Digital Adoption and Enablement: Definitions and Differences

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In the age of cloud computing, remote work, and constant change, it’s common to hear about the concept of digital transformation. The term seems to be everywhere and has many components to it.

Digital transformation is the process through which a company integrates with technology to create a new way of conducting business. This can mean new ways of interacting with customers, prospects, other businesses, and their employees. It can also mean new operational processes and compliance policies.

Digital transformation is necessary in today’s corporate world. Without it, companies will fail to innovate and move with the times, and they may even fail completely. It’s so important that most businesses are putting digital transformation at the forefront of their plans.

This type of change can look simple on the surface. However, there are many factors affecting whether digital transformation will be successful. The two main components are digital adoption and digital enablement.

The two terms may sound similar, but they are two distinct concepts. Both are vital to successful digital transformation. When taken together, any changes made are more likely to improve the customer, potential customer and employee experience. Most of all, these changes can generate a positive return on investment for an entire organization.

Digital Adoption and Enablement: Two sides of the same coin

Digital adoption and digital enablement may be similar concepts, but they have some differences that must be taken into account. Digital transformation can be thought of as a coin. When it’s made correctly, it has two sides and has value.

If one side is missing, then the coin is useless. It will get a business nothing back if used. In fact, the coin might get set aside at the factory before it can even go out into the world.

One side of that coin is digital adoption. The other side is digital enablement. One needs the other in order for digital transformation to be successful.

Digital adoption

Digital adoption is the use of new technology to perform new processes, boost productivity, improve customer and potential customer relations, and ensure legal compliance. More importantly, it is the ability of a company to use new digital tools to the fullest extent.

In true digital adoption, workers and leaders use new technology to the fullest extent for the most benefit that they can. When this happens, a positive return on investment can follow. Full adoption paves the way for a boost in profits, workflow efficiency, and employee and external relations.

Digital adoption is the “heads” of the coin that is digital transformation, and the part that people see first.

However, the corporate world is far from perfect, and there are always barriers to real technology adoption. These same barriers can stop employees from being productive and can lead to worse outcomes.

Resistance to change is always a problem, and so is the need for constant training to use new software applications. The cost of that training can quickly spiral out of control if a digital adoption solution is not found. This leads to frustration for all and no return on investment.

With the right learning system, however, it’s possible to overcome these barriers. Lightweight, contextual learning management solutions are able to help any company achieve full digital adoption of new tools and processes. Once this happens, improved profits, customer relations, and other benefits can follow. This is where digital enablement comes in.

Digital enablement

Digital enablement is vital to the success of digital adoption, and by extension, to the success of digital transformation. It can be seen as the “tails” of the coin.

Digital enablement is the method used to achieve full digital adoption. In other words, it is the way employees and company leaders will learn how to use new technology and take full advantage of it. Basically, digital enablement solutions offer all the tools needed to onboard new employees and train workers in new processes and policies.

Contextual learning solutions that are part of larger digital adoption and enablement platforms provide a way to better train employees. They can help an entire organization create new digital services, experiences, and connections. These platforms can also help employees learn how to use new software, perform new processes, and comply with new policies. Ultimately, they help companies take full advantage of digital adoption initiatives, including associated shifts in technology.

But digital enablement includes more than training and the solution used to onboard new employees. An effective digital enablement strategy should also include lightweight, contextual learning in order to help workers learn how to fully use new technology with the greatest ease possible.

Most training today has flaws. Learning tends to come in the form of spaced training sessions, and as a consequence, employees often need a lot of time to learn how to fully use new tools and technology. These time gaps in digital enablement can equate to a company struggling to keep up with a changing market.

This is why the right type of digital enablement is important. This aspect of digital transformation should not be ignored. The good news is that contextual, lightweight learning can go a long way towards success. It does this by tackling the flaws present in traditional training.

Employees need to have help and training available right where they need it and right when they need it, too. Only then can digital enablement help workers and company leaders realize the promise of a digital adoption strategy and plan.

In order to understand how such lightweight, flexible learning can help, it’s important to know the type of obstacles that often stand in the way of success.

Overcoming the obstacles

Of course, there are always obstacles to change, and therefore digital transformation. Many people are resistant to change, often due to the difficulty and the discomfort involved. This means most organizations will take some time to accomplish digital adoption plans. Resistance to change is a large problem many company leaders face today.

Retaining large blocks of new information at once is also difficult for most people. After standard training sessions, employees can lose up to 70% of what was learned in just a few days. Making this problem worse is the fact that with digital innovation and transformation, the need for constant training is always present. This can lead to not one, but many learning curves at once, along with employee frustration.

The rise of remote work can also make employee training and reinforcement of that training difficult. This can add a relatively new hurdle when it comes to true digital transformation, and handling both sides of the coin.

Using contextual, lightweight learning for success

However, contextual, lightweight learning management solutions are capable of overcoming many of these obstacles. It can also fill the digital adoption platform gaps that arise with standard types of training. These solutions lead to effective digital enablement, which in turn leads to full digital adoption.

It allows trainers to insert training directly where needed, across a variety of applications that employees use daily. Training can even be inserted into typical mission-critical tools for sales enablement, such as Salesforce, that helps drive faster revenue production. When this happens, employees no longer have to switch in and out of programs to find the help that they need. This elimination of “context switching” lets teams and organizations as a whole move faster.

Using lightweight, contextual learning for digital enablement can cut down on the time and cost needed to onboard new employees. New hires can start working right away with help, training, and reinforcement appearing right in the applications they’re using. This help can apply directly to a specific situation such as how to approach a new sales situation in a given industry, eliminating the need for time-wasting internal support.

New and senior employees alike can also use this same software to learn changing digital processes on the go. This means that the need for meetings and costly training sessions is reduced. Lightweight, contextual training, along with the larger digital adoption and enablement platform it is typically a part of, should be easy to implement and maintain. It should also be versatile, adapting to new transformation and enablement needs.

The benefits of true digital transformation are countless. The right type of enablement can lead to quicker and easier digital adoption. These benefits include better customer relations and increased profits by as much as 34%. With the right strategy, plan and platform, employee comfort with new changes can improve, and resistance to change can drop.

Employees can benefit greatly from this type of digital enablement. This is because it is given in small, digestible bits rather than in large blocks that are hard to remember. Training appears right where employees need it, in the flow of work. Leaders can also send notifications to an entire company or workgroup at once about process changes and other important events.

As a result, skill gaps can be addressed. A company that can learn how to use new processes and platforms effectively can improve both profits and external relations. Employee satisfaction can also improve, especially when they are given the chance to play a meaningful role in true digital transformation.

Embracing digital transformation today

The first step to being successful with digital transformation is to understand its two main parts: digital adoption and digital enablement. True digital adoption can only happen when new platforms and processes are fully implemented. Then, revenue will increase, customers will be happier, and employees will find more satisfaction with their jobs. This allows for a maximum return on investment from your digital transformation plans.

If you’re ready for digital transformation success, chat with us today.

About the author

Melanie Fellay
CEO & Co-founder
Mel is a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, a Top 100 Female Entrepreneur to Watch, and has been featured across Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and more.
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