This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

To realize the full product value from their investments, organizations must do more than deploy software – and product creators must do more than sign up new users.

In fact, it is important to realize that product value depends on many other factors, such as:

  • The user experience
  • User proficiency levels
  • User engagement and sentiment

Also, many other important business outcomes depend on how fully product value is realized.

For instance, organizations that realize more value from their platforms will experience other benefits, such as:

  • Improved product performance, productivity, and ROI
  • An enhanced competitive position
  • Enhanced organizational effectiveness and efficiency

In this article, we will learn how to garner these benefits – and more – by exploring product value in depth.

To start out, let’s learn about the basics of product value. 

What Is Product Value and Why Does It Matter?

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about product value is that “software deployment” is just the first step.

A product’s final value depends a great deal on other factors, such as:

  • How well the software is implemented
  • The users themselves – from their sentiment to their skill levels
  • Product adoption strategies and digital adoption strategies
  • User training programs

In short, businesses must take steps to ensure that users can make the most of a product.

Poor onboarding and training, for instance, will have a negative effect on user metrics, such as proficiency and productivity.

In turn, those users will only realize part of the software’s potential value. And the performance of that product will suffer.

An enterprise that implements a new product internally, for instance, can see detrimental effects on employee performance, morale, and ultimately the organization’s overall performance.

Let’s learn how to tackle these obstacles by understanding the basics of product value.

Product Value 101: Where Value Comes From

For individual users, a product’s value is determined by qualities such as:

  • Usability – A usable product is easy to learn, remember, and navigate. Users become productive more quickly and make fewer errors as they gain proficiency.
  • Meaning – Meaningful products and experiences, according to design experts such as Nathan Shedroff, are ultimately more valuable to their users. In fact, he claims, meaning trumps many other product qualities, including price.
  • Utility – Utility is how functional a product is, how relevant is, and whether it actually helps users accomplish their goals. The more utility a product has, the more valuable it will be.
  • The Product Experience – Experience matters and can influence how users feel about a product, a brand, how engaged they are, and more. Factors such as these, in turn, affect how much value they ultimately extract from the product.

For organizations, such as enterprises that implement SaaS platforms in the workplace, the value of a software product is affected by:

  • The performance and productivity of the software. Software that performs as expected will naturally be more valuable than software that does not. That performance, however, depends only in part on the software itself. It also depends on many of the factors covered above, such as user engagement and proficiency.
  • How fully that software is utilized. Enterprise-grade SaaS platforms have many features and functions. On the one hand, this complexity offers a great deal of functionality. Yet it can also present a challenge, since users must continually learn to use that software. For that reason, businesses must find ways not just to deploy software, but to utilize it to its fullest extent.
  • The ROI of that software. Software ROI ultimately depends on many of the factors covered above, such as user proficiency, user engagement, and software utilization. To maximize the value and bottom-line ROI of a platform, organizations must develop structured adoption strategies (see below).

As we can see, product value clearly depends on many factors beyond the software itself.

Sophisticated software, for instance, can deliver many benefits to businesses and users that adopt that software.

However, to realize the full value of that software, organizations must develop product adoption plans.

For those new to these ideas, the best place to start is by learning about product value and a few connected concepts.

Key Concepts Related to Product Value

So far, we have seen that product value is not a clear-cut, easily attainable goal – it depends on a number of other variables.

Influencing those variables, therefore, is a prerequisite for making progress around product value.

Here are some concepts that can help lay the groundwork for understanding and enhancing product value:

  • Product Value – Product value, as mentioned, is the value that users and organizations obtain from a product. Different factors can influence that value, such as the utility of the product, how usable it is, and how meaningful it is.
  • Product Adoption – Product adoption is the process by which users integrate a new product into their digital environment. It includes several stages in the pathway to purchase, such as product research and evaluation. Then it continues with other post-purchase activities, such as onboarding and product training.
  • Onboarding and Training – Onboarding and training are critical stages in the product adoption process. Users who, for instance, learn how to use a new product quickly and efficiently will be able to gain more value from a product in the short term. And that speed, in turn, can also impact the value they extract over the long term.
  • The User Experience – Users’ experience of a product affects their engagement, motivation, and sentiment. It can also impact productivity and performance. And these, in turn, impact the value that the product delivers its users.
  • Digital AdoptionDigital adoption is a strategic approach that incorporates product adoption. Its aim is to maximize software utilization and product value, through effective onboarding, training, and more.

