What is a Digital Adoption Platform Anyway?

So what is a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) or Digital Adoption Solution (DAS)? We get that question a lot!

In fact, we’ve even received it from some respected thought leaders in the tech space. Not everyone knows what a DAP/DAS is in 2021.  However, Gartner projects that 70% of organizations will be utilizing a DAP/DAS by 2025. Digital Adoption Platforms may not be a part of your life at present, but we’re likely to be a part of your future.

So what exactly is a Digital Adoption Platform

Digital Adoption Platforms are “Overlay solutions that help users learn and adopt the underlying software in real time,” explains Sharath Hari, the DAP Practice Leader at Everest Group. A Digital Adoption Platform allows for the user (customer or employee) to enjoy a better and more productive web or software learning experience.

Digital Adoption Platforms are designed to provide learning experiences that are low on friction and high on guidance. Common use cases for DAPs include Support, Onboarding, Adoption, and Retention (which we like to group as “SOAR”). DAPs are applicable for sites, software and applications.  In addition, Digital Adoption Platforms can be used to cure a businesses’ pain points, especially with Customer Churn, Ticket Deflection and Employee Training.

Ziplyne Digital Adoption Platform

DAPs: Encouraging Users to Return. Not Churn!

Most of us believe in our products and our optimistic about their success. Statistics show that up to 60% of users who sign up for a free software product trial use it once and then never again.

Moreover, over 90% of customers feel that the companies they buy from ‘could do better’ with onboarding new users/customers.  And the negative effects of church can stretch far beyond lost revenue.   Churn can raise your advertising/marketing costs, damage your business image/reputation and even have a negative effect on your overall valuation.

Churn happens for many reasons, some more easily fixable than others.  Sometimes the UI is too confusing.  In other cases, the onboarding process is necessarily long and the user gets frustrated. Yet in others, the instructions/guidance simply does not translate well via PDFs, Videos, or Manuals.

But what if there was a way to guide users in a real-time step-by-step process?   What if we were able to instantly measure which parts of the process were most effective?  What if this process could be created, managed and updated by any person or team member regardless of whether they had any coding background?  If this were the case then any content tweaks could be made instantly with no delays due to IT lag. These are the possibilities enabled by the world of Digital Adoption Platforms!

Real-Time Adoption, Long Term Retention

One of the keys to Digital Adoption Platforms is their versatility.  Nobody achieves 100% retention rates and everyone can do better. Yes, DAPs benefit the large SaaS platform looking to help their users navigate a complex onboarding process via in-app guidance.  Digital Adoption Platforms can be useful for enterprises that needs a better way to push users to fill out a mundane, but necessary form. And often that form to be filled may mark the location on the customer journey where churn has been known to occur.

Digital Solutions can solve adoption pain points for companies of all sizes and across virtually every vertical.  But of course, adoption means nothing without retention.  Yes, in-app guidance benefits companies by reducing churn. Digital Adoption Platforms also benefit enterprises by helping make their UI friendly and comfortable for users, fostering an experience they want to return repeatedly. To cite one of our Ziplyne credos: “Real-time Adoption, Long Term Retention!”

Ticket Deflection

Customer service can make or break a business.  As Elvis Costello famously sang, “Accidents Will Happen.” And when accidents happen, the customer expects the company to fix them fast!

When it comes to customer service tickets, a Digital Adoption Platform can benefit both the company and the user. DAPs enable additional self-service by allowing the user to more easily troubleshoot the issue themselves and/or better illustrate their individual pain point. The end result: Fewer tickets, quicker resolutions and less frustration!

The Digital Adoption Platform reduces the need for customer service overhead while increasing customer satisfaction (which will almost definitely lead to increased customer retention). But let’s not underestimate the benefit to the users here.  In addition to providing the user with an easier and less frustrating path, digital solutions also provide a sense of empowerment and satisfaction. Sometimes the greatest feeling in the world comes from solving a problem oneself.

The emotional benefits of self-service are real. The better users feel about themselves while engaging with the product, the more positive they are likely to feel towards the underlying product itself. Creating brand loyalty is an integral part of any product success formula and  Digital Adoption Platforms play key roles in that equation.

