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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Digital Adoption

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Digital Adoption

By Dannah Cahn

If recent years have marked a mainstreaming of the buzzword ‘user experience,’ we predict the coming years will see the rise of the phrase ‘digital adoption.’

Stay ahead of the curve. Don’t be the only one at the next networking event with nothing to input.

What exactly does digital adoption mean?

Digital adoption is defined as achieving a state in which digital tools are being used as intended, and to the fullest extent.

It is about more than just basic functions — digital adoption happens when technology becomes second nature to its user.

digital adoption definition

Consider the computer in your pocket — your smartphone. While your grandmother might only use hers to make and receive calls, for the average user it is an extension of the self.

Today, the majority of the western world has effectively adopted their smartphone, using it for everything from shopping to scheduling to self-expression.

Dive Deeper: Your Digital Transformation Will Fail Without a Digital Adoption Strategy

Why is digital adoption make-or-break for the modern organization?

If everyone seems to be onboard with smartphones, what is the big deal about technology adoption in the workplace? Isn’t it simply a matter of time?

Yes and no. As time goes on, people (specifically the younger cohort) are becoming more comfortable with technology, but they aren’t necessarily becoming better at using software. They certainly aren’t keeping pace with quick changing digital landscape.

Because there are so many digital platforms both in the workplace and the consumer space (and that number is quickly growing), finding a way to get users up to speed is critical. The digital adoption challenge will touch every business in one or both of the following ways:

types of digital adoption

Digital Adoption for Customers

Once upon a time ‘tech companies’ were a distinct category in the corporate world. Today, if you don’t have a sleek modern website and a well-oiled mobile application — you are doing it wrong.

Any business that owns a digital platform, be it a website, SaaS platform, mobile application or other, should be concerned with the digital adoption of their customers.

For example, if you are a bank — your objective is customers who are comfortable and competent meeting their banking needs on mobile, such as checking their balance or transferring funds.

Without user adoption, your customers will continue to drain bank tellers’ time and resources while the investment in R&D and development will go to waste. This result will end up costing your business dearly.

user adoption

Digital Adoption for Employees

As organizations digitize their back-end processes, employees must keep pace.

Organizations’ functionality effectively rests on employees’ ability not only to cope with but to flourish using enterprise software.

Software adoption for employees means the fully functional use of systems such as CRM, HCM, ERP, and others. These are sophisticated platforms, often highly customized to the needs of the company they serve. The opportunity for manipulation is large, and so for the user to extract value, they must have a strong grasp on features and practices. 

Champions for User Adoption in Enterprise

Many key leaders are understanding the magnitude of the adoption crisis.

Amazon and John Wiley and Sons have spoken publicly about their digital transformation efforts and the role user adoption plays in their success. Mastercard shared their journey to optimize adoption through the evolution of their software training.

Barriers to Digital Adoption for Customers

barriers to digital adoption

High competition for attention hurts user adoption

With so much noise in the digital sphere, consumers are wading through the noise every time they open a device.

Consumers wield the power. It is difficult to win their attention — much less retain them long enough for them to adopt your platform. Without digital adoption, customers will not experience the value of your product, platform or service, and will be likely to churn.

The drag of ineffective product onboarding 

The solution to the above barrier is of course, successfully onboarding your customers.

Often the onboarding process is not adequate to introduce customers to all the features they might need to use. On the flip side, onboarding that is too long and tedious can cause customers to give up on your application altogether.

Lack of support during and after the consumer adoption process

Low-quality support can pose an obstacle to the consumer adoption process.

Users with invariably come across difficulties using your application. It is critical that they feel there is someone to turn to when things get stuck.

Barriers to Digital Adoption for Employees

barriers to user adoption

Number of business platforms

Business software is evolving to become highly specialized. As the all-in-one platform becomes less prevalent, the average worker must navigate many systems to complete a simple task.

The number of platforms an employee uses on an average day is a huge barrier to technology adoption, and without the appropriate strategy, can lead to employee overwhelm, and a loss of productivity.

B2B software often has sophisticated UX

There is a dramatic difference between consumer technology and business.

Have you ever peeked at the screen while checking out at the grocery store, or purchasing movie tickets? The dated interface is a far cry from what we are used to seeing in consumer-facing applications. While the UX revolution has swept the B2C world, B2B is still lagging.

Often less polished and many times more complex, the UX of business software renders a long and tedious learning curve.

digital adoption

Poor training and onboarding 

Adoption does not occur by accident. Without an effective employee training and onboarding strategy, new product adoption process will be slow and employees will not gain functional knowledge of the tools they use on a daily basis.

One of the biggest barriers to digital adoption is the archaic training processes many enterprise companies still have in place.

Discover how WalkMe accelerates employee training and software onboarding.

Employee resistance to change

In the digital age, nothing remains static, least of all software.

It is common for companies to migrate systems or roll out a new platform — in fact, this happens so often that at any given point there is likely to be a learning curve for new software. For many employees, this may feel taxing, causing them to consciously or unconsciously avoid the effort involved in learning this new system.

The “old is better” mindset is more harmful than you think, employees’ resistance to change can exponentially slow down the new product adoption process.

The Benefits of True User Adoption

Simply put, when true technology adoption is achieved, the life of the user is improved.

technology adoption

This result is significant. If we are speaking about consumer adoption — this will manifest in personal benefits for the user. Raising the customer experience will have implications for perceived value, brand loyalty and likelihood to spend.

Employee adoption also has a huge ripple effect. The user will enjoy smoother task completion and less frustration while the organization will see improved productivity and positive ROI.

WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP)transforms the user experience in today’s overwhelming digital world. Using artificial intelligence, engagement, guidance, and automation, WalkMe’s transparent overlay assists users to complete tasks easily within any enterprise software, mobile application or website. Discover how a DAP can revolutionize your business.


Dannah Cahn
Dannah is a writer, creator and hot sauce enthusiast. Educated in communications, today she is the puppetmaster behind WalkMe’s content marketing strategy. From kale tacos to B2B content, Dannah’s creations share a signature spice.