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3 Reasons Why Digital Adoption is Hard & How You Can Make It Easier

Paul Gautier

Senior Learning & Development Specialist, EPAM
Blog
  • Business Information Services

Say you’re implementing a new enterprise software platform—it’s a robust, detailed process. The purchase took three months. The vendor supplied in-person training to onboard your employees, and you have a contract in place for continuing product support. The platform promises to transform a significant area of your business. But a month passes. Operations slow. Morale drops. So, what’s the problem…? The software, your employees, or your expectations?

The answer: All of the above.

We know that the right digital tools can propel transformation, but onboarding a new platform can be a messy process, especially if you don’t approach it properly. Institutional resistance, intricate and specialized technology functionality, and ineffective before-the-fact training are key factors that complicate the adoption process. To put it simply, there are usually three interconnected challenges related to new platform implementations: Company culture, the learning curve and knowledge loss.

  1. Company Culture. No matter how efficient your rollout process, your employees are likely to resist change. A certain level of inertia is natural. Long-time employees are big drivers of company culture and are often slow to trade in their familiar tools for new ones. Digital transformation is as much about changing company culture as it is about adopting new technology. But the cultural change is a less burdensome when the technical challenges that come with it are easier.
  2. The Learning Curve. It takes a long time for users to become experts in a new technology. Modern business platforms are highly specialized and come with a forbidding learning curve. New users will face difficulties regardless of their level of buy-in. Throughout the learning phase, employees will make mistakes using the new platform, or they spend hours figuring out a task. This inevitably causes the speed of operations to decrease, which lowers ROI and prolongs the platform’s time-to-value.
  3. Knowledge Loss. Traditional software onboarding—the kind with an instructor in a crowded room—is expensive and time-consuming, and its effects are temporary. It’s hard to develop platform expertise in a team. It’s easy to lose it.  The collective knowledge of your organization, especially when it comes to a specific software platform, bleeds out in a couple of ways. The first is a simple lack of retention. Learners may not encounter an edge case or employ a rare workflow until months after onboarding. They tend to forget what they don’t use. Training is most effective when it applies to the learner’s immediate needs.

    The second is the churn that occurs during the software’s life cycle. Employees who participated in the training process will leave, while new hires won’t experience the same level of support that was available at the beginning. Because of these two factors, the greatest challenges of your adoption process may not occur until a year after the initial onboarding. To build and maintain expertise over time, adoption needs to be ongoing, not frontloaded.

The goal of the digital adoption process is to make sure your new tools are used to their fullest potential. That’s where a digital adoption platform (DAP) comes into play—it’s a system that facilitates learning within the software itself and helps end-users at the point of need, helping you overcome the above challenges.

DAPs integrate solutions for software onboarding and continued skill development. They address training through multiple methods, from step-by-step tutorials and feature simulators to instructional overlays that offer suggestions from within the program. For example, when a user accesses a feature for the first time, DAPs can suggest a micro-learning tutorial. Five minutes of training at just the right time is more effective than an hour of training that occurred six months ago. With its end-user analytics, DAPs can also reveal user pain points by tracking the failure and abandonment of certain tasks, highlighting tasks and workflows where employees may need intervention. You can then make more informed decisions around more tailored eLearning coursework or peer coaching for an employee’s specific needs. Ultimately, an understanding of those pain points at a granular level allows you to maximize the use of every dollar and hour put toward training.

AI and machine learning are transforming modern business process, and digital adoption is no exception. The near horizon of the AI-integrated DAP will be largely based around coaching. Chatbots within the platform can understand requests and suggest solutions. Users who are acclimating to a new software don’t yet know what information is most relevant to their experience. Using the platform’s own analytics, the chatbot can recognize what tasks are important for any given user role to feature the most relevant and necessary information. Intelligent onboarding enables your employees to get the most out of their time without extra effort. This training process scales naturally and reduces dependency on human experts and support tickets, saving operation costs and eliminating the time between responses.

If digital transformation is about the integration of new tools and the shift in mindset that comes with them, then getting the most out of those tools is critically important. Only 14% of respondents in a recent survey said that their digital transformation efforts have made and sustained improvements. There’s no margin for error when it comes to transforming your business. Getting your digital adoption right matters. Organizations that can make agile shifts to new technologies are the ones best equipped to seize the opportunities they present.

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