An email lands from the CEO or CIO. ‘Exciting news!’ it promises. ‘We’ve just implemented a great new sales and marketing system. You’ll find it extremely helpful. Your line managers will send out some instructions soon. But please start using it asap.’
Sounds familiar? What do you suppose the take-up will be?
Digital transformation has birthed a barrage of technology options. The worldwide transformation spending to reach $3.4 trillion by 2026, after which acceleration will continue at a 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $6.78 trillion in cumulative spending by the end of the decade.
Yet, up to 70% of digital transformation programmes are either only moderately successful, or fail outright. An enormous amount of annual spend is wasted – according to reputable source estimates, as much as $900 billion globally.
There are other indicators of suboptimal digitisation. Meta-studies prove the paradoxical problems with information and communication technologies in the workplace. While they are designed to boost collaboration, efficiency and productivity, their pervasiveness creates an overload factor.
There is a formal definition of this: technology overload is the point at which the addition of new technology generates diminishing marginal returns. It’s a technical measure; on a more human level, consider the real-life stress triggered in trying to remember a password – one of perhaps 100 the average person needs to manage – in order to, for example, download a payslip from the employer’s ERP system. Technology is supposed to enable tasks, not make employees feel frustrated at the apparent compounding of work and a strain on their mental capacity.
Bridging the technology know-how gap
The basic principle of a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) is that it integrates within other software systems or applications and provides prompts or answers to assist users. DAPs steer employees through and around the software, giving tips, and personalising applications to meet individuals’ frequent requirements – all in the flow of work.
Intuitively, given some of the problems per the indicators above, DAPs are much needed.
Training, too, is increasingly accepted as a black hole. In the U.S. alone over $100 billion was spent on corporate training and development last year – roughly the size of Meta’s global revenues (the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp). The breakdown itself reflects inefficiencies, with 72% of this spent on salaries of training staff and outside goods and services such as travel. Even more problematically, the training process is something akin to throwing spaghetti on a wall and seeing if it sticks. The chances are that much won’t – at least not for very long, because established psychology research about the forgetting curve shows that half of training is forgotten in just 24 hours, and 90% within a month. Whatever route companies take to formalise L&D and training, the reality is that lack of retention is a concerning issue.
Training, upskilling and L&D are vital, but traditional methods are increasingly ineffective, and their implementation can be a burden on the organisation’s resources. DAPs reduce reliance on training professionals and IT support teams and create learning moments in the flow of work rather than sporadically.
From the streamlining of onboarding to the micro-learnings and moments of continuous upskilling, DAPs have a practical role at every stage of an employee’s journey with the company.
But DAPs also deliver tangible benefits in other business-critical areas.
Software or shelfware?
For many companies across the world, even global, enterprise-size businesses, the implementation of new tools and systems can be disruptive and their uptake may be slow, incomplete, or sometimes simply never happens. Implementation of the C-suite’s digital vision and strategy is lagging. “Almost without exception,” says Riyan Silochan, Managing Executive at LRMG, “feedback we get from clients’ leadership is that they are unhappy with the rate of adoption.”
One blue-chip South African enterprise has 22,000 people using between 12 to 40 different applications every day depending on their role. The annual cost of these systems and applications is in the hundreds of millions of rands. But the company does not know whether 10% of employees actually use them, or – still problematic but somewhat more hopefully – whether the proportion is more like 40%.
Not knowing: beyond enabling user adoption, cutting-edge DAPs such as MyGuide and Oracle Guided Learning also generate information to fill in this blank, as well as providing myriad other insights to give a better understanding of where end users are struggling with the company’s systems and applications. A parallel benefit of DAPs, then, is that they improve and support data-driven strategic decision-making.
Talent leaders should consider, too, that if employees have a suboptimal relationship with the company’s technology this will negatively influence their engagement. The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting are symptoms of an enormous problem: lowly engaged or disengaged workforces cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. The reverse holds encouragingly true: companies having engaged employees achieve on average 14% productivity improvements and 23% better profitability than their peers.
A few simple sums will confirm why a DAP is a platform for productivity. Daily, 22 minutes is the average amount of time people spend at work trying to figure out how to actually use the applications they need to do aspects of their jobs. Not too much of a problem? It adds up: two hours a week, close to eight hours a month, 80-plus hours a year. That’s the equivalent of 10 working days for each employee. Do the maths applicable to the size of your workforce to understand the company’s particular overall loss of productivity.
Digital investment ROI: getting real
After years of updates, bolt-ons of extra applications that seemed worth the hype, and customisation, are your systems easily navigable and seamlessly integrated?
When complexity becomes overwhelming, people’s inclination is to resort to what they know best – the tried and trusted – and to simplify. This is partly, or occasionally, useful. But when it is an inertia-linked heuristic, simplification stifles change and can lead to poor outcomes. DAPs overcome this; rather than allowing users to take default options that bypass the potential gains within tools and applications, they help users navigate them and use them fully.
Remember, with advances in machine learning and AI, DAPs will get even more powerful. And the expansion of software technologies must be seen in the context of remote and hybrid workforces – a paradigm which requires new thinking about technology support for employees.
Maximising the usage of relevant technologies unleashes potential, and organisations in every industry and throughout the world are striving to stay competitive, or leverage further competitiveness, by embracing digital technologies. But if the company is serious about digital transformation – embedding a digitally adept and dextrous culture which gets all employees to progress towards digital maturity – then a Digital Adoption Platform will be far more effective than the CEO’s or CIO’s assertive, imploring email request.
Talk to LRMG to find the sweet spot for fusing talent and technologies, and see what it means for your organisation’s culture. We will be at the HR Summit on 13 September 2023, or contact us: +27 87 941 5764 www.lrmg.co.za
The LRMG group of companies offers a range of DAP solutions. For guidance on how to engineer, implement, or tailor a DAP that will accelerate your company’s digital transformation journey and empower your employees, contact Riyan Silochan at LRMG on RiyanS@lrmg.co.za or +27 87 941 5764