Digital Transformation Caused Business’s Biggest Tech Problem

How businesses can regain control of their tech stack, streamline workflows, and holistically make more informed decisions in the future.

Adriel Sanchez, chief marketing officer at WalkMe, discovers how businesses can overcome Software Paralysis and optimize productivity using Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs).

Last year, worldwide spendingOpens a new window  on digital transformation was expected to hit about $1.6 trillion and, by 2026, reach $3.4 trillion. In the wake of economic uncertainty, some believe massive spending is slowly trending downward, and a new reality is upon us. 

We are living in the chaotic aftermath of digital transformation. 

The software-driven promises to business were many: increased revenue, improved operating margin, reduced risk, improved customer experience, improved employee experience, and the powering of innovation. All were said to be the rewards of digital transformation, but instead, we’re left holding a mixed bag of unintended consequences.

Tech sprawl is out of control. The shelf life and rate of software change feel impossible to keep up with. Buying is decentralized, creating disjointed user experiences and a lack of visibility into what tools the company has deployed. Competitors all have access to the same technology. Just owning that technology is no longer an advantage. At the same time, people are increasingly rejecting any digital experience that doesn’t live up to the frictionless experiences they get with Netflix and Alexa and in their personal lives.    

We’re confronted with a troubling paradox: Not only do we have more technology than ever before, but that technology is more powerful. After 20 years of digital transformation, a profound new problem has emerged, a problem that wasn’t there before: Software Paralysis, a state in which the excessive digital friction of working with software negatively impacts productivity and morale.

Paralyzed Workers and Wasted Money

Today’s worker is using 27 applications every week and is spending far too much time context-switching between those applications, according to The State of Digital Adoption Report, 2022 – 2023Opens a new window . That’s time that they’re not spending supporting customers and each other. And the quality of their application use varies wildly. The report also cited the American Productivity and Quality Center’s (APQC) Process Classification Framework, which asserts that the average company is running over 1900 business processes. Decision-makers are rightly worried that their digital transformation projects won’t be successful because people aren’t adopting technology fast enough or in the way expected. This level of friction is paralyzing. Well-designed business processes fall apart at the point of execution. The simplest tasks become complicated. Software goes unused. 

The consequences of this are real. Companies pay twice for technology: first in upfront licensing costs and then in the ripple effects of poor adoption. The average company with over 10,000 employees wastes $16 million every year on software that must be used. For others, wasted IT spending may be as much as 30%. Additionally, business risks increase because some workflows have critical legal or compliance implications, and 62% of enterprises are concerned that a lack of understanding of new applications is increasing those risks. Companies also pay when they lose talented but overwhelmed or disillusioned employees who simply check out as they hit a boiling point over not using their knowledge and skills for meaningful, rewarding work. The report finds that 61% of leaders say poor digital experiences will likely contribute to employee resignations. 

See More: IT Spending Expected To Rebound Amid Renewed Focus

Flawed Fixes and Failed Training

Most companies are attempting to address Software Paralysis through training, improving the software itself, and trying to solve problems individually as they arise. Doubling down on training often doesn’t work because most knowledge is lost when traditional training ends, and the infrequent use of applications makes training gains much less likely to stick. People don’t retain one-size-fits-all training, especially with outdated delivery modes that can hinder retention.

Software updates that offer incremental fixes for user experience only contribute to the fundamental issue that SaaS applications and business processes are constantly changing, which leads to a never-ending cycle of updates, training, and retraining. Even if a company replaces hard-to-use software in one part of a typical, multi-application workflow, they’ve only addressed a part of the larger problem. Software Paralysis results from digital friction that has gradually mounted over a long period. Even today, most organizations don’t have an organization-wide view of the problem, so they cannot tackle it holistically or at scale. 

See More: How UX Design Can Help Brands Thrive in the Metaverse

Regaining Control of the Tech Stack With a People-first Approach

New problems  (i.e., Software Paralysis) require new solutions. Ironically, it is software that can help, but a very particular kind that puts people first. Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) can be precisely that, as they offer three things. Indeed, Gartner estimates that by 2025, 70% of organizations will use a Digital Adoption Platform. 

First, you can’t solve a problem that you can’t see. Businesses need a single watchtower that can pinpoint all the digital friction in their organization that is leading to Software Paralysis and can identify the exact nature of that digital friction before it becomes a problem. Then, it’s vital to resolve that friction by taking a people-first approach to designing beautiful, consistent experiences across an organization and optimizing for what your teams need to achieve—not for how the software works. This is key. People should not be forced to adjust to the eccentricities of dozens of applications; workflows must be designed in a way that helps people get the job done without the digital friction that so often gets in the way. Third, a good DAP isn’t just about solving a current problem. It must help manage the constant change that’s become the enterprise norm.

The goal is that time-to-value on software should be measured in weeks rather than years, as a critical mass of users adopt that software quickly. Organizational risks should be reduced as a company successfully manages points of failure that lead to compliance errors and security breaches. Productivity should spike as people are freed from the busy work of digital friction and can get back to innovating or serving customers and each other. Employee engagement can soar as people make the most of their talent and knowledge against meaningful, rewarding work.

Very importantly, by ending Software Paralysis with a powerful DAP, businesses can regain control of their tech stack. That enables them to make better, more informed decisions in the future about the software they buy and how it’s used to create better business processes and better outcomes. 

The following   Adriel Sanchez from 2023 provides their research perspective. HERE

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