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The future of digital adoption platforms (DAPs) & the professionals who bring them to life

The future of digital adoption platforms (DAPs) & the professionals who bring them to life

monsterid
By Wayne McCulloch
Updated

Over a decade after WalkMe created the world’s first digital adoption platform (DAP), our CEO and Co-Founder Dan Adika announced to the world that the category had reached a tipping point. What began as helper bubbles on websites and applications in 2011 has given rise to a movement of some of the world’s most innovative companies investing in the digital employee experience to empower staff to do their best work and maximize the value and impact of technology investments. 

5 category milestones we reached in 2022

There is no doubt that 2022 was a watershed year for the DAP category. Five incredible milestones from this year include:

  1. Analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and Everest Group all have a dedicated analyst covering the category and have released reports on the space. 
  2. WalkMe officially established the last Thursday of every July as International DAP Professionals Day to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of those who work to enable the adoption of new technologies, ensuring the success of their companies’ digital investments while elevating digital experiences. 
  3. The first-ever entirely crowdsourced top 100 list of the world’s most innovative DAP professionals, the DAPP100, came to life. 
  4. WalkMe became the first federally-accredited digital adoption platform when it joined the UK government’s G-Cloud Digital Marketplace. 
  5. We took home five prestigious industry awards this past year, including InfoWorld’s Technology of the Year Award, which is a tremendous accomplishment for the DAP category.

Beyond category creation

A simple LinkedIn search will reveal that, at present, there are around sixteen thousand people with ‘digital adoption’ on their profiles. Many world changing ideas have led to companies that sparked a new market category, but not many of those companies give rise to an entirely new profession. I want to share my vision for the very near future of DAP, and so much of that future is in the hands of the individuals who take on the challenge of digital adoption at their organizations every day. 

The incredible innovations in the DAP category spearheaded by WalkMe can only be as meaningful as our customers and partners make them by bringing them to life at their organizations. The same is true for technology in general. The increasing importance of digital adoption teaches a very clear lesson: technology is only as good as people use it to be. 

The continued rise of the DAP professional  

We are entering the institutional era of the DAP space. It is no longer novel to have a digital adoption strategy and dedicated in-house or third party team using a DAP to help guide users to make better use of technology. Forward-thinking businesses will not only continue to look for digital adoption (DAP) professionals, but start to demand a higher level of expertise in the field. This is the natural evolution of every profession. 

The first software engineers surely enjoyed tremendous demand when they were the first few to offer their unique technical prowess, but once the profession grew, it was no longer enough to just be a software engineer. The best employers only want the best software engineers and the same will soon be true of the not-so-novel DAP professional. In 2023, the demand for both DAP professionals and the business results that a successful DAP strategy can bring will increase, which will engender an elite group of top DAP professionals. 

The career development opportunities for DAP professionals of a variety of specialities and cross-operational expertise are growing as businesses uncover their impact on their bottom lines. DAP professionals often go by other titles, ranging from Digital Adoption Lead, Digital Learning Manager, to Sales Enablement Manager, and more. We have witnessed distinct disciplines emerge within the DAP professional space and soon, I will be sharing our findings which will help focus individuals in the field with career growth and skill building. My advice to DAP professionals is to make your impact known by quantifying your digital adoption success not only in terms of end user behavior, but most importantly, business outcomes. Especially in times of economic volatility, demonstrating the positive effects of increased user adoption on business goals will continue to elevate the individual teams behind the metrics and continue to cement digital adoption as mission-critical. 

DAP certifications are a valuable resource available through the WalkMe Digital Adoption Institute for DAP professionals to upskill themselves, stay on top of industry trends, and generally stay ahead of the curve. Distinguishing oneself with certifications and hands-on experience will become increasingly important as competition grows within this young profession.  

Maximizing ROI from technology investments

Think about the value that software has when only a fraction of employees can fully use it as intended. The value is, of course, a fraction of what you hoped for. Now think of the business impact of having all of your employees fully able to utilize every piece of digital technology your company has invested in without having to take training sessions or contact your support team each time confusion arises. Instead, the on screen guidance of a DAP is always ready and able to help your employees do their best work at any hour of the day or night. Preemptively avoiding potholes and roadblocks to business processes large and small ends up greatly affecting output at scale. 

DAPs empower businesses to get more value from their existing technology investments. DAPs are on their way to becoming a critical component of how companies are managing their technology budget in 2023, if they aren’t already. Businesses will experience an increasing imperative to truly understand what they are investing in and hold themselves accountable for the ROI that these investments bring. The tool to provide the necessary scrutiny to determine the true ROI from these investments will be DAPs. This is because the analytics and insights provide a way to measure software usage as well as the ability to course-correct employee user behavior to drive business results. 

New ways of working are here to stay

The way we work has changed forever with the rise of remote and hybrid work. While no one knows for sure what the workplace will look like in the near future, I would bet it involves some degree of hybrid and remote work. This is good news for DAPs, as they are precisely the kind of technology that will continue to enable flexible work arrangements. Working in the middle of the night on an important project and having to use an application you don’t use often would ordinarily be a recipe for confusion, frustration, and wasted time, but DAPs custom user guidance is always there pushing work forward.  

The next chapter

The future of DAP is bright. WalkMe continues to patent innovative technology to make the impossible possible while a generation of DAP professionals matures into experts in the field. Together, we will reach new heights in 2023, and I can’t wait to be a part of it. 

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Wayne McCulloch
Wayne McCulloch is the Chief Customer Officer at WalkMe. Wayne is a customer-focused executive with 25+ years of experience leading global teams. He has an understanding of how customers succeed through superior Customer Experiences (CX) along their own journey. Wayne was recognized on the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists list for 2020 as voted by the Customer Success community.