Digital Transformation and Digital Adoption

What is Digital Adoption?

What is Digital Adoption?

When you are preparing your company for some structural changes, you’ll start to notice a key phrase that keeps cropping up:

“Digital adoption.”

In general, it refers to the different software applications you can use to increase employee performance and efficiency, but still, that doesn’t help you understand what it is, and what you need to do.

What is digital adoption?

What is Digital Adoption?

Digital adoption is the process through which an individual acquires the ability to fully master new technology and successfully carry out digital processes for specific purposes.

It’s a change and learning mechanism that allows individuals to:

  1. Understand the potential of digital resources.
  2. Accept and utilize such resources to achieve their goals.
  3. Leverage each technology to the fullest to drive innovation and optimize processes. 

To achieve true digital adoption, people need to understand both the functionality and benefits, be fully onboarded on the most advanced features of software applications, and understand the role of digital processes and the reasons behind the change. 

What is the difference between Digital Adoption and Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is when you start to implement new technology across your organization. Digital adoption, however, refers to the state where a company is successfully leveraging these tools as intended, at their maximum capacity. 

After all, any business owner can purchase a piece of software and tell their employees to start using it. However, unless the employees understand what they need to do, then you aren’t going to see any change. In fact, digital transformation without a focus on digital adoption is simply a waste of money.

Why is Digital Adoption important?

The verdict is unfortunately harsh. In today’s digital landscapes, it’s a case of adapt or die.

 Either an organization successfully drives digital adoption, or they perish. According to Userlane’s digital adoption report:

  • 9/10 respondents agree digital adoption is key to both productivity and employee experiences.
  • 84% experience frustration or difficulty using software at work.
  • 96% struggle with digital adoption.

This, in turn, reduces the value and ROI you stand to gain from software investments. Is that a risk you can afford to take?

The benefits of Digital Adoption

Despite numerous SaaS firms providing businesses with direct solutions to their problems, digital adoption isn’t easy. 

It requires an extensive change management strategy that will convince employees and customers alike to try different technologies. 

However, the benefits of digital adoption make the time-consuming process (and investment required) well worth it.

Behavioral insights

When all employees are using the appropriate software to complete tasks, you can start to generate data and insights on their work productivity. You can compare different days, times, and staff members to figure out who does what best.

Team collaboration

A company-wide digital adoption strategy will ensure teams are constantly able to move towards the same goal. When people can efficiently use communication software, you can reduce the time between employees answering queries.

Business agility

Unless everyone is on board with the software you’ve introduced to your work processes, then you have a large weakness in your company that leads to an inability to adapt to market demands. When you focus your efforts on driving digital adoption, you are able to manage crises and be more innovative.

The benefits of driving digital adoption.

What are the main challenges of Digital Adoption?

Right now, employers around the world are facing an international digital skills shortage.  

Due to this, the staff members we do have are unable and unwilling to embrace new technologies. There isn’t the knowledge required for teams to develop a new skill, and this creates a strong resistance and unwillingness to change. 

Combine this with a report that reveals over 52% of our workforces are feeling burnt out, and it’s no wonder employees don’t have the mindset (or capacity) to participate in driving digital adoption.

What is the impact of poor Digital Adoption?

At the end of the day, digital adoption that is disjointed from a change management strategy will either:

  1. Fail completely, like 73% of other companies.
  2. Yield a much lower return on investment. 

Comparatively, neither is an ideal outcome for a business trying to scale. As such, investing in digital adoption is a basic requirement of all transformation and change processes. 

How to drive Digital Adoption the right way

To see any form of success in driving digital adoption, you need a change management strategy.


Well, in general, change processes that revolve around digital transformation as a whole go well beyond the simple implementation of new technology. They need some extra attention.

  • On the one hand, digital adoption focuses on your stakeholders and how they learn. 
  • On the other, it’s about making your business more efficient.  

Digital adoption largely focuses on adapting your approach to introducing new systems, providing employees with the time and support required to mentally prepare themselves for change. 

Let’s face it. Introducing new technology and processes would be completely useless if employees aren’t able to tap into the full range of features to optimize operations and create frictionless transactions for customers. 

The key to successful digital adoption, therefore, closely aligns with the concept of continuous improvement. To succeed, you must:

  1. Provide training opportunities.
  2. Build trust between teams.
  3. Create support channels.
  4. Have present leadership.
  5. Give employees time to learn.

Winning companies are those that have successfully implemented a lifelong learning culture and the right technology that promotes continuous learning and development. 

Examples of successful Digital Adoption

Want to master digital adoption? These companies will show you how.

Digital Adoption example 1: Pfizer

Pfizer has always been a big celebrator of advancements in HealthTech, and, recently, they’ve become recognized for their digital adoption.

  • In 2019, they launched an AI patient engagement robot.
  • Mabu now delivers data and insights to clinicians and pharmacists.
  • Their “Living With” app provides real-time support and guidance to terminally ill patients.

For the past few years, Pfizer has constantly worked behind the scenes to enhance user experiences and make sure the technology they develop is understood by both the patients who desperately need medical care and the medical professionals providing that advice. Digital adoption has played a part in this.

Digital Adoption example 2: Disney

Before 2019, you could find a few Star Wars movies on Netflix, and the rest on Amazon Prime – resulting in a negative customer experience where Disney was making little to no money. 

By designing an app (that wasn’t necessarily a new concept), Disney was able to reclaim control of their titles, withdraw rights from competitive services, and provide their loyal fanbase with a comprehensive platform to access every film they’ve ever released. 

At first, customers were wary. Why did the world need another streaming service? But, by launching with a discount offer for the first year, Disney+ broke down the barriers to increasing software adoption and made $10 billion in 2021.

Digital Adoption example 3: Ikea

Last year, Ikea brought its famous paper catalogue to an end. Although this seems like an inconsequential change to many, it was a big statement for their decision to drive digital adoption

Before, employees were manually expected to process orders for each inquiry. Now, order processing largely takes place on a software platform… one that staff members have had to learn how to use. 

Examples of digital adoption.

What is Digital Adoption? – FAQs

Digital adoption, much like digital transformation, is a broad and complicated concept. Over time, it has proven itself as a valuable asset for leaders.

How do you create a digital adoption strategy?

Driving digital adoption starts with an understanding of change management. You need to provide your employees with the tools they need to embrace the technology you are implementing, rather than reject it. 

What are the variables in digital adoption?

Digital adoption variables come down to three key elements: a) your plan to implement new software, b) the people your decision affects, and c) the process you are going to use to get them on board with the change.

How do you drive digital adoption?

To drive digital adoption, you need to provide a communication network where employees can make feedback or request help, take small and gradual steps when introducing software, and remember to be understanding.

The role of Digital Adoption Platforms

Enabling people to successfully understand a new digital framework isn’t easy. Software is growing ever smarter, and every application can have thousands of features.

That’s where digital adoption platforms (DAPs) come in.

These create an overlay to the system you are trying to introduce, providing every user with real-time guidance on how to accomplish tasks.

What’s more?

Support is delivered directly on-screen, ensuring your employees aren’t drawn away from their desks to ask questions – and they can receive the 24/7 help required to complete their job.

Industry-leader Userlane has a digital adoption platform that combines in-app user onboarding and training with step-by-step interactive performance support. Get started with your digital adoption and request a demo today.

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About the author:
The Userlane team brings you digital adoption insights, product updates, and plenty of onboarding and engagement advice for user-centric businesses.