How to pick the right digital adoption solution

Written by Adrian Nestico  | 

8 min


The workplace is a different environment today than it was just 18 months ago. Whether you’re working from home or back in the office, it’s likely that the day-to-day of getting things done requires what can feel like an ever-growing collection of software.

When companies invest in new digital tools, the learning curve for employees can be steep, with new business-critical processes and behaviors to learn. Ultimately, when employees don’t adopt the software they’re supposed to use, it can chip away at productivity, efficiency, and even employee happiness. 

So how do you ensure your software investments are adopted successfully? 

To ensure success in our increasingly digital workplace, companies are turning to digital adoption solutions. At their core, digital adoption solutions deliver training right where work happens, through walkthroughs and self-service resources that live inside the applications we use to get work done. 

But when it comes to ensuring employees actually adopt important software tools, it’s crucial to ensure you’re not flying blind. You can’t just rely on in-app guides alone. When investing in a digital adoption solution, the ability to reliably deliver in-app training is foundational, but it’s just as important to understand the role your chosen solution plays in other key jobs to be done. 

Here are five things to keep in mind when evaluating digital adoption solutions:

1. Understand how work happens

The most successful digital adoption initiatives take a data-driven approach. The sheer number of features in the average piece of enterprise software can be enough to make your head spin, but chances are you don’t need a walkthrough for every process or a guide for every button. 

Instead, effectively improving adoption is about optimizing select key workflows to ensure new employees onboard successfully and you see a reduction in support tickets. Making an impact in the right places is key because when employees are bombarded by too many in-app guides, they tend to stop paying attention and training loses its effectiveness. 

How do you know where training is actually needed? It starts with being data informed. The Pendo digital adoption solution is equipped with rich behavioral analytics that track how your employees use software on a feature-specific level. 

Having an underlying foundation in data ensures you avoid filling applications with unnecessary guides, since you’ll be able to identify precisely where training will make the biggest impact. As part of our data-driven approach to digital adoption, Pendo surfaces the most frequent paths employees take once they log into an application and identifies common points of friction and drop off.  

Taking a data-driven approach to digital adoption goes one step further when you personalize the guidance each employee receives based on their experience with the software they are using. By segmenting employees based on what they have and have not done in an application and then delivering targeted messaging accordingly, you can be sure walkthroughs are effective by only delivering training that employees actually need.

2. Drive solution governance and compliance

Taking a data-driven approach to digital adoption can play an even bigger role when it comes to maintaining internal governance. While it’s important that in-app walkthroughs help employees adopt software, it’s equally crucial to be able to measure whether employees are using the tools provided to them correctly in the first place. 

In some cases, when employees don’t use software appropriately, performance slips and KPI’s go unmet. In extreme examples, breaches in software compliance can mean fines, or even jail time. No matter your industry, though, it’s crucial to be able to monitor how employees are using the software, not just that they’re logging in. 

With the backing of rich behavioral tracking, Pendo makes it easy to ensure employees are staying on top of required tasks. Pendo was purpose-built to govern internal software usage–across one or multiple applications–with a single tool. In Pendo, highly configurable custom dashboards enable you to monitor and govern your digital adoption strategy at a glance, not just based on how often employees log in, but whether they’re completing the crucial tasks that show work is getting done.

3. Capture the voice of the employee

Most digital adoption strategies are full of one-way communication. You provide training to your employees on how to best leverage the software you provide, but how do you ensure you’re providing that training effectively? Digital adoption strategies are rarely successful when they don’t capture the voice of the employee. 

The most common place to start is by collecting qualitative insights using in-app polls and surveys. Polls and surveys are a great way to ask for employees’ feedback and iterate on your digital adoption strategy, but if left unchecked they often result in a black hole of feedback

Put another way: Sure, you asked employees for their thoughts, but what are you going to do about it? And how can you communicate back to employees that their feedback was heard? 

Pendo’s digital adoption solution goes beyond multiple choice polls and open text surveys by providing a dedicated feedback management system to help capture and understand the voice of the employee. 

A dedicated feedback management system enables users to proactively share their thoughts on digital adoption improvements or ways to make the underlying application better. Pendo can also tailor in-app training to certain users based on the ideas they’ve shared. And if you plan to make changes based on what you’ve heard from your employees, Pendo keeps them informed and communicates updates back to employees to let them know their voice has been heard.

4. Quantify training impact

Providing in-app walkthroughs and training resources is one thing. But the most effective digital adoption solutions enable you to actually quantify the impact your digital adoption strategy is having on behavior change. 

Whether it’s measuring support ticket reduction tied to a problematic workflow, or simply calculating how much less time employees spend on a crucial process now that you’ve built an in-app walkthrough, Pendo provides robust analytics to help quantify the impact and cost savings of in-app training. 

In addition to measuring the downstream effects of the guides you create, Pendo also enables you to conduct guide experiments that directly measure the impact of a user seeing a guide on completing certain tasks and workflows. When selecting a digital adoption partner, it’s crucial to look for a solution that helps validate the impact you make with it.

5. Get up and running fast 

If you’ve read this far, there’s a good chance you’re acutely aware of the pain of successfully adopting enterprise software. Digital adoption solutions are seeing incredible growth because they help solve very real problems, but how can you be sure a digital adoption solution itself will be any different? After all, it’s just another piece of enterprise software that your company needs to successfully adopt. 

Some of the most popular digital adoption solutions on the market are themselves difficult to adopt because of steep learning curves, bloated interfaces, and weeks of required consultations with professional services teams. When digital adoption solutions aren’t adopted properly, all too often they turn into shelfware, exacerbating the very problem they were designed to solve. 

Though not a job to be done by your digital adoption solution, when evaluating your options it’s hugely important to partner with a vendor that will lead you to success and offers a solution that is intuitive and easy to use. That’s why Pendo was designed to be easy for anyone to use–no matter their role or level of technical expertise. 

The Pendo UI offers a streamlined experience, giving administrators everything they need right in one place, unlike other digital adoption solutions that require constant toggle switching between separate tools. And more importantly than the tool itself, Pendo is deeply invested in acting as a consultative partner and setting our customers up for success. We take a train-the-trainer approach to customer implementation, ensuring that clients truly understand how to maximize the value that Pendo provides, and are up and running in a matter of weeks, not months. 

If you’re focused on ensuring employees adopt and use software effectively, there’s a good chance you’re already considering a digital adoption solution to help with these efforts. The most effective digital adoption solutions enable you to take an informed approach and are optimized for usability, because a digital adoption solution should never become what it was designed to prevent: just another expensive piece of shelfware.