Nothing is worse than investing in the "latest and greatest," getting home and not knowing how to use but two or three main features. We've all been there, and usually we end up sidestepping, poking around online to educate ourselves or asking a friend for a quick tutorial. But it never really sinks in. We end up owning incredibly powerful technology that we're not empowered to use.

The same goes for large organizations. You take the plunge and invest in new technology, but can you guarantee a maximum return? Will employees actually use the technology you've invested so much in?

The key is lowering the barrier to technology adoption.

When working with customers, usually I find that stakeholders don't know what features of a tool employees are taking advantage of, or worse, they don't even know all the tools that exist in their environments.

When a company does invest in a new technology, it's key that they take a comprehensive approach to training employees. I've found that a 60-90 day adoption services program makes the biggest impact. Usually it includes a workshop, surveys, customer documentation, on-demand videos, live and virtual training, hands-on sessions and reporting.

Condensed versions of this program have also proven to be very successful, but the timing is critical. If too much time elapses and employees are using the new technology — say Webex, TelePresence or Jabber — there's a strong likelihood that they'll give up on the technology due to frustration over how to use it. The best-case scenario is one in which they get semi-comfortable with a tool. They may use toolsets to set up meetings or chat colleagues, but still, they rarely have any idea about all the cool built-in features that can save time and enhance productivity.

There's also another scenario, and it involves your IT service desk. Chances are they're continually getting hit up to walk folks through new tools. Now imagine if even half of the employees using a collaboration tool knew shortcuts and were savvy enough to troubleshoot a variety of toolsets on their own. Imagine how many service desk hours could be saved and what your IT resources can be doing with that time back.

To really make sure that employees are getting the most out of your technology investments, you want to arm them with a variety of training materials early. Remember, everyone learns differently, so it's important to account for different learning styles. Some are going to respond better to on-demand videos, while others are going to want printed, step-by-step instructions on their desks within arms reach.

Another tip: Don't forget to survey! As you begin to implement training, ask for feedback on what's working for your employees and ask often. Surveys and regular email correspondence are great ways to start a process and culture of continual improvement.

What you'll begin to see is that when individuals become more confident with new technology, your organization runs more efficiently overall and investments warrant a higher rate of return. Ultimately, the next big system overhaul becomes an exciting milestone instead of a looming headache. Believe it or not, it actually is possible to get the latest technology and the greatest results.