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The COVID-19 pandemic pushed a flurry of digital transformation initiatives across several industries as consumers moved en masse to embrace online shopping and digital services. According to a report from McKinsey, 85% of businesses accelerated their digital transformation projects, but the real concern lies in digital adoption.
Digital adoption is made up of all the digital tools being used to their fullest extent within organizations. The approach goes way beyond acquiring the right platforms and encompasses a general cultural shift to becoming a digital organization.
Gartner's report, "Improve Employee Usage, Engagement and Productivity with Digital Adoption Solutions," emphasizes the role that smart digital adoption can play in driving business growth.
Without successful digital adoption, companies are at risk of their employees becoming overwhelmed by the slew of digital tools and platforms they're expected to manage, creating friction between employees and managers, difficulty with onboarding new hires and confusion over which tool to use and when. As a result, organizations could see employee productivity and engagement stagger.
Digital adoption platforms gain recognition
As companies realize the crucial role of digital adoption, they're turning to digital adoption platforms (DAPs). A DAP is essentially a software product designed to simplify the user onboarding experience and painlessly train them to master new tech tools. It's often in the form of a software layer that rests over the existing application, delivering timely popups and interactive wizards that walk new users through all the features of the platform in question.
DAPs can give real-time, step-by-step guidance to help users complete and understand different tasks and applications.
Demand for DAPs is rising as companies look for ways to consolidate and move ahead with their recent digital transformation projects. Many were in a race to add more digital tools to their arsenal in order to support remote workers and consumer demand for digital services -- however, it's proving difficult to use traditional training and troubleshooting methods for employees who are working from home.
Against this background, Gartner predicts that 70% of organizations will use digital adoption solutions (DASes) to overcome insufficient application user experiences by 2021.
Digital adoption drives resilience
The pandemic added impetus to the business case for increasing resilience through digitization. A recent report by WalkMe found that 77% of CIOs named digital transformation as their biggest budget priority of 2021 and 51% of CIOs are most concerned with making their company more resilient -- their current top priority is to add automation to future proof it.
As with so many issues, COVID-19 essentially sped up the progression of existing trends. Rising digital transformation already altered the CIO role to give them more responsibility for driving business growth, reflecting the extent to which digital tools entered the business playbook.
Digital adoption requires integrating digital tools into every layer of the organization, rather than adding them as an afterthought.
WalkMe's findings confirmed that CIOs today spend less time on traditional tasks, such as optimizing IT performance, and more on strategy development, customer-facing initiatives and generating revenue, which shows the acceptance of digital adoption.
When a business becomes entirely digital, there isn't a separate "IT department" -- on the contrary, IT is woven into every corner of the business. Therefore, CIOs can't be siloed into their own section but instead need to be involved in decisions and strategy across the organization. That's matched by the fact that 70% of WalkMe respondents expect to have more influence in leading innovation and growth within their company.
Digital initiatives will drive post-COVID growth
Digital adoption is crucial to help companies remain financially stable as well as to drive revenue and profits. According to Gartner, 84% of CEOs expect digital initiatives to increase profit margins.
Customer experience continues to be the primary business focus for driving revenue but now it is being delivered largely through new digital services and initiatives.
Without digital adoption, there's a real risk that the new digital services will drive customers away instead of attracting and retaining them. Many consumers are unfamiliar with digital processes, payments and portals and are struggling to master them. Patience and goodwill are already in short supply thanks to the stresses of the pandemic; therefore, no one is willing to invest extra effort in working out how to use a confusing digital tool.
Digital adoption helps smoothly onboard customers to new digital platforms, replacing friction and frustration with delight.
It's time to prove ROI on digital spend
Despite the drop in revenue during the pandemic, some IT budgets increased in order to fund new digital tools for remote work and digital platforms for customer interactions and product and service delivery. A study by KPMG and Harvey Nash found that IT spending rose by an average of $15 billion per week for global IT leaders during the first three months of the crisis.
Cash-strapped and nervous about the pace of recovery, business leaders now want to see a positive ROI that justifies their recent digital spend. Digital adoption is the right way to achieve it.
As the Gartner report points out, employees were recently flooded with unknown apps and platforms, largely while they're working from home without a support team on hand to help them troubleshoot issues. Without training or guidance, frustrated workers are liable to give up on the new tech and stick to tried and trusted workflows, which are less efficient and more time-consuming, thereby wasting the money invested in advanced tools.
Digital adoption gently coaches them to fully master their new tech stack while also tracking KPI metrics to see who needs extra support or training, thus helping boost ROI and improve uptake.
About the author
Asim Rahal is an IT consultant specializing in cloud security, data protection and cyber risk awareness.