Employee Training

As important as Digital Adoption Platforms are for improving the Customer Experience (CX) of 2021, they play as big a role (if not bigger) in maximizing the Employee Experience (EX) of today. EX is both tricky and crucial.  In 2021, we expect (and in many ways need) our employees to be multi-tasking superheroes. Previously employees could expect to be in the same working environment for decades and using the same tools throughout much of their career.

Today’s employees need to be lifelong learners. Each new job may require the mastering of multiple new software systems, unique to the role. And it may not matter how well they know SAP if their new employer requires them to master Salesforce (or vice-versa).  It is the responsibility of employers to provide the best possible training guides and tools even if we expect platform-wide proficiency from employees. In fact, this is essential if one wants to ensure team success.

Obsolete Content After One Update? Not With A Digital Adoption Platform

Gone are the days when software comes with a training manual (and really, that manual was always of limited use anyway). Video Tutorials and LMSs have their places but each have their limitations. In fact, it can take up to near 700 development hours to create 1 hr of effective corporate training content. Content that can become obsolete with just one update.

Digital Adoption Platforms allow for flexibility, enabling enterprises to tailor training to individual teams. DAPs provide guidance within the application itself. This results in employees being able to learn and retain the needed information more effectively since they are processing lessons from within the platform.

Digital Adoption Platforms also provide user-journey analytics which is helpful in identifying the specific steps in need of additional clarity. The steps can then be near-instantly tweaked. As a result, the process is effective and matches the underlying goals of the company, employee, and team.

Citigroup: The $500 Million Lesson of Why Clarity in UI Matters!

To paraphrase a common adage (with an interesting yet uncertain origin), “Sometimes the Best Offense is a Good Defense!” As much as in-app guidance is about maximizing ROI, productivity, employee satisfaction, and profits, it is also about risk management. Often it’s small things that prevent larger (and more expensive) mistakes and problems later.   “Hyperbole,” you say? Ask Citigroup!

No User Interface (UI) is perfect: Not ours, yours or anyone else’s! And certainly not any of the myriad of business applications often used by a single enterprise. Earlier this year, a confusing UI was misread and resulted in Citigroup losing nearly $500 Million in mistaken, non-recoupable payments. As many observers have noted, better in-app guidance could likely have prevented the costly error.

A Digital Adoption Platform may not be the panacea for every problem but, if used properly, they can serve as a fantastic, enterprise risk-management solution. Moreover, a Digital Adoption Platform can breed both confidence and calm for the entire team.

A Solution For The Post-COVID Workforce

It’s tempting to associate the Digital Adoption Platform with the COVID-19 and “Work From Home” eras. The reality is that DAPs and Digital Solutions were already a growing category in 2019.  Even as we look forward to vaccination and a return to normalcy, DAPs are poised to become more ubiquitous in years to come. Remember, Gartner predicts that 70% of organizations will be utilizing a DAS by 2025.

A report from McKinsey & Company suggests the up to 70% of Digital Transformation initiatives fail to reach their stated goals.  Writing in Forbes Magazine, Fidelity’s Deba Sahoo notes that improving user journeys can go a long way towards bucking this trend. Digital Transformation that began pre-COVID and accelerated in the last year is showing no signs of slowing. Much is unknown about the workplace of tomorrow. However, this much is clear: Companies that are able to deliver the best CX and EX will be in a prime position to succeed.

A “Must Have”

Just a few years ago, many managers utilizing the MoSCoW method would likely have Digital Adoption Platforms in the “Could Have” Basket. Pre-COVID momentum had more and more companies prioritizing DAPs as “Should Have.” We have now reached the tipping point where a critical mass of enterprises are realizing that a Digital Adoption Platform is a “Must Have.”

Ziplyne is proud to be playing a role in helping companies improve their CX and EX. Learn more here about the ways Ziplyne help your enterprise reduce customer churn, deflect tickets and improve your overall employee training experience. The UI Terrain of 2021 may appear intimidating at first glance, but it really doesn’t have to be.

Let us be your Guide On The Side!


Ziplyne is a Digital Adoption Platform catering to enterprises looking to optimize the User Experience for their Customers and/or Employees. Initially incubated in the Social Innovation Lab at the Johns Hopkins University, Ziplyne is your “Guide On The Side” for maximizing Software Onboarding, Adoption, Training, and Retention.

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