Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Background: Although many decision makers have recognized the importance of training to the success of their frontline personnel and organizations, hidden technological compatibility issues can lead to training failure especially when different generations, or iterations, of hardware and software are involved. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of different levels (high vs. low) of compatibility between software and hardware on frontline trainees’ gained understanding of the related IT.

Method: Grounded in experiential learning, we designed a three-stage training experiment that involved the use of cloud-based geographical information systems and radio-frequency identification devices. The experiment included compatibility between hardware and software, a longitudinal learning simulation, and a real-world frontline scenario. 33 students enrolled in an introductory course from a major business school participated in the training, and their responses during each training stage were collected.

Results: The results revealed that compatibility is a critical factor in determining the success or failure of an IT training program. High compatibility helps frontline trainees accumulate useful IT knowledge over time, while low compatibility tends to reduce their learning outcome on the related IT over time.

Conclusions: This study is one of the few that focus on IT training issues relating to a neglected but important user group – frontline workers. Studying hardware-software compatibility of the target technology expands the understanding of factors that influence IT training outcomes. This research highlights the strategic role of well-articulated IT compatibility in frontline IT training.