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What Is Digital Adoption? Why It Leads to Positive ROI

January 5, 2022

digital adoption

Imagine you’re tasked with implementing a complex new CRM tool designed to transform your company's digital transformation efforts.

Sales reps across the company have better, faster, and easier access to customer information, and the sales go up. There’s only one problem: your team isn’t using the tool properly. 

Adopting digital tools is incomplete without the right implementation and digital adoption platforms. If you can't get your sales reps to properly use these tools and struggle with digital adoption, you can end up losing revenue or barely making a return on investment (ROI). Sound familiar?

It’s far more empowering when employees know they’re using a system because it makes them X% more successful by saving X% time. Enablement leaders and sales trainers need to focus on the why and how not just conveying the features and functions.

Digital adoption is essential for digital transformation success. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. This applies to implementing or introducing a new system, tool, or application. Just because you think it's a good fit for a representative or team doesn't mean it’ll automatically be successful.

Why is digital adoption important? 

Digital tools and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are growing rapidly. In fact, the average midsize business uses 137 different SaaS apps, all of which require training. 

When a training period lasts for weeks or months, the downtime for the sales force means cash out of their pockets and overall lost sales. A chosen app not delivering the expected success forces you to start over and deal with angry and frustrated employees.

Because of these SaaS tools, sales reps go through weeks and months of training and are confronted with so many different tools that it’s virtually impossible to remember them all. It’s a lot like drinking from a fire hose, yet organizations expect employees to retain their sales training.

Hours of videos, online tutorials, quizzes, and multiple sessions can be too much. On average, people forget 50% of the information presented to them within an hour, and our brains can’t cope with the information overload. 

When sales reps feel unsuccessful, they leave, resulting in expensive turnover as high as 6-9 months’ worth of an employee's annual salary. Simply put, digital adoption is essential to drive your digital transformation’s success.

Digital transformation (DX) spending is projected to reach $1.78 trillion in 2022. If digital adoption isn't fully achieved, your expensive CRM system becomes a massive waste of time, sales, energy, and resources, and this dramatically impacts your bottom line.

Digital adoption vs. digital transformation

One can easily think of digital transformation as a catchphrase or, conversely, a completely vague or complex topic. But it’s more about how an organization sets its goals and business outcomes. 

It also serves as a roadmap outlining digital tools or platforms to achieve these goals. Overall, digital transformation includes data, technology, process, and organizational change that guides a company’s transformation in a highly digital world.

Digital adoption is a component of digital transformation. It’s understanding (accepting) and using digital tools, platforms, or systems that form the core of your transformation strategy.

This shift to new systems can be as significant as CRMs and ERPs and smaller digital tools like sales enablement platforms and onboarding programs. Employees need to fully adopt these tools and realize their full potential to achieve positive ROI and digital transformation success.

How to create a digital adoption framework

Digital adoption sounds simple in theory, but even the best sales trainers struggle with it. However, you can better succeed with a digital adoption template and a proactive approach with different learning styles. Here are a few things to consider when building your digital adoption framework:

  • Align different goals. Trainers should align a business’ digital adoption goals with their digital transformation goals. This allows employees to see how they’re contributing to a bigger picture.
  • Set KPIs. Next, define employee key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals so that employees know what to do and how to measure success. When you identify the expected results, it’s easier to see the “why,” not just the “how” behind a new system.
  • Define roles. Select teams and define roles overseeing training and measurement. At this stage, it’s important to support the primary stakeholders so that they’re aware of your efforts and support the sales reps during the training. 
  • Communicate early. Early communication is key. Employees need to know what's coming and when instead of directly introducing them to the new technology. This leads to eye rolls and headaches, especially as the quarter-end approaches.
  • Find superusers. Superusers are internal champions who train and encourage employees. Not only do they help with adoption, but they can also improve work ethic.
  • Create a positive culture. Build a positive culture around using a new system, including rewards and friendly competition.
  • Forecast objections. Think about roadblocks ahead of time and remove them before they occur. Whether unrealistic target dates, poor communication tactics, or a lack of measurements, obstacles can influence or impair digital adoption and should be identified and avoided early.
  • Diversify training and onboarding. Design your training or onboarding program using different methods and learning styles. Integrate micro-learning, just-in-time learning, classroom presentations, and self-directed modules to increase retention opportunities and reduce employee turnover. Otherwise, employees forget most of what they learn.
  • Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. Learning doesn't stop after onboarding or initial assessment but continues beyond the honeymoon. Some sales reps may not use a feature until six months later and go through several training videos or tutorials to find an answer.
  • Take employee feedback. Finally, keep an open mind and take time for employee feedback. Allowing sales reps to share their voices and opinions opens up new ways to identify barriers that could hinder digital adoption. It also promotes a sense of inclusivity, leading to better digital adoption.

