2022 – What’s Next, and Why Will Digital Adoption Be So Important?

Simon Blunn, VP and General Manager EMEA at WalkMe, discusses UX, tech stacks, patience, and a lot more.

2021 was a banner year for IT for many reasons – some good, others very much the opposite. As we head into 2022, it’s clear some things will stay the same: organisations will need to continue investing in digital transformation, and reacting to ever-changing global pressures.

However, other things need to change – and change soon. A lot of enterprises are on the cusp of realising they need completely change their ways of understanding how they, and their employees, operate.

For instance, are users truly getting the experience they need (or deserve)? Are prospective (or existing) employees attracted by a fancy head office with all mod cons, or have expectations changed? Are digital investments providing their full ROI? Do employees actually want to stay with the business? And, in an increasingly hybrid world, do enterprises even have the right priorities?

Understanding these tectonic shifts, and successfully navigating them, will be crucial. A fundamental part of balancing technology, transformation and the user experience is digital adoption; ensuring employees can actually make the most of the tools put in front of them. But what does this mean for businesses in 2022?

The Rebirth of User Experience

User experience has been a watchword for organisations and software vendors for many years, but often the reality hasn’t measured up to the promise. In trying to provide the best experience to organisations with hundreds or thousands of users, most software has taken a one-size-fits-all approach: offering a UI, functionality and help that is aimed at pleasing most of the people, most of the time. However, this inevitably involves compromises and frustrations for almost every user – as always, trying to please everyone results in pleasing no-one.

In 2022, we’ll see a renaissance in user experience, as modern technology allows us to create an experience that is tailored to the individual. Analytics mean that we can see exactly where individuals struggle with software, and what help they will need to get over those hurdles. And modern digital adoption platforms allow us to give individuals the help and advice they need, when they need it, in language they understand.

The Tech Stack Will Be the Major Selling Point, Not the Head Office

Ball pits, juice bars and air hockey might be a tech company cliché, but businesses have used their offices to sell themselves to potential employees for a long time. After all, a job is more attractive if you’ll be spending 8+ hours a day somewhere you like. Yet with remote and hybrid working here to stay, and many people’s expectations transformed by lockdowns, the digital environment will be much more important than the office environment.

This will make the technology stack organisations’ head office and shop window in one. If employees, or prospective employees, don’t enjoy their digital experience, or feel they can’t use the tools they’re given, they’ll leave. Similarly, customers won’t want to use a business that is frustrating to interact with – which is just as true for online services as it is for shop staff. Organisations need to be certain that all their technology is as easy to use as possible, with the right help and support at hand so that users can get the advice they need at any time. Otherwise, they’ll find that however glamorous their offices are, they’re showing their worst face to the world.

Digital Transformation Will Need to Avoid its ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ Moment

Digital transformation has attracted plenty of investment over the last few years. But in 2022, organisations are going to ask whether they’re getting what they paid for. We’ll see a lot of The Emperor’s New Clothes moments: not a small child pointing out that the emperor is naked, but organisations realising that their expensive digital transformation projects haven’t produced the expected results – often because the new technologies simply aren’t being used.

Fortunately, identifying a problem means it can be fixed. Analytics can identify where new technologies haven’t been adopted, and where the organisation needs to focus its attention. And while there might not be a 100% one-size-fits-all approach to increasing adoption, with the right tools organisations can onboard employees smoothly, giving the training and support needed to embrace, not avoid, new tools.

Workplace IT Will Test the iPhone Generation’s Patience

Chip shortage or not, Christmas 2021 will still welcome a flood of technology gifts – from smartphones to smart TVs to smart watches. Consumers have come to see user-centricity as standard with these devices. But most won’t find the same user-centric design when they return to the workplace. Research by Adobe shows half of employees would quit over poor workplace technology, meaning 2022 could see many organisations’ last chance to give people the experience they need.

Organisations need a view across the entire ecosystem, to analyse which applications are popular, which are time drains, and which ones employees avoid altogether; and exactly why that is. Without this overarching view, organisations will struggle to match, let alone exceed, IT experience expectations.

The Great Resignation Will Spawn a Great Acceptance

The Great Resignation has been a huge talking point in 2021, with research by recruiter Randstad UK revealing that 69% of UK workers are considering moving jobs. 2022 will see businesses focusing on the ‘Great Acceptance’ – essentially, making sure new employees stick. Frustrations with core areas of the new job, such as technology, could quickly make new employees disengaged, prone to error, and ultimately more likely to quit. Without preparations to accept and onboard new employees, these new hires could walk straight back out of the door.

To avoid spending on average 50-60% of employees’ annual salaries finding replacements, businesses need to focus on rolling out the red carpet. This means giving a proper introduction to software, and reinforcing understanding of these tools over time – in a way that itself is easy to understand, easy to use, and doesn’t bury employees in tutorials.

2022 will doubtless see many challenges. But digital adoption shouldn’t be one of them.

By Simon Blunn, VP and General Manager EMEA at WalkMe.

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