The Digital Adoption Gap
How executives can ditch the “shopaholic” mentality and realize the full potential of their digital investments, explains Stojan B. Zrnić of WalkMe.
Most of us probably know at least one person who we would describe as a “shopaholic.” A shopaholic is convinced time and time again that the latest cool gadget or piece of clothing will finally make him a happy person. But when the goods are then paid for and at home, they are often not even unpacked and end up as dust catchers in a corner.
Applied to the corporate world, you could say that some executives behave downright like technology shopaholics: They move from one project to the next without first ensuring that what they’ve started will be successful. Of course, that’s not how it should be: Just as children need to learn to budget their pocket money, these executives need to learn to be patient and budget their money, only to be rewarded later.
The digital adoption gap
It is important to bear in mind that the fundamental reason for the rampant buying behavior of some executives is that budgets are currently being allocated for digital transformation and companies are continuing to push the issue of digitization.
Regardless of the industry, companies are aiming for broadly similar outcomes from these investments: Increased revenue, increased operating margins, improved customer and employee experience and resulting business perception, and reduced risk. Some companies have invested in hundreds of different applications to achieve these goals – but in fact they often use only a fraction of the software and functionality they spent money on.
So there’s a “digital adoption gap” here – the gap between what they’ve spent and the results they’ve achieved as a result. If this gap were closed, companies could leverage potential from their investments that is currently lying fallow due to a lack of user adoption. The question is: What can companies do to close the gap?
The three P
Needless to say, the digital adoption gap does not look the same in every company – every scenario is different. Nevertheless, any company looking to close this gap should consider three important factors, which can be summarized as the “three Ps”: Platform, People, Persistence.
The first of these factors is a digital adoption solution (DAS). DAS is a solution category that has recently been described by analyst firms such as Gartner as providing technologies that drive digital adoption. In its most common variant, the digital adoption platform (DAP), such solutions form a layer above a digital product that provides tailored user experience and data transparency. This improves technology adoption – and ultimately the bottom line.
From an employee perspective, DAPs can solve numerous problems that many of us face in the workplace. Here, a single interface frees employees from the hassle of having to master the user interfaces of hundreds of different applications. In addition, DAPs are customizable, eliminating the need for employees to undergo hours of training that may not be relevant to their jobs. But while platforms of this type are becoming gamechangers, they can’t work their magic in a vacuum.
The second factor is DAP experts. In short, these are professionals whose job it is to use a digital adoption platform to drive and oversee their company’s digital strategy. In particular, DAP experts make sure that employees can make the most of the digital technologies in which the company has invested. They also measure how quickly the company’s adoption of new technologies is progressing and how much success is being achieved.
In line with the growing use of DAPs, companies are increasingly deploying DAP experts. Although the role is still relatively new, it is already becoming increasingly formalized, and the first DAP-specific professional qualifications are gaining popularity.
The final ingredient for success is persistence: the ability to finish things before starting something new. It would be a costly mistake to neglect digital transformation before it delivers the promised benefits, but unfortunately this mistake is made all too often.
Companies must not view digital transformation as a one-time investment that will then solve all their problems in one fell swoop. CIOs and other executives must be willing to think long-term and realize that the digital enterprise is an ongoing project. This is exactly why DAPs and DAP experts are coming into focus – and why they will become even more important to enterprises in the months and years ahead. When companies foster digital adoption, they can get maximum value from their investments. At the same time, this reduces the need to spend even more money on the “next big thing” any time soon.
Leading by example
If a company’s digital transformation is not delivering, it is highly likely that the technologies in which the company has invested are not being properly leveraged. Putting these investments to the test may not seem like an obvious priority, but in fact it is an imperative first step that cannot be skipped. It can determine whether the company will demonstrate patience and ultimately achieve great success, or constantly spend money on new toys like a typical shopaholic. Instead of letting the new technologies gather dust, companies must ensure that they can be used to their full potential.
Stojan B. Zrnić