Later, we will look at how to apply these ideas in the real world, so organizations can help users realize the full value of their products.

First, though, let’s elaborate on some of these ideas in more detail.

Product Adoption and Product Value In-Depth: An FAQ

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about product adoption and product value:

How does product adoption help users realize the full value of their products?

Structured adoption process aim at improving several of the factors mentioned above, which can have a positive effect on the product’s value.

As mentioned, for instance, product value can depend on user skill levels, sentiment, and more.

Product adoption, therefore, aims at improving areas such as:

  • User proficiency. Training programs, in-app walkthroughs, product tours, technical support, and other areas can improve proficiency levels. And greater proficiency, in turn, increases the value that users can gain from their products.
  • User satisfaction. Better user experiences can be attained by improving product design, product tours, support functions, and more. These improvements increase user satisfaction as well as the value they obtain from a product.
  • User engagement. Good experiences also positively affect user engagement. And the more engaged users are, the more productive they will be, which improves the end value of a product.

Among others.

Adoption programs take a systematic approach to improving these areas by improving different areas of the adoption cycle, such as:

  • Onboarding
  • Training
  • Product tours
  • Product walkthroughs
  • Technical support
  • Customer support
  • Self-service functions

And so on.

Next, we will discuss product adoption and digital adoption strategies in more detail.

What do product adoption programs look like?

Product adoption programs are structured differently, depending on the organization.

Some view the adoption process as starting the moment users sign up for a trial or subscription.

Others start the process earlier and include other business functions in the equation, such as marketing and sales.

Taking this view, product adoption can include:

  • Marketing and sales touchpoints
  • The initial sign-up and login
  • Introductory product tours
  • Onboarding, training, and walkthroughs
  • Technical support and customer support
  • Ongoing product training

In short, this process can include any business activity that helps users integrate and adopt a product into their digital environment.

How is product adoption measured?

Product adoption efforts aim at increasing areas such as:

  • User retention
  • Engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Productivity
  • Performance

While decreasing negatives, such as frustration, burnout, and abandonment.

Any of these metrics can be used to measure the effectiveness of an adoption program. 

Normally, an organization would choose a set of objectives that fits its business model, then derive metrics from that aim.

A software development firm, for instance, would likely focus on goals related to user acquisition and retention.

An enterprise adopting software for in-house use, however, would likely be more concerned with employee performance, proficiency, and productivity.

Who should implement product adoption strategies?

The two scenarios just mentioned are two of the most common.

Enterprises that adopt software internally are interested in product adoption because:

  • Product adoption effectiveness impacts employee performance, which in turn affects organizational performance
  • Today’s organizations are undergoing continual digital transformation, which requires ongoing digital adoption
  • Software ROI ultimately depends on how effectively products are adopted into the workplace

Product creators are concerned with product adoption because:

  • Effective product adoption positively affects user acquisition efforts, by decreasing costs, increasing retention, and more
  • Good adoption efforts improve the user experience, the brand experience, users’ perception of the company, and can indirectly boost marketing efforts
  • Adoption programs can fuel customer success, growth, and the organization’s bottom-line profits

However, there are certainly other benefits to implementing structured adoption programs.

For instances:

  • Product adoption tools, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs), can create a culture of self-reliance among users, decreasing technical support costs
  • Adoption funnels can be used to cross-promote other products and services, improving customer value and adding more revenue early on in the customer relationship
  • Certain adoption techniques, such as interactive product tours, can be used by marketers to nurture prospects and increase conversion rates

Product adoption is, in short, a concern for any business or person who must implement and learn new software.