Ways to measure digital adoption

Knowing if your employees use your new digital tool as intended can mean different things to everyone. However, some standard metrics to measure digital adoption are:

  • Quizzes: Assess how well employees retain their learnings
  • Usage: Monitor how employees use a tool in terms of logins, data usage, or frequently used features
  • Digital tool fluency: Ask questions such as “Would they recommend the process to others?” or “Are they more successful because of an application?”. Are they saving more time or being more efficient than before?
  • Initial outcomes: Review the initial results to see if employees are meeting the KPIs defined as "success"

The impact of digital adoption on change management

As mentioned earlier, one aspect of a digital transformation strategy is organizational change. This change often involves moving to new tools and systems as part of the redefined digital initiatives. 

Communicating these changes is known as change management. It’s a process to carry out, introduce, and manage the organizational change necessary to advance a digital transformation strategy.

To administer the change successfully, organizations need to digitally adopt their new processes and tools or risk a strategic failure. Digital adoption facilitates ongoing change management, streamlines digital transformation initiatives, and generates positive ROI. Digital adoption platforms are one of the most popular ways for companies to drive change management.

How digital adoption platforms (DAPs) simplify digital adoption

Getting a new tool or system up and running can be more of a hassle than it's worth. Digital adoption platforms make running a digital adoption framework easier than ever. They also simplify training and measuring a new tool’s effectiveness.

When training is well thought out and designed for success, the chances of employees adopting your new system increase and encourage retention. Without proper training, employees are more likely to leave the company.


of employees find companies that offer additional skills training to their staff more appealing.


Digital adoption platforms are low-cost software designed to simplify the adoption of new technology and complex solutions to enhance your digital transformation efforts. Overall, they come with various features and act as a central repository or hub for collecting, sorting, and sharing data such as learning or training materials and sales figures.

The best platforms for digital adoption have change management software built into their platform, automating onboarding or training, facilitating analysis and insights, and helping generate positive ROI.

Digital adoption benefits

Digital adoption offers several benefits for sales enablement leaders and development teams across the board. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduces ramp time as sales reps onboard and start selling much faster
  • Accelerates productivity by ensuring employees quickly understand a tool’s intent and don't waste as much time learning a new system
  • Helps generate a positive ROI faster
  • Lower training costs by reducing additional training material and resources
  • Deliver customizable, digestible content that breaks up training sessions, increasing retention and employee engagement
  • Streamline the training experience with workflows and guides tailored to different learning styles
  • Provides a positive training or onboarding experience and helps increase retention 


of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding) 


Digital adoption challenges 

Digital adoption can have some drawbacks as not all digital adoption platforms are created equal. Decision-makers need to evaluate the key outcomes and guide employees on the right track to achieve the expected results.

Some digital adoption platforms lack metrics or analytics to provide key insights. Others don't offer easy integration with popular tools like Slack or more complex platforms like Salesforce. Seamless integration with popular programs can be a key factor in digital adoption when employees look for information at a critical moment.

Some digital adoption platforms convey the specifics of a company's product. This can be positive if you need customers who understand your product catalog but daunting if they don't implement a custom system or need additional training.

Digital adoption platforms can be “just another thing to learn” than a complementary new technology layer. Digital adoption accelerates productivity, but not all employees are willing to learn if the process takes longer. Some digital adoption platforms require a lot of technical knowledge and are commissioned manually. This can result in less tech-savvy employees resisting the change.

To ensure widespread digital adoption, look for a platform that’s easy to use, quick to deploy, integrates with popular apps and tools, and provides training content directly in the workflow or the apps employees use the most.

Final thoughts

Digital transformation is integral to an effective business strategy. Our employees learn even more about digital adoption as we search for the best and latest technology to make this strategy possible.

Unfortunately, this expectation and the constant desire for the latest and greatest can also lead to SaaS waste, as remote employees, in particular, give up licenses, duplicate tools across departments, or run apps before they ever take them over completely.

Employees need to be encouraged and supported as they take on these new initiatives to avoid SaaS waste. Digital adoption doesn't end after the initial onboarding. It goes beyond the induction phase and is reinforced throughout the employee's tenure. 

Is employee training becoming tardy and tedious? Learn more about employee training programs to make employee training an asset, not an obligation.

digital adoption software
Digital tools can be daunting

Train your employees to use internal digital tools and make their lives easier with digital adoption software.

digital adoption software
Digital tools can be daunting

Train your employees to use internal digital tools and make their lives easier with digital adoption software.

What Is Digital Adoption? Why It Leads to Positive ROI Digital adoption is imperative to achieving digital transformation success for positive ROI. Here is a guide to understanding digital adoption.
Jennifer Clark A creative content marketer, Jennifer Clark has made her career writing for higher ed, B2B SaaS, and technology solutions. She enjoys turning abstract concepts into engaging copy. Outside of storytelling, Jennifer enjoys live music and playing guitar.

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