Thu Jul 04 2024, Marek Sotak

Digital Adoption Platforms Explained: Benefits, Features, and Top Choices

(TL;DR: They’re Awesome. If You Found This Post, You Probably Need One)


Scenario: You just spent a million bucks and months of implementation on the latest magical software solution that will change everything forever and promises to create a magic money funnel that rains profits and ROI for centuries.

Possible Issue 1: Your team has no idea how to use it. No worries, says the vendor, we can set up a training program for you quickly and easily that you will have absolutely no control over and it will only cost many thousands of dollars more.

Possible Issue 2: The software vendor offers you a complicated training manual that is English only, even though half of your multilingual global staff have only intermediate English skills and cannot understand it. And even if they were all native speakers — nobody reads manuals!

Possible Issue 3: You pay for the expensive training program and when you do a survey of the users 6 months later, you find out they are using only 15 percent of the awesome time and money saving functions you’ve paid for and are still paying for.


In an industry devoted to innovation and problem solving, it’s no surprise that some smart people looked at the above scenarios and came up with a good solution. Organizations have always faced the challenge of making sure their employees and customers can effectively use new technologies and that’s where Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) come into play. But what exactly is a DAP, and why has it become so crucial in recent years?

A Digital Adoption Platform is a software layer that sits on top of other digital tools and applications, providing interactive guidance, training, and support to users in real-time. The concept of DAPs emerged in the early 2010s as a response to the growing complexity of enterprise software and the need for more efficient onboarding and training methods.

The importance of DAPs in numerous industries today is hard to overstate. As businesses digitally transform, the successful adoption of new technologies is critical for maintaining competitiveness and efficiency. According to a recent study by McKinsey, 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to reach their goals, quite often because of poor user adoption. DAPs help meet this challenge by significantly improving user experience and speeding up the adoption of new digital tools.

The total impact of DAPs on business efficiency is, in a word, big. A report by Forrester Research found that organizations using DAPs had a 75% reduction in training costs and a 50% decrease in support tickets. These stats highlight the huge potential effect of DAPs on cost-savings and productivity.

The Fundamentals

To understand the power and usefulness of Digital Adoption Platforms, let’s take a look at their core features:

1. In-App Guidance

DAPs excel at providing contextual help through tooltips, walkthroughs, and step-by-step guides. For example, when a user accesses a new feature in a CRM system, a DAP can offer real-time guidance on how to use it effectively.

2. Analytics and Reporting

DAPs offer robust analytics capabilities, tracking user behavior and providing insights into how digital tools are being used. This data helps organizations identify areas for improvement and optimize their digital strategies.

3. User Onboarding

Customized onboarding flows and interactive training modules enable new users to quickly become proficient with complex software. For instance, a DAP might guide a new employee through the process of submitting their first expense report in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

4. Content Creation and Management

DAPs typically include user-friendly interfaces for creating and managing guidance content. This allows organizations to easily update and maintain their training materials as software evolves.

5. Integration with Existing Systems

Most DAPs are designed to seamlessly integrate with popular enterprise software and platforms, ensuring a smooth implementation process.

Go Big or Stay Simple?

Enterprise vs. SME Solutions

Large enterprises often require more complex DAP solutions with advanced features like multi-language support and extensive customization options. In contrast, SMEs might opt for simpler, more cost-effective solutions that focus on core functionalities.

Industry-Specific DAPs

Healthcare: DAPs designed for electronic health record (EHR) systems to improve clinical workflow efficiency.

Finance: Platforms optimized for banking and investment software to ensure regulatory compliance.

Education: DAPs tailored for learning management systems (LMS) to enhance student engagement.

Retail: Solutions focused on point-of-sale (POS) systems and inventory management software.

Manufacturing: DAPs designed for complex ERP and supply chain management systems.

DAP Real-World Results

1. Increased Software ROI

DAPs help organizations maximize the value of their existing software investments. LMC, which offers online products for job searching, HR processes, and education, uses Inline Manual’s DAP to deliver a personalized product experience within Teamio - a recruitment application for HR professionals. They significantly improved customer satisfaction and feature adoption for nearly 18,000 users.

2. Enhanced Productivity

By streamlining workflows and reducing the learning curve for new software, DAPs significantly boost productivity. For example, KUKA, a global automation corporation, cut process training time by 50% and improved process conformity by 40%.

3. Improved User Experience

Personalized guidance and reduced frustration lead to higher user satisfaction. A case study by Whatfix showed that after implementing their DAP, Sentry Insurance, one of the largest mutual insurance companies in the U.S. reduced support tickets by almost 40% while raising their CSAT score to 99.5%.

