What is digital adoption? (+ benefits & challenges by department)


Digital adoption encompasses the learning journey users embark on when embracing new software and technologies. This process typically occurs during the onboarding of new users, the integration of digital tools, or the implementation of change management initiatives. Digital adoption is ultimately the state where users fully comprehend and effectively utilize the capabilities of their digital tools. In essence, it signifies users’ ability to leverage the functionalities and advantages of both their tools and the associated change processes.

In practice, digital adoption is the outcome of continuous change management, onboarding, and training efforts, especially when incorporating new changes, software features, or updates. Ensuring that users’ learning and skills remain up-to-date directly influences the long-term success and sustainability of your software implementations.

Consider digital adoption the GPS in your digital transformation journey. You wouldn’t plan an expedition without an itinerary, so neither should your users. Together, change management and digital adoption play a crucial role in the implementation and sustainability of digital transformation.

Digital adoption allows organizations to:

  • Close the digital skills gap
  • Prevent skills obsolescence
  • Align employee skills, corporate training, and business goals
  • Implement sustainable digital transformation
  • Measure digital transformation ROI

Why does digital transformation requires digital adoption?

The global response to Covid-19 accelerated an era of digital transformation. Overnight organizations shifted business priorities towards cloud-based, SaaS, and collaborative solutions to ensure the future of their operations. The vast majority of organizations were unprepared to implement not just one but multiple new tools at once, and all… while remote. This acceleration of digital transformation and deployment of digital solutions, mean digital adoption is now critical to organizational success.

Gartner’s Research VP, Sid Nag, notes, ‘The events of last year allowed CIOs to overcome any reluctance of moving mission-critical workloads from on-premises to the cloud…the pandemic served as a multiplier for CIOs’ interest in the cloud.’

Successful digital transformation drives both the performance and competitive advantage of organizations:

  • Short term: digital technologies and employee digital tools improve productivity and customer experience.
  • Medium-term: digital transformation creates new growth opportunities and business model innovation.
  • Long-term: overcoming the initial process of digital transformation paves the way for continuous, sustainable success and further innovation.  

(Source: BCG)

Who is concerned with digital adoption?

Successful transformation poses different challenges to stakeholders across an organization, all of which can be addressed with digital adoption:

  • A CIO concerned with the ROI of your tools (improving the day-to-day use of tools, improving user adoption, lowering support requests, etc.) 
  • A Head of Change interested in promoting new and sustainable processes (reducing resistance to change
  • An HR Director trying to standardize processes and reduce skills obsolescence (keep skills up to date)
  • A Learning and development leader exploring new ways to optimize training (remote onboarding, reducing training costs) 
  • A Purchasing Director trying to facilitate the use of procurement tools for occasional users
  • Any other stakeholder looking to get the most out of their digital tools 

What are the benefits of digital adoption?

In today’s business landscape and the broader view of your organization, successful digital adoption is beneficial to your organization, employees, and customers for a variety of reasons.

a) to commit users long term 

b) to increase the time to value of your users

c) to instill the value of digital transformation into your organization

d) to create a digital corporate culture

e) to lower costs (training, support, operational costs, etc.) 

f) to improve user retention

g) to decrease, mitigate and eliminate software abandonment

h) to improve workflows and internal efficiency 

i) to create sustainable digital transformation

j) to be competitive in your industry

Organizations track digital adoption as a metric to maximize digital transformation ROI, improve software onboarding and training implementation and reduce organizational training costs. But new technology is only half the solution. Simply put, technology is only profitable once users can extract its value. 

94% of employees would stay with a firm for longer if it invested in their learning and development. (Rallyware, 2021)

How does a DAP benefit departments in an organization?

Human Resources department

Human Resources ChallengesDAP Benefits
Optimizing ineffective and complex trainingScalable and adaptable training for exisiting and new tools and features
Implementing remote and distance training100% remote onboarding and training capabilities
Reducing training and support costs while increasing program efficiencyOn-demand guides and 24/7 support reducing level 1 and 2 support requests
Consistent communication with each departmentReal-time targeted updates
Reducing skills obsolescenceEasy-to-use authoring tool to create interactive content

Learning & Development department

Learning & Development ChallengesDAP Benefits
Training management to overcome employee resistance to changeAdaptable learning and training paths, available at the
time of need
Facilitating agility and engagement in workplace cultureContinuous interaction with end-users thanks to embedded push notifications
Reducing skills obsolescence‘Learning by doing’ method facilitating user learning on-the-go
Adapting to remote and distance learning Step-by-step interactive walkthroughs, on-demand guides and 24/7 support

Purchasing department

Purchasing ChallengesDAP Benefits
Engaging users on complex tools (ERP, Procurement, CRM…)User segmentation by project and customizable workflows
Communicating internal issues to buyersDirect in-app messaging and push notifications toward specific users
Standardizing purchasing processes within the organizationBetter day-to-day user engagement on their tools (field auto-fill, auto-correction, in-app guidance, etc.)
Reducing data entry errorsAutonomous skills development for users, including external users (customized training courses)
Facilitating the registration and autonomy of suppliers Remote onboarding, training and support
Data analytics and reportingIn-depth data analytics dashboard to track user behavior and software usage

Change management department

Change Management ChallengesDAP Benefits
Implementing complex and costly trainingCentralized training management (simplified project management, industrialization, large-scale deployments)
Internal resistance to change (by management and employees)Personalized change management using customized, streamlined learning processes and autonomy to learn 
Difficulty in measuring ROIDirect in-app messaging and push notifications toward specific users
Communicating on change and progressReal-time data and user analytics to make data-driven decisions (user behavior, content performance, predictive analytics)
Facilitating the adoption of changes and ensuring the sustainability of new processes Automated employee onboarding, training, and orientation

How to drive digital adoption?