In business, this is a particular area of focus, because the stakes are so high.

Poor adoption efforts can harm product creators’ business model, decreasing customer growth and revenue.

And the same holds true for businesses that adopt software for internal use. After all, poor adoption programs can harm organizational effectiveness and performance.

What are some best practices of product adoption?

Later, we will explore some principles and best practices in more detail.

However, here are a few fundamentals:

  • Commit to a well-structured, strategic adoption effort to get best results
  • Let user input guide adoption efforts and training
  • Use modern training tools to streamline onboarding, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs)
  • Stay agile and adaptable, allowing the adoption program to evolve over time

See below for more in-depth explorations of these ideas.

Where can I learn more about product value and digital adoption?

To maximize product value and optimize adoption, it is important to understand the ins and outs of digital adoption.

Professionals who want to reap the rewards of their adoption efforts should learn as much as possible about digital adoption.

Here are a few ways to do just that:

  • Attend WalkMe’s Realize conference. WalkMe’s Realize conference is a first-of-its-kind digital adoption conference. It will include thought-provoking dialogues, keynotes from industry leaders, training sessions, and much more.
  • Read our digital adoption blog. Digital-adoption.com is home to some of the best resources on digital adoption topics. Readers can find articles on every topic related to digital adoption, including digital transformation, product adoption, product training, user-centric design, and much more.
  • Study thought leaders. There are plenty of excellent blogs that offer insight on digital adoption topics. WalkMe, Gartner, McKinsey, HfS, and Deloitte are a few examples to check out. 

For more resources, see one of our articles that list a few of the top digital transformation blogs.

A Step-by-Step Approach to Maximizing Product Value

We have already seen how flexible product value is.

The actual value depends on a number of other factors, which means that it is possible to enhance that value.

With a systematic approach, organizations can increase the ROI and performance of their products.

Here is a step-by-step approach for doing just that:

1. Understand factors that affect product value.

First and foremost, it is important to learn about the fundamental factors that affect product value.

Since software products are operated by humans, many of those variables are based on the users themselves.

Not all of them, of course.

Product design, for instance, cannot be directly controlled by adoption specialists.

However, adoption professionals do have control over certain human-related factors.

Here are some examples:

  • The User Experience – Today’s most successful companies recognize the value of enhancing the user experience. Good experiences are more engaging and have positive impacts on user sentiment, their motivation levels, their ability to learn, their perception of a brand, and much more.
  • Sentiment – User satisfaction, frustration, and other sentiments are often related to the user experience. Improving adoption and onboarding experiences, for instance, can have a positive impact on users’ emotions, which positively affect other user metrics, such as engagement.
  • Engagement – Users who are more engaged will be more productive and efficient. They will also be more likely to stick with a product, and less likely to abandon it for another solution. Better adoption funnels keep users engaged and lower abandonment rates.

All of the above can be influenced, to a certain extent, by the design of digital adoption programs.

A series of interactive product walkthroughs, for instance, will boost engagement, simplify the user experience, and leave a positive impression on users.

Such techniques will have a strong impact on more tangible, measurable factors, such as:

  • Proficiency – Engaging, effective training will improve user proficiency levels. This is a particular concern for businesses that implement new software tools in the workplace. Proficiency, after all, affects employee productivity and performance.
  • Productivity – Proficient, engaged users are more productive than users who are disengaged and unskilled. And productive users are more likely to use a wider range of product features, realize that product’s value, and perform well. 
  • Performance – User performance is another measure of product value. After all, users who underperform will never really actualize a product’s full potential … while high-performing users will help organizations reap the maximum potential of a platform.

Understanding the role that these concepts play in product value is an essential first step towards actually realizing product value.

But it is only the first step.

Next, organizations must create plans to maximize product value for their user base.

