It’s the fag end of 2018; pundits are already done raving about edge computing, blockchain, immersive experiences and IoT as the big trends for 2019. But trends are just to be watched not immediately adopted. We reckon it’s not going to be Artificial Intelligence or blockchain or cloud computing but Digital Adoption Platforms that will drive transformation in enterprises in 2020.
Why’s that?
In 2020, digital transformation and digital adoption are at the top of the boardroom agenda for a lot of enterprises. But these are going to be monumental tasks for them not due their lack of adequate mental faculty or resources, but, because of the scale of implementation. Digital transformation is widely known but digital adoption is something that a lot of people are only recognizing over recent months as the focus on scuppered transformation efforts increases.  

Cloud Computing Growth necessitating Digital Adoption Platforms

Growth of Cloud Computing.
                                                     Source: Eclipse

So, let’s start with the rudimentary things, right? Start shooting.

What’s a Digital Adoption Platform?

Digital adoption platforms automate the product adoption lifecycle of a software application user. The user could be an employee using a third-party product within an organization or the end user of the application the organization is selling. In either case, digital adoption is a pathway to product success whereby the user is able to obtain full value out of the application in a very short period of time and is able to continue gaining value at a constantly maintained productivity level. And, Digital Adoption Platforms enable organizations to effectively do this.

Seems like a really niche product?

It does sound like a niche product but, in reality, it’s not. That’s because it solves a real problem that organizations at every scale are facing as they are moving to the cloud and using more and more heterogeneous SaaS applications to achieve their business functions.
In fact, Digital Adoption Platform, or DAP,  is nothing but a Performance Support platform, which in itself is a pretty well known category. DAPs work on the same principle of leading application users through a workflow at the time of need. But new age Performance Support platforms, or Digital Adoption Platforms,  do this in real time within the application the user is using. So, considering that adoption is a critical problem for every enterprise and business, Digital Adoption Platforms are really not a niche product.     

What is the adoption problem, exactly, that these Digital Adoption Platforms are trying to solve?

Well, one of the first problems in the adoption problem, is that companies who face this problems rarely ever acknowledge it. When organizations undertake digital transformation projects, they introduce multiple software products into their ecosystem which are to be effectively and efficiently used by the workforce for the success of the project.
Of course, introduction of software products into the ecosystem is only a means to digital transformation. The purpose is, quite obviously, to change the paradigms by which value is delivered to end users. Yet, this delivery hinges to a good extent on the effective use of software products within the organization by its workforce.
Organizations either assume that digital adoption will take care of itself or provide for some rudimentary training and expect that employees will take to the software applications like a duck takes to water.  
But, no, that doesn’t happen.

It should happen. How hard can it be? Software product vendors provide all the support. Organizations design programmes to make it easy for employees to get accustomed to all the new applications.

Well, that’s the problem we are talking about. All that would be enough in an ideal world but we live in a world that’s light years away from ideal. Second, what’s digital transformation all about? It’s about profoundly changing business processes so as to suit the demands and expectations of the new age customers.
Unfortunately, what happens is that even if organizations introduce applications built with Artificial Intelligence, they still use traditional formal training methodologies to train their employees. Digital transformation, in essence, is end-to-end. It can’t be piecemeal in its approach and that’s where many organizations fail.
True, application vendors would provide all the requisite support. But that can’t possibly suffice because vendor support isn’t designed to precisely help users who are in the midst of a massive digital transformation initiative. Vendor support is essentially just general technical support. But with employees who are just getting started on a new piece of application, it requires much more.

What employees need is experiential learning and just-in-time support to resolve even the smallest of queries.

Also, aren’t SaaS based software applications intuitive by design? Obviously, because organizations are only switching to cloud and SaaS, not legacy applications.  

That’s generally the idea while designing and building web products. But, as the complexity of the functions that they perform increases, like in the case of CRM, the complexity of the product inevitably increases. That’s not to say they are hard to handle or not very easy to use but it still takes a lot of getting used to before someone can actually starting using these applications at an optimum level of performance.
Doesn’t matter if the users are accustomed to using a SaaS application. A new application always brings its own set of adoption problems.     

Okay, so why wouldn’t traditional training not work? Digital transformation doesn’t mean everything needs to be changed. Some things can’t be changed. Even then, training is not completely devoid of technology.

True, that. Companies do use a mix of multiple training methods. In 2017, virtual classrooms and Learning Management Systems (LMS) were used by almost 73% and 86% of all the companies worldwide. That’s the majority. So, essentially, innovation in training that organizations have brought about. But that’s not enough because it doesn’t provide learning employees with practicality, experience and engagement. On the other side, for organizations, it doesn’t allow for measurability and effective scalability.
Remember that the new age customer is also the new age employee.

So, how is a Digital Adoption Platform different from any other tool?

Well, the first difference is that it’s not a training tool. It’s a platform that drives product adoption by improving individual performance on software applications. In a way, training is for the purpose of improving performance. But, even then, it’s a one time event unless organizations waste time in regular training sessions. Performance Support, on the other hand, is something that is always happening, always available and inside the application. It’s meant to satisfy the expectations and needs of both the employee and the organization.
It’s also different in the sense that any other sort of training or onboarding mechanism would, at best, only stimulate digital adoption. But, a DAP can drive digital adoption and hence, to a good extent, drive digital transformation.

Do Digital Adoption Platforms guarantee the success of Digital Transformation projects?

No, they don’t. Digital Adoption is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the success of Digital Transformation projects. There is still a lot that organizations need to get in place in order to ensure the success of their project.

Still, it appears to be more of a luxury product. Or, is it applicable only during digital transformation events?

Again, no. It’s anything but luxury. In fact, as we pointed out earlier, with an increasing number of companies introducing more and more software automation into their ecosystem, Digital Adoption Platforms become all the more essential.
And another no. Digital Adoption Platforms or Performance Support platform drive digital adoption so the need to drive digital adoption could arise in any situation. It need not always be a Digital Transformation event.

So, what a Performance Support Platform or Digital Adoption Platform do that anyone else can’t?   

Simply speaking, it automates an application user’s product or digital adoption lifecycle. Unlike any other onboarding, training or support mechanism, video isn’t the core delivery mechanism. Performance Support works by walking users through workflows within the live application which amounts to experiential learning. It can onboard users, train them and provide just-in-time support so there is no loss of productivity during and after the transformation events and organizations really derive good ROI on their application stack investment.

That’s interesting. It’s totally different from the current learning paradigm so will that mean all the existing training infrastructure has to be replaced?

It’s different and better, yes. But that doesn’t mean all the existing infrastructure goes into the bin. The essential difference is that Performance Support Platforms bring learning inside the application as opposed to legacy methods which do it outside the product. Which is in cases of Performance Support platforms like Whatfix, organizations are empowered to bring all of the existing training content inside through various methods so all the previous investment doesn’t go waste.

Can we get to try one of these?

Go ahead and sign up for a trial of Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform and see what benefits it brings you.  

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