Any organizational change or transformation should be driven by planning, especially when implementing new technology. Achieving successful digital adoption amongst your users requires strategic thinking from the get-go.

A bad first impression can be detrimental. User onboarding is the introduction to a tool and the first stage of adoption. Users form their initial judgment based on implementation, user experience, ease of use, and practically to functionality. If your users experience difficulty at this stage, it increases the probability of software abandonment (user churn) later down the line.

Luckily, a digital adoption checklist can help drive successful adoption

  1. Introduce the change and its value to all stakeholders
  2. Communicate with users at each stage of a change process
  3. Facilitate a mindset and culture around change (behaviors, skills, attitudes) 
  4. Develop a change management strategy
  5. Implement a digital adoption platform (DAP)
  6. Assemble an all-in-one resource library – for centralized access to guidance and support
  7. Deliver personalized training 
  8. Use the ‘learning by doing’ methodology
  9. Measure user analytics and performance 
  10. Collect user feedback

What are digital adoption challenges?

Traditional user onboarding and training can be time-consuming, expensive, and more than often unsuccessful. 

New hires must complete an average of 54 onboarding activities. (SaplingHR, 2021)

These challenges lead to lower rates of adoption, additional training, and in the worst-case scenario, software abandonment. The task is even more challenging as software stacks evolve and scale over time. 

How to identify your challenges

What are your current training methods? Are users engaged in the process? How do you measure the success of your training? 

Inadequate training methods: Classroom training sessions alongside inefficient demos create a margin for error, including information retention, disengagement, and repeat training. Coupled with long-winded training materials (PDFs, PPTs, certification tests, archaic LMSs), users lose the right to take in information at their own pace.

Is your strategy defined from start to finish? Are all your stakeholders involved in the project conception and continually updated throughout the project?

Lack of change management strategy: Lack of strategy means unprepared, uneducated, and reluctant employees working between old and new systems on top of their existing workload. 

Do you have an established user support system in place? Is support at the core of your digital user experience, and is there effective two-way communication?

Resistance to change: A lack of strategy results in employee resistance to change which is both the worst-case scenario and the most common outcome of introducing new software or change processes. Resistance is due to factors that include: poor communication, fear of failure, and training time constraints.

Do your software investments contain analytics to support ROI? Do you have digitized, real-time access to product and user insights?

Measuring user adoption: Conventional onboarding and training results are difficult to measure and inaccurate for ROI based on classroom learning, documents, and certifications. And unless individual tools or additional software contain analytics, it’s also measured once, giving organizations no overview of the relationship between user and software from that point forward.

What is a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP)?

A digital adoption platform (DAP) is software specifically designed to navigate users through their digital tools day-to-day, with complete autonomy. Users benefit from on-demand training guides and 24/7 access to support to facilitate their engagement. 

Platform features include step-by-step in-application walkthroughs – providing organizations with an interactive environment to onboard, train, and communicate with their users. 

A DAP is an autonomous training tool with full remote capabilities, real-time analytics, and adaptable training guides that can target specific users and user needs.

What makes a digital adoption platform a must have, compared with other training solutions is its ability to embed over any web-based application. It allows users to train and work simultaneously, directly inside their software, and reduce distractions. The interactive system of guides facilitates “learning by doing” – a practical learning methodology used to educate users while they work.

A digital adoption platform is a key tool to closing the digital skills gap, reducing skills obsolescence, and implementing a culture of employee development from the day of onboarding.

Digital adoption platform features

In-application interactive walkthroughs

An interactive walkthrough is much like a virtual guided tour, with one exception. The user manually guides themselves through an action-activated sequence of guides, tooltips, and popups revealing new information step-by-step.   

Taking place in-application, interactive walkthroughs are a more effective way to engage and educate users during onboarding.


A microlearning approach transforms training into bite-size micro objectives. Training modules range from 30 seconds to 3 minutes in short, frequent bursts of information activated by the user. Simple and targeted information helps facilitate maximum engagement.

Resource library

All learning resources are centralized and accessible at the time of need. The resource library only displays what is relevant to a particular learning path at one time, improving efficiency and time.

Personalized and customizable content

In the learning process, it’s vital to reach the right users with the right content. Ensure users only receive relevant and tailored training specific to their profile.

Customizable training

Adapt and customize training workflows based on user analytics, code free.

24/7 Support

Implement user support on any software or application, including CRM, ERP, HR application, in-house tools, etc.

Multi-project management

Manage multiple projects at once with a dashboard overview of all your users, projects, and guides. 

User analytics

Measure user and content performance in real-time by tracking the interactions between users and their resources.

Sarah C

Sarah oversees all things inbound marketing, exploring the many business uses and topics surrounding digital adoption. Her previous experiences include B2C and product marketing in the social listening space, uncovering emerging industry trends.