2. Design strategies that address and improve those areas.

First, perform the requisite assessments.

Evaluate and analyze areas such as:

  • The existing adoption program, if any
  • Onboarding efforts
  • Training efforts
  • Digital maturity and technological capabilities
  • Organizational culture

The product adoption effort will be focusing on these areas, so it is important to understand them before developing improvement plans.

Once this information is collected, then develop product adoption strategies.

These strategies can include:

  • User Onboarding – Structured onboarding programs are aimed at streamlining the users introduction to software platforms. These programs aim at optimizing various sub-stages of the onboarding process, such as sign-up pages, the initial login sequence, the introductory product tour, and so forth.
  • Organizational Culture Change – When businesses adopt new products for internal use, they may want to alter the organization’s climate and culture. The reason is, as we saw above, that employees’ behavior and attitudes impact productivity levels. And these, in turn, affect the product’s performance and value.
  • Product Training Programs – Training programs are aimed at improving user proficiency. Training can take many forms, from interactive walkthroughs to website content. As we’ll see later, however, the most effective formats are in-product, contextual, and interactive.

In many cases, these product adoption approaches will require some sort of organizational change.

If necessary, be sure to research change management in detail to ensure that such change projects proceed smoothly.

3. Develop and implement a digital adoption program.

Digital adoption programs encompass product adoption, but extend their scope further.

In an enterprise setting, for instance, digital adoption efforts can aim at:

  • Improving digital maturity. An organization’s digital maturity refers to: its digital tools, the IT infrastructure, the workforce’s digital skills, and so forth. Digital transformation aims at improving all of these areas, and more, which is clearly a step beyond product adoption and user adoption.
  • Integrating digital workflows. Proficiency in a single tool is often not enough in today’s work world. A typical worker will be required to use multiple tools on a daily basis, requiring them to become skilled at all of those tools … not just a single one.
  • Creating a streamlined digital work environment. The digital workplace should be seamless and efficient. But unfortunately that is rarely the case – and skill deficiencies are often the culprit. A permanent digital adoption function aims at narrowing the digital skills gap and producing a workforce that is efficient, proficient, and productive.

The end goal – particularly for businesses that adopt new software – is more than just the adoption of a single product.

For enterprises, as we just saw, this goal expands to include digital transformation, creating a seamless digital workplace, and so forth.

For product development companies, the ideal is to create a seamless product experience that extends across the entire user journey.

In either case, digital adoption strategies prove ideal.

4. Implement organizational changes when necessary.

Product adoption programs may require organizational change.

This is especially true when an organization is undergoing digital transformation.

For example, employees may be required to engage in training programs, new routines, and new workflows.

This may seem a bit much, especially since we are simply discussing product value.

However, consider that:

  • Product value depends on more than just the product itself – it is also influenced by users’ mindsets, sentiments, motivation, skill levels, and more
  • Onboarding, training, and adoption efforts can have a significant influence on how much value a product actually delivers to its users 
  • Organizations may or may not be prepared to implement digital adoption efforts, some of which may require significant changes to existing business processes

In short, if organizations truly want to maximize the value of their products, they may need make changes to certain business processes.

For instance, an organization may need to change:

  • Its existing adoption program … if it has one
  • Training programs
  • Onboarding programs
  • User experience programs

And so forth.

When necessary, organizations should be willing to:

  • Make organizational changes
  • Manage those changes by following change management best practices
  • Continually optimize and enhance their adoption programs

Naturally, such changes will take time, resources, and effort to implement.

However, given the potential benefits associated with product adoption, they can be well worth the investment.

5. Adjust and optimize as necessary.

Product adoption programs, like any other business process, are dynamic.

A static process that is left alone will quickly become stagnant, obsolete, and unprofitable.

And the same holds true for digital adoption processes.

To maximize product value and stay relevant, organizations should continually optimize their programs.

