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One of the challenges I hear people in technology have is keeping up with the evolution of product offerings. It seems almost daily we're hearing about a new feature or function that will bring added efficiency or functionality. There is no question that this is a valid challenge, but there are tips on how to keep up (or at least try!)

Why Is Keeping Up With Evolving Tech Important?

First, let's talk about why keeping up with business technology innovations is important.

Generally speaking, when new features are rolled out, they are improvements of what was in place before (I know, I know, not always, hence, my use of the term 'generally speaking'). The bottom line is that keeping up to date with what's changing does a few key things:

  • Helps us think about what we need to focus on in the future.
  • Keeps us aware of what changes might impact our customers or organizations.
  • Enables us to provide or use the most effective tools to support our customers or organizations.

So, what can you do to stay on top of the constantly evolving technological landscape?

How to Stay Up to Date on Business Tools

1. Give Yourself Time to Learn

Nick Doelman, MVP and D365/Power Platform guru touched on this recently during a Microsoft Certification exam study group call and it really stuck with me: schedule yourself regular time to learn.

Schedule yourself a 45-minute standing slot on your calendar each week where your only purpose is to read blogs, watch videos, and read release documents (the Dynamics 365: 2020 Release Wave 2 Plan or the Power Platform Weekly newsletter are great places to start).

Be diligent about your learning time. It's easy to book over it with other meetings and calls, but if you are really serious about learning and deepening your industry knowledge, do everything you can to keep this time in your calendar and use it for its intended purpose. Think of it as a mandatory meeting with yourself each week. 

Now, let's talk about what you'll be learning during that time.

2. Identify What YOU Want to Learn

Information is being shared online at a rapid rate about any number of things. Spend some time thinking about what you want to learn before getting sucked into the void of clickbait content. Then, push yourself to embrace other things that might logically connect to your initial focus.

For example, maybe you're interested in learning more about the Sales Insights tool. Great choice! Lots of cool stuff in there to soak in. Now, branch out a bit. What about looking into the Customer Insights or MyAnalytics feature?

As you start to expand the circle of content you're learning, you'll likely uncover more items you want to learn. Keep track of these in a learning journal. A what? (Keep reading).

3. Organize Your Content for Success

A 'Learning Journal' helps organize your selected content online or on paper where you can add notes for yourself, ask questions, or just write stuff down.

(For many, the act of writing something down on paper helps with knowledge retention!)

You can go old school with a pen and notebook, keep it in a OneNote folder, or another format that works best for you. The point is: maintain a spot where you keep track of the things you are learning for reference later.

BONUS: Curate Content Ahead of Time

There's no shortage of shareable content out there, so it's easy to bounce around from topic to topic. This may work for some, but others (myself included), can find this overwhelming and much too sporadic. Instead, take the topics you identify throughout the week and start to curate content to watch or learn more about during your 'Learning Time' each week.

The key here is not to watch the content during the curation phase. Instead, spend one of your learning sessions focusing on creating your line-up of content into the right topic areas. You're essentially building out your playlist of learning material. You'll be shocked at how easy this is to do.

Simply type a query on your search engine of choice and start to grab all of the resources you can find: blogs, videos, podcasts, articles (all of it), and paste the links into your Learning Journal or content hub. Within one of these 'research' sessions, you could easily generate a playlist of numerous resources about various topics that will last you weeks.

Prioritize Professional Development and Learning at Work

Remember, we're all different, so content is going to appeal to everyone in different ways.

As you come across someone who produces content that resonates with you, subscribe to them (trust me, it means a lot to someone who is putting forth the effort to create content!) Plus, you can usually opt-in or out of notifications and filter the categories you want to know about the next time they produce relevant content.

While the idea is simple, keeping up to date with the evolution of the platform(s) you work in is quite challenging! It takes time and effort, but we believe these tips help bring some order to the task to help you capitalize on the wealth of information available to all of us.

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