Digital Adoption vs. Change Management

Digital Adoption vs. Change Management: What Do They Have In Common?

Everyone today is talking about digital adoption. It’s the knowledge to have up your sleeve in the world of business enterprise.

A couple of decades ago, that was change management.  

Everyone was talking about it. And in 2005, the innovators of the discipline started working to embed change management as a core capability in their organizations. Now, every global enterprise has a change management function.

But is change management still relevant today? Or will it been replaced by its newer, techie cousin, digital adoption?

When it comes to digital adoption vs. change management, who will win in the digital revolution?

To answer this question, we need to look at what these disciplines are, what they have in common, and how each can help the other achieve their goals.

What is digital adoption?

Technology per se is not the key to succeeding in the digital revolution. Adoption is.

Rephael Sweary, President of WalkMe explains:

“[Digitization] efforts are in vain if your employees don’t adequately engage and adopt these technologies.”  

In a nutshell, without successful adoption, your enterprise’s digital transformation efforts will fail.

Ok, so what is digital adoption? It’s defined by WalkMe as:

“Achieving a state in which digital tools are being used as intended, and to their fullest extent.”

It’s not simply about having digital tools to use. It’s about using them most effectively. If you’re not fully leveraging your digital assets, are they really assets at all?

Let’s say you’re handling your social media marketing in-house, so you have a social media management tool.

You use the tool to schedule your updates, but that’s about it. You don’t monitor keywords, save time with automation, or collaborate with other team members within the platform. In this instance, digital adoption has not been met.

Here’s another example. You’re a sandwich shop and you’ve created a new app for your customers. They can use the app to build loyalty points, enter competitions, and even place an order for lunchtime collection.

These features not only create a better customer experience (CX), but they also help the sandwich shop by allowing it to serve more people in a day. But these benefits are only experienced if their customers fully adopt the app.

Bear with us; all this will help to explain digital adoption vs. change management as we go on.

What is change management?

Generally, there are two meanings for change management.

  1. The management of change at an organizational level
  2. The management of changes within an IT system (often referred to as ITIL change management)

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. A set of IT service management best practices, it provides a framework for IT professionals to implement changes efficiently.

It’s a process whereby IT problems can be resolved. It is not a people process. It’s a systems process. More on this later.

Global change management firm Prosci defines change management (type 1) as follows:

“Change management is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.”

So when it comes to digital adoption vs. change management, we’re now starting to see some synergy. After all, Prosci uses the word “adopt” in their definition.  

Digital adoption vs. change management

Because of the word “digital”, you might think that digital adoption has more in common with ITIL change management. But you would be wrong.

ITIL change management deals with incremental changes to a computer system. Digital adoption, on the other hand, is a people driven process that often requires significant cultural change at an organizational level.

John Chambers, Cisco Exec Chairman, predicts that 40% of businesses will die within 10 years. That’s unless they can change their company’s makeup to accommodate new technologies.

Enterprises must create a culture that embraces digital change because the digital revolution is far from over.

So as far as digital adoption vs. change management is concerned: organizational change management teams must prioritize digital adoption in order to survive; and CIOs should use change management principles to take a user-focused approach to their digital adoption.

In summary

“The future of business favors tech-heavy processes, and businesses that fail to adapt to the digital world will fall behind.”

Manish Dudharejia, business.com

While what Manish Dudharejia says is true, enterprises that focus purely on the development of “tech-heavy processes” will fail to achieve ROI. That is unless they also address the people side of making those changes.

Organizations are only ever as good as their people. Employees that are frustrated or overwhelmed by digital change will not be productive.

Enterprises must take an approach whereby digital adoption and change management are disciplines that work together to achieve digital transformation.     

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