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Digital Adoption: How to Implement a Successful Digital Adoption Strategy

In this blog post, we will take a birds-eye view on digital adoption in general and what tools and approaches you can employ to create and implement a successful adoption strategy. But first of all, let us define the term. 

What is Digital Adoption?

Digital Adoption is the process of helping users embrace new digital technologies. The users involved might be your customers, or they might be your employees. Whoever they are, at its most simple, digital adoption is about users engaging with digital tools in the best way to achieve their goals.

Digital Adoption can take many forms. It could be about educating users on how to use your app, website, or SaaS platform. Or it could refer to training your employees on how to use a third-party piece of software. The common theme between these scenarios is that users engage with and learn how to get as much value as possible from a product.

Apps and services are built to solve particular problems. But for users to adopt them, they need to understand how and why they will help them. 

Let's use the example of an online banking application. 

Previously, when customers wanted to complete any banking tasks, they needed to do this over the phone or in person. For banks and customers, these methods had some drawbacks. Banks had to employ staff to deal with monotonous and easily automated tasks. While for customers, it meant queuing, sitting on the phone, and access only within business hours.

Online banking apps solved many of these problems. They were convenient and saved time and money. Immediately, banks could see the value of implementing these services. The problem? How do you get users to migrate over to these methods? 

The above scenario is where digital adoption comes in. It is the set of practices that you can use to show users, per our example, why a banking app is convenient for them. 

Digital adoption also encompasses the process of designing a user experience (UX) that makes it easy and intuitive for users to know how to use a product. Finally, it also concerns itself with the behavioral shifts that are required to get maximum value from apps or products.

Are Digital Adoption and Digital Transformation the Same?

While the two concepts are pretty similar, they have distinct differences. Digital adoption is an aspect of digital transformation that is concerned with understanding how to use the tools necessary for transformation.

Whereas digital transformation is a broader orientation towards replacing manual or legacy systems with new digital tools that better suit the evolving changes and needs of modern life and business.

Why Digital Adoption is Important

There are several reasons why digital adoption is important. 

At an organizational level, digital adoption is crucial to stay competitive. The pace of technology moves pretty fast, and new tools or ways to work are constantly emerging. 

The past decade has seen a rise in SaaS platforms, thanks in part to the emergence of cloud technology. These advances have made software more accessible than ever, with more choice and specialist tools available to organizations. 

The focus of a lot of new software is driving efficiency. So to stay competitive, companies need to invest in and adopt these new tools. But investing in new software is just the start. Employees need to learn how to use these tools to their full extent to gain a competitive advantage.

All businesses need to make a return on investment (ROI). Spending big on innovative tools is all well and good, but it's pointless if employees don't embrace the new possibilities. Employees need to understand how to get the most from their tools, and management must find a way to help them achieve this.

At a customer level, digital adoption can be the difference between success and failure. You can make a really useful piece of software, but it can't succeed if no one can figure out how it brings them value. Similarly, if customers don't understand how to use an app or platform to its full potential, user retention levels can drop.

Users are expensive to acquire. With subscription models making up the lion's share of business models, user churn needs to be minimized. Ensuring that users understand and reach their aha moment within your product is a great way to boost user retention.

Digital Adoption Challenges for Employees

Here are some of the challenges that occur in-house:

  • Overly Complicated Software: Business software tends to be a bit more complex and feature-heavy than consumer software. As a result, the associated learning curve is steeper.

  • Resistance to Change: Many humans are creatures of habit. If they have invested time and energy into an existing workflow, they can be reluctant to try new approaches.

  • Training: If you introduce new software to any team, they need good onboarding or training. Failing to do this can harm productivity.

  • Software Overload: If there are several apps or products needed to complete daily tasks, employees can become overwhelmed and not understand how to get the best out of each one

Digital Adoption Challenges for Customers

Here are some of the challenges that customers face

  • Competitive Landscape: There are many different products out there, and each one is competing for customers' attention. Customers will gravitate towards the products that give them value. 

  • Educating Customers: Building great functionality and features are wasted if customers don't use them. Developers need to find ways to educate their customers on their products so that they understand their value. This challenge can cover acquiring new customers or retaining existing users.

  • Customer Support: To drive a product or service adoption, a business must provide customer support. Email and phone support can be costly, so many companies need to find ways to automate.

Digital Adoption During COVID-19: A Case Study

COVID-19 lockdown measures accelerated the trend towards remote work and cloud-based SaaS businesses. Many companies were caught by surprise by these unprecedented events and were forced to pivot quickly. Indeed, as a report by global management giant McKinsey shows, COVID fast-forwarded consumer and business digital adoption by five years in just eight weeks.

Across a wide range of industries and sectors, software enabled remote working and services. Doctors delivered telemedicine; schools adopted digital learning; brick-and-mortar stores shifted to e-Commerce models. There was scarcely a domain of human endeavor that was not assisted by digitization in some form.

Remote work suddenly became the standard across the bulk of industries. In many ways, these circumstances forced the hands of businesses to invest in digital adoption on a larger scale. The business legacy of this time is a shift towards more permanent digitization. 

Three areas that have changed forever and have the potential to make businesses more productive are:

Flexible and Remote Working: While not all businesses are ready to give up their offices, many workers and leaders will continue a blended approach to being in the office. This change is made possible by digital tools that allow greater collaboration. This trend will suit an emerging workforce that values work-life balance. 

Digital Delivery: Many services that were once provided in-person (like banking or passport renewals) can be delivered digitally. 67% of people have stated their preference for self-serve models. For businesses, this offers the opportunity to provide a more cost-effective service that people actually want. 

Additionally, this transformation has accelerated the trend towards paperless workplaces.

Richer Data Analytics: Increased digital services generate a more considerable amount of data. Companies can analyze these data to learn more about human interactions and behavior, which they can leverage into improving services and understanding.

For companies, the benefits of digital adoption are clear. However, for a variety of reasons, many organizations struggle with implementing digital adoption. 


A good digital adoption strategy will answer the why and how to use a digital service. It also employs a wide array of tools and approaches to ensure your employees or customers digest all the new information in an optimal manner and obtain the necessary skills to use a digital service to its full potential. One of these tools is Usetiful.

If you want to bring your digital adoption strategy to the next level, get in touch today to schedule a demo.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

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