4. Cost Savings

Lower training costs and reduced support tickets translate to significant savings. SynerTrade, a leading European provider of Digital Procurement software was able to lower training expenses by 60% and cut the number of support tickets by 40%.

Who’s On Top?

Several DAP providers have emerged as leaders in the market. Here’s a brief overview of some of the top platforms:

1. Inline Manual

Key features: Known for its user-friendly interface and powerful content creation tools, its key features include AI-powered content creation, multi-language support, customizable walkthroughs, real-time analytics, and seamless integration with popular software platforms.

Customer success: Doccle, an interactive application for handling documents used Inline Manual to improve product experience by providing on-demand, contextual help, and personalized messages. Using IM’s, pop-up modals and launchers, 99% of the target users added a new eBox feature to their accounts — their highest ever adoption rate.

2. Whatfix

Key features: Contextual guidance, robust integration capabilities, mobile app support

Customer success: Experian saw a 50% reduction in support tickets and a 72% increase in productivity using Whatfix for their CRM system.

3. WalkMe

Key features: Extensive customization options, AI-driven insights, cross-platform support

Customer success: After their collaboration, Nestle had a $30M+ inferred financial productivity gains over a rolling 12-month period and 1.5M+ productivity hours returned to the business.

4. Pendo

Key features: Product analytics, in-app messaging, user feedback collection

Customer success: provides comprehensive security solutions for consumers and businesses and after implementing Pendo’s DAP saw a 25% reduction in average support call duration and an 88% reduction in time partners spend navigating the call menu.

5. Userlane

Key features: No-code interface, GDPR compliance, interactive simulations

Customer success: Deutsche Bahn had a 2x increase in ROI of software implementation 5x increase in employee effectiveness using WalkMe’s DAP solution.

What To Look Out For

“Employees need to understand why [the new technology] is an improvement from what they had before, the job is to help people cross the bridge, to get them comfortable with the technology, to get them using it, and to help them understand how it makes their lives better.” (HBR)

Didier Bonnet, expert and co-author of Leading Digital

Common Pitfalls:

Strategy: Implementing a DAP without a well-defined plan can lead to poor adoption.

Resistance: Employees may be hesitant to use new tools or follow guided workflows.

Training: Inadequate training on how to use the DAP itself can hinder its effectiveness.

Solutions and Best Practices:

Prepare: Develop a comprehensive digital adoption strategy aligned with business goals.

Persuade: Engage stakeholders early and get buy-in from leadership and end-users.

Support: Provide continuous user training and support, including how to get the most out of the DAP.

Getting Better All The Time

As technology evolves, so do Digital Adoption Platforms. Here are some emerging trends to watch:

1. AI and Machine Learning Integration

DAPs are increasingly incorporating AI to provide more intelligent and personalized guidance. For example, Inline Manual’s Explain This is one of the most advanced AI-powered, in-app contextual help tools on the market today. When users encounter something unclear within the application, they can use Explain This to get detailed explanations or additional information about that specific feature or data point. It’s designed to provide immediate clarity without the need for the user to search through external help documents.

2. Predictive Analytics

Advanced DAPs are beginning to use AI-driven predictive analytics to anticipate user needs and behaviors, allowing for proactive support and personalized learning paths.

3. Voice-Activated Assistance

Integration of voice commands is on the horizon, promising to make DAPs even more user-friendly and accessible.

The Right DAP for You?

Key Considerations:

Organizational needs and goals: Identify specific pain points and objectives for digital adoption.

Budget and ROI expectations: Consider both upfront costs and long-term value.

Integration capabilities: Ensure compatibility with your existing tech stack.

Vendor Comparison Checklist:

Feature requirements: Match platform capabilities to your specific needs.

Customer support and service: Evaluate the level of ongoing support provided.

User reviews and case studies: Look for success stories in your industry.

Trial and demonstration options: Always test-drive before committing.

In A Nutshell

Digital Adoption Platforms have become a must for organizations dealing with the complexities of digital transformation. With on-demand tools providing contextual guidance and valuable insights, onboarding is simplified, and feature adoption and customer satisfaction increase dramatically. In short, DAPs improve user experience and productivity while reducing support costs — you can’t ask for much more than that right? With the continued evolution of AI and predictive analytics in the sector, the future of DAPs looks even brighter.

For organizations considering the implementation of a DAP, focus on careful planning, stakeholder engagement, and selecting a solution that aligns with specific business needs.

So, take a look around and explore the DAP options available and how they might benefit your organization. A great place to start would be to schedule a free demo of Inline Manual’s DAP with a personalized walk-through of its many, many features so that you can see for yourself the incredible benefits it can bring. We can even set up a Proof of Concept (POC) based on your specific requirements to demonstrate how it can lower training time, increase productivity and boost user satisfaction.

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