We live in an increasingly digital world. We shop, make appointments, order food and taxis, and document our lives online. Approximately 70 percent of us use social media to connect and share content, and most spend an astonishing four hours per day interacting with our smartphones. Deep learning and AI are changing the ways we consume and create media, and over the coming decade will completely transform how we drive, how we bank, what types of medical treatments we receive, and more.

Most businesses know that the digital revolution arrived long ago and that the deadline they needed to hit for upping their digital presence was yesterday. However, with so many digital trends and buzzwords being bandied about, even firms with the best intentions may be at a loss for what tools they need, but more importantly how to integrate these tools with their business. Onboarding new technologies doesn’t have to be a gargantuan task. You just need the proper template: a sound digital adoption strategy.

Exploring Digital Adoption

Digital adoption is what happens when digital tools are deployed by companies in pursuit of common goals, such as reinforcing relationships with customers, reducing human capital expenditures, and pursuing automation strategies. It’s no longer enough for businesses to have access to the most cutting-edge technologies.

If your staff or customers are unsure of how to use these technologies or reluctant to use them, you won’t derive any of the benefits these tools promise. Correct digital adoption sees users guided through the ins and outs of the technology so that they not only feel comfortable but fully embrace it, and in the case of employees, universally incorporate it into their workflow.

A basic example of digital adoption is Google’s G Suite business applications. The paid version of which is gaining traction with corporations like Airbus, Verizon, and Whirlpool. Poor digital adoption would be an employee writing a document on the Google Docs app, downloading it as a Microsoft Word document, and then emailing the document to a colleague. In the ideal scenario, the employee writes a document directly on Google Docs, then shares it through the app interface with several colleagues so that they can all edit it in conjunction, ensuring that everyone has access to the most up-to-date version.

In the first case, the employee used Google Docs but didn’t maximize its potential in terms of time and efficiency. In the second scenario, the employee fully adopted Google Doc technology and was able to deploy it to reduce wasted time while simultaneously boosting her and her teammates’ productivity.

Solving for EX and CX

In the second example, the employee experience (EX) was much smoother and less stratified than the EX described in the first scenario. As companies begin to understand that EX is intrinsic to employee motivation and retention, getting digital adoption right will become even more critical. Working to minimize superfluous technologies that overburden employees is a good start.

The next step is choosing a system that takes employees on a personalized training journey, adapting itself to each person’s pace, strengths and weaknesses. Once employees are comfortable with the platforms critical to company operations, they’ll be more satisfied, have a greater context for their own work, and be more likely to relinquish their grip on the old way of doing things.

Introducing customers to your newest digital offering is just as straightforward. While you can’t force them to undergo training sessions like you might an unenthusiastic or stubborn employee, you can utilize your marketing department to prepare and disseminate outstanding educational materials. It’s possible to both explain to customers how to use your new technology and convince them that this technology is something they want. With an extraordinary customer experience (CX) in mind, customers will buy into the new tools but also remain engaged with them.

Generating a Positive ROI on Digital Assets

The underlying purpose of digital adoption is to drive efficiency for business. In the internet era, the best tech to embrace often comes in the form of comprehensive business software. Content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, and other software suites blend together business flows in a way that makes it easy to visualize what’s happening, implement sweeping changes, and address issues like bottlenecking or low customer retention rates proactively.

Accordingly, the B2B enterprise software industry is on a tear and took in over $369 billion in 2017—a figure that is forecast to grow to $439 billion in 2019. More than improving efficiency, however, digital tools allow businesses to measure precisely how and why the changes they’ve made produce specific results.

ROI from technologies is difficult to measure when a firm uses several different solutions, but many software platforms bring everything “under one roof” by outright replacing single-purpose technology or helping to plug it into the new interface. This brand of digital adoption allows businesses to see which key performance indicators (KPIs) work well, and why, whereas before this was difficult to quantify.

Businesses can delve beneath surface level and, instead of paying attention to shallow metrics like the number of users per platform, can measure how employees and customers are interacting, how they benefit, and where they can squeeze more out of the technology. Ultimately, investing in a digital adoption strategy empowers businesses to determine which technologies are working, which are worth investigating, and which need to go.

Tying Tech Together

Whether we like it or not, the digital age is here to stay. Instead of playing catchup with continually evolving technologies, hands-on businesses can stay ahead of the curve by driving digital adoption and making it a top priority. By helping your teams and customers properly use and acclimate to any new technology you acquire, you’re setting your business up for success.

With digital adoption, you improve time usage and productivity, keep employees and customers happy, reduce churn, and overall generate a positive ROI on your digital investments. The bottom line is, digital adoption keeps you competitive. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to get your head in the game.

Reuben Jackson

Reuben Jackson

Ruben is a blockchain security consultant currently living in New York City. He helps organizations fundamentally redesign experiences to create new sources of value also digitally reinventing company's operations for greater efficiency.