Here is a straightforward approach that describes how to do just that:

  • Collect data. Start by analyzing adoption metrics and KPIs. User feedback, software analytics, and other data can be used to feed these sources.
  • Learn. Identify trends, weaknesses, areas of opportunity, and so forth. Those patterns and trends can help program coordinators better understand their users, the product, and the adoption program itself.
  • Refine. Make adjustments to improve those areas. 
  • Rinse and repeat. Repeat the process on a regular basis. Over time, this process of testing, re-testing, and refining will yield better outcomes than if the program is just set and left alone.

This is, of course, a bit of an oversimplification.

The principles, however, are sound. 

Following a process such as this can prevent adoption programs from stagnating, keeping them relevant, useful, and profitable.

This type of continual improvement is an essential process for any business that wants to realize the full value of its products.

How to Fuel Adoption Efforts with Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs)

We have explored digital adoption in a bit of depth, but let’s recap a few key principles here.

Digital adoption:

  • Is a stage in the process of digital transformation
  • Includes product adoption, but extends its scope to include other processes
  • Aims at streamlining digital work environments
  • Focuses on improving key user metrics, such as proficiency, productivity, and performance
  • Is an ideal way to help businesses realize a product’s full value

Finally, it is important to note that today, there is an emerging class of technology specifically devoted to implementing digital adoption plans.

Unsurprisingly, these tools are called digital adoption platforms (DAPs).

The Key Features and Benefits of DAPs

DAPs are automated training platforms that dramatically streamline digital adoption processes.

Key features of these platforms include:

  • Contextualized, in-app guidance
  • Step-by-step product walkthroughs and tours
  • Software analytics that offer insight into user behavior and training needs
  • Automation features that can free up user time for more value-added activities

These features combine to create a powerful digital adoption solution – one that can help transform an organization’s adoption efforts.

Using a DAP offers a number of benefits, such as:

  • Accelerated user training time
  • Decreased user frustration and improved satisfaction levels
  • Lower technical support costs
  • A self-service solution that can help create a culture of self-reliance
  • A simplified, streamlined user experience
  • Integrated workflows and a seamless digital workplace

To name just a few.

However, not all DAPs are created equal, which is why businesses should learn about digital adoption from the industry’s foremost leaders.

Taking Product Value to the Next Level with WalkMe

Those who want to maximize product value and learn more about digital adoption should research WalkMe.

WalkMe:

  • Pioneered the DAP
  • Is used by many of the world’s largest, most reputable companies, such as Amazon and Adobe
  • Has been recognized as an industry leader by Gartner, among many others
  • Hosts the digital adoption conference Realize, a one-of-a-kind event devoted to digital adoption

Those who want to truly learn about digital adoption should study WalkMe’s ideas in depth – after all, this visionary company is defining the present and future of digital adoption.

Those who want to learn more about digital adoption, therefore, would do well to research the company in more depth.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Attend WalkMe’s Realize conference, the digital adoption event of the year
  • Visit WalkMe’s main website
  • Read WalkMe’s main blog or their change management blog
  • Read about WalkMe in major media outlets, such as Forbes

All of these sources can be very valuable for professionals who are deeply interested in digital transformation, digital adoption, and the future of the digital workplace.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have explored product value from top to bottom.

We have learned many things about product value and product adoption:

  • Product value is mutable and depends on other factors beyond the product itself
  • Human variables, such as engagement, sentiment, and proficiency, can be deliberately improved
  • Product adoption and digital adoption efforts take a systematic approach to improving these variables
  • Effective digital adoption depends on strategy and execution, as well as the effective use of modern platforms … namely, DAPs

Finally, organizations that truly want to make the most of their digital adoption programs – and realize the full value of their products – should turn to industry leaders such as WalkMe.

WalkMe’s first-ever digital adoption conference, Realize, presents an ideal opportunity to learn more about digital adoption, gain practical skills, meet industry leaders, network, and more.

If the event is not full – or if it has not passed – then interested professionals should consider attending this unique event.

For more information, visit the Realize conference website or WalkMe’s website.