates, the technology adoption pain is real. Our goal is to be part of the solution. Stay tuned for some exciting updates in 2016.

You can request a free trial of RockTech here, subscribe to our email marketing list here, or connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter.

Helicopter experience at Dreamforce 2014

Combining what exists into what has never existed before: The story of VetForce, 14 months in

Pposted by | Veterans | No Comments

Sometimes, two issues can be resolved simply by someone realizing that they should be put together. It becomes even more interesting when those two issues are seemingly unrelated.

You might have seen the moving Speaking Exchange ad campaign in the spring of 2014 by FCB Global. Young Brazilian students learning English were connected, via video chat, with lonely Americans living in nursing homes. The result? New friends for the elderly and improved fluency for the students. Two seemingly unrelated problems, one ingenious solution. A similar project connected Dutch students with nursing homes in the Netherlands.

The idea behind these why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-earlier solutions can be eloquently summarized by something Gloria Steinem once said: “Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before.”

We ran into one of these perfect match situations just over a year ago, and it led to the launch of one of our most important initiatives yet. Together with the leadership at Salesforce, we identified two major problems facing the tech industry and our military veterans.

Malik Gray: Veteran success story

Malik Gray: Veteran success story

Problem one: As Salesforce rapidly acquires customers and enhances its already robust functionality, a need for individuals with a strong understanding of the platform has quickly developed. However, within the current pool of available job candidates, companies are citing a lack of Salesforce-certified administrators. As a result, this position is in high demand.

Problem two: The high veteran unemployment rate. RockTech’s CEO Dave Gowel, a former tank commander in the U.S. army, is one of many to point out this issue. He often speaks to groups discussing how many veterans returning from active duty struggle to assimilate into civilian life. Some may be injured physically, some may not know how to translate their military skills into job requirements, and some simply lack the technical skills required to obtain a career.

We started to piece together these two issues and with the leadership of some great professionals at Salesforce (some, military vets themselves), VetForce was born. VetForce is designed to get 10,000 military veterans and their family members trained, certified as Salesforce admins, and placed in jobs. Everyone is pitching in: Salesforce provides the resources needed to develop a community for the program and provides the training courses and exam vouchers for free to all veterans. RockTech provides free licenses to our software, which helps users learn the material needed to prepare and participate in the training course and ultimately pass the certification exam. Veteran service organizations (VSOs) help source the veterans, training partners like Accenture and Bluewolf provide instructors to lead the courses, and companies like GE and Uber sign on to hire veterans who have been through the program.

Dan Streetman, Craig Newmark, and Dave Gowel at DreamLift 2014

Dan Streetman, Craig Newmark, and Dave Gowel at DreamLift 2014

We formally launched the program at Dreamforce 2014 with several sessions and panels, a success lounge for veterans to network, and what’s now referred to as DreamLift – a helicopter experience for 50 senior tech execs in the bay area designed to demonstrate the availability and technical expertise of returning veterans.

We now have over 1500 veterans who are currently in the VetForce program. At Dreamforce 2015, VetForce was recognized by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff during his keynote address to an audience of thousands. The program has been highlighted by the VA, VentureBeat, and Fox Business.

If you are (or know) a veteran, employer, or VSO who could benefit from this incredible resource, you can find everything you need to get started at


The shifting state of cloud training and adoption

Pposted by | Technology Adoption | No Comments

In the past few months, the cloud training space has caught many people’s attention. Several big names in technology have made major announcements about products and initiatives that will shape the trajectory of cloud training moving forward.

At this year’s Dreamforce, Salesforce heavily promoted its new learning platform Trailhead. According to Salesforce, “Trailhead is an interactive learning path through the basic building blocks of the Salesforce1 Platform.” Users can pick a “trail” to follow and work through interactive, gamified modules on standard training content provided by Salesforce.

Larry Ellison at Oracle Open World. Credit: Oracle

Larry Ellison at Oracle Open World. Credit: Oracle

At Oracle Open World in October, Larry Ellison used his keynote speech to share his excitement for a “cool new learning system” that is now a part of the Oracle Cloud. For the first time ever, Ellison did a product demo during his keynote, highlighting a new just-in-time learning product. Oracle Learning teaches Oracle employees and customers about Oracle products via videos and tutorials as users are in the application.

In September of this year, Workday announced Workday Learning, which promises “a collaborative community to gain and share knowledge, content with context, support for diverse learning experiences, and built-in measurement and insights.” Due out in the second half of 2016, Workday cites lackluster, outdated traditional learning management systems (LMS) as one of the reasons today’s workforce needs contextual training tools like Workday Learning.

So what does this mean for you?

If your company uses cloud technologies including the ones mentioned above, it’s likely that you’ll be seeing more of these new learning platforms try to get your attention as you’re trying to do your job in them.

What does this mean for the cloud?

The recent surge of cloud providers building these training products into their roadmaps indicates the acceptance of a growing problem: cloud platforms are just too robust, customizable, and frequently updated for users to harness their full potential. It’s no longer realistic to expect end-users of enterprise cloud products to build and maintain expertise like we all do in consumer websites, which have more consistent and simple workflows across huge numbers of users (think Amazon and Google). This surge in new products is likely the result of a few different aspects of the average worker’s daily life:

  • Software is changing faster than ever. Cloud-based software is subject to frequent updates and changing
    Salesforce's Winter '16 icon. Credit: Salesforce

    Salesforce’s Winter ’16 icon. Credit: Salesforce

    configurations. Salesforce alone launches three major releases every year. And if it’s not the software that’s changing, it’s likely the business process. Having an inline training system makes it easier to keep up with constant change.

  • Teams are expected to use many different tools to do their jobs. According to McKinsey, the average worker spends 28% of the workweek managing e-mail alone and almost 20% looking for information or “tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.” Companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and Workday are likely trying to help their customers cut down on any of this wasted time that’s related to users trying to figure out their applications.
  • People are realizing that it’s inefficient to train people on cloud products outside of the cloud. Users are growing weary of traditional training methods that are not on-demand, in-context, and role-based. Stopping their jobs to attend a training class or searching through shared folders for guidance makes employees far less efficient than they should be. There’s also a huge deficit of data that’s not collected from traditional training methods. Did a user take the specific actions prescribed for their role? Did that impact their performance in the way it was intended? Did they even go to the page in the application where they were supposed to complete the task? Cloud-based training products should enable leadership to collect meaningful data while training their teams.

Three years from now, we’ll all be looking back at how crazy we were to rely on people to train people to use the cloud. By then, we’ll all be harnessing some form of cloud application that will do the heavy lifting for us.

You can request a free trial of RockTech here, subscribe to our email marketing list here, or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.