Helping end users better understand what they can do with a new resource might boost long-term adoption.
Though IBM possesses plenty of resources to deliver technology, Nilanjan Adhya, chief digital officer for IBM Cognitive, says it can still be harder for a large enterprise to drive transformation than what a single-product company might experience. So, the technology giant turned to WalkMe’s digital adoption platform to help ease end users into working with some 25 of its product lines, with more implementations in the works.
In prior years, IBM’s traditional clients were large companies, but Adhya says more individuals such as developers, analysts, and data scientists began to explore its products. “We had to figure out a way for a company of this size to engage with users of our products who were not traditionally the buyers of our products,” he says.
IBM tended to connect directly with CIOs, CFOs, CXOs, and CEOs in the past, Adhya says, to get organizations to license its offerings. Changes in how technology is adopted meant exploring ways to act more like a consumer company to attract users and meet their needs, he says. “We wanted to go big by going small.”
Traditional legacy infrastructure had to evolve, he says, to address engagement with individuals with more microservices-based architecture and to allow for flexibility and faster innovation. “We had to rethink how we build and execute on our products,” Adhya says. He compares this move to “go small” to designing products akin to Lego blocks, with different versions built to meet the size and scale of the companies that would use them. It also meant reaching out to individual users and rethinking business models, moving from one-time licensing to subscriptions.
The changes IBM sought to make are shared by many organizations that go through digital transformation, says Rafael Sweary, president and co-founder of WalkMe. He says there is a tendency to focus on the function of technology first and foremost, which can lead to some friction after deployment. “Most times, in most projects, the user is an afterthought,” Sweary says.
With pace of evolution always accelerating, he says it becomes harder for the user to keep up. “Usually digital transformation fails not because the technology can’t do the job — it fails because the user is not able to adapt to this new way of working.” Sweary says WalkMe’s digital adoption platform simplifies the end user experience by telling the technology what the user wants to do, automating processes to reduce friction with users. This can help with conversion rate and long-term adoption of new technology.
Adhya says IBM wanted to address such metrics, particularly a trend among numerous users to sign up for a product trial yet not engage that much with it. The issue, he says, is that people find business-to-business software to be complex in general, especially in the beginning, with a steep learning curve to understand what the product can do. “When you are able to get users past that hurdle, they become more productive and we retain them at much higher rates,” Adhya says.
IBM put out a request for proposal to address this and looked at a variety of options, he says. WalkMe was chosen for its ability to deliver an onboarding path in a no code-like way without developer assistance needed. “That was a huge aspect for us for a faster return to value,” Adhya says. With about 25 of its products using WalkMe for onboarding, he says the results have been rather evident and clear. “Our trial conversion rates for some early adopters went up about 3X,” he says.
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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career immersed in business and technology journalism first covering local industries in New Jersey, later as the New York editor for Xconomy delving into the city’s tech startup community, and then as a freelancer for such outlets as … View Full Bio