Why digital adoption matters in today’s business world

Convincing the leadership at your organization that you need to 'go digital' is one thing. Actually getting everyone to use the platforms, tools and services you select is another.

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The rise of Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) has radically changed the way organizations build their infrastructure, relying less on on-premise services and shifting their attention to online and cloud-based solutions. The ubiquitous nature of mobile and online-capable devices means that employees in a company can have full access to their devices from anywhere in the world, and with significant ease.

Even so, there are countless stories of organizations spending millions on shiny new platforms and online applications only to see their investments wither and waste away from lack of use. Although these new tools are built to simplify users’ lives, it can be difficult to achieve adoption when organizations do not do enough to justify a new platform or clearly highlight its values. As such, ensuring a product’s digital adoption is a vital concern for any organization in the process of installing or implementing a new service or tool. Especially in an online world, digital adoption is no longer optional.

Why new implementations stutter

There is not a single reason why adoption of a new service or company-wide initiative fails, but rather a network of interrelated factors. It begins with a lack of focus on what exactly an implementation or transformation is supposed to achieve. When companies do not have a clear view of what they are hoping to achieve, it is difficult to engage others to adopt a new tool. Similarly, a lack of support from the C-level and management will also likely stop digital adoption straight in its tracks.

Another crucial component that many companies ignore when rolling out new pricey platforms and software is a focus on the users themselves. Executives’ decisions are sometimes based on factors that completely ignore their stakeholders—price, flash, trendiness—and can seriously stunt adoption.

Users who are unhappy with a new tool are more likely to keep using their legacy systems and affect the effectiveness of new tools. This is also connected to a lack of information and education when companies invest heavily in a new solution, but not enough in training their employees to use and adapt to the new software. Finally, a lack of a clear strategy for integration will stall adoption long before employees even touch a new application.

Why adoption matters

With such a difficult road, it is little surprise that so many “digital transformation” projects fail. A lack of digital adoption can seriously cripple a new implementation, and it can result in thousands and potentially millions of dollars lost in the long term. Instead of simply focusing on installing a new state-of-the-art ERP, CRM, or analytics suite, companies must focus on creating a concrete and comprehensive digital adoption plan.

The most obvious reason why digital adoption is important is simple—no matter how effective or powerful a new software solution is, it is only as good as the number of people using it. In massive organizations, deployment and roll-out of new programs is carefully planned to guarantee that as many people as possible will make the shift as quickly as feasible.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that rapid digital adoption is the best way to ensure new digital assets—software, applications, tools—generate a return on investment. This is true both for internal applications and external ones. An organization that implements an expensive CRM will need it to generate a tangible improvement in sales, conversions, and leads to justify its cost. Similarly, a new application or portal for users must result in higher traffic or more clicks. Without a strong surge of digital adoption, both cases would result in losses for an organization.

Finally, digital adoption means that a company is working with its best possible tools. Organizations that continue to work on legacy systems are quickly lapped by those that fully embrace and successfully implement changes. Even so, simply adding new solutions does little to improve efficiency. Digital adoption ensures that every stakeholder in an organization is working from the same foundation and with the same tools.

This improves communication, provides the expected outcomes, and streamlines operations further by standardizing work and software across a company. Organizations looking to complete digital transformation processes, or migrate their existing services online require buy-in and adoption from their users, or they risk losses that could do more than set back their IT budget.

A new focus on digital adoption

As more companies shift the majority of their services and operations online, finding ways to improve adoption rates and succeed in digital transformations is crucial. For businesses that are looking to abandon legacy systems, a lack of digital adoption can result in losses, delays, poor service, and unhappy stakeholders.

With each new implementation and digital transformation, companies must be aware of every factor to make sure that transitions and new deployments are smooth and welcome by all. A strong focus on education, support from management, and a clear course of action can help, and a targeted approach by every stakeholder in an organization can guarantee that new solutions will be embraced rather than ignored.

This story, "Why digital adoption matters in today’s business world" was originally published by CIO.