KR5 Consulting - Business Technology Consulting

Digital Adoption & How to Overcome Barriers to Success

What is digital adoption to leaders looking for high growth? And why is it vital to their success? For those that get ahead with digital adoption, they can better meet the wants and needs of their customers. Also, they can support more growth if they have the right tech. The fact is that our future is increasingly digital. So, failure to adopt means no future at all.

Leaders use digital to innovate as well as for running the business. More output or speed is no longer the only reason for investing. The business needs insights and new ways for its customers to connect with products and services.

As you’d expect, use of Digital is on the rise. And we see that in a 2021 Verizon survey. Two-thirds (63%) of decision makers are using digital tools to scale, compared to half (53%) the year before. Leaders want to create new opportunities, as well as use it to improve the experience for their customers.

Importance of Digital Adoption

We only need to look at how we have adopted digital in our lives to see its influence in business. Younger people “cannot imagine their lives without technology”, says Loubier in a Forbes article. They’re using apps to learn at school and for their driving theory. Ordering food and shopping online are the norm. And of course, we all use social media … a lot! So, it’s no surprise that our customers expect a digital experience.

Customers expect digital as an alternative way of doing business. Online shopping apps and other digital services have changed our views forever. It’s easier and you can get things done when you want to. Customers can choose when – it might be late at night or on a commute. That means that if you don’t provide customers with digital ways of working, they’ll choose a business that does.

Digital is also changing the way we run a business. It’s not a case of just using it. Rather it’s about using digital to innovate more often. What’s considered new one day is quickly the norm. So, it’s about constantly moving forward.

Many struggle with getting the best of out of technology. Our guide, Business Technology: Essential Guide to Best Use, will help you create a robust process to ensure your new tech achieves your aims.

Barriers to Digital Adoption

Digital adoption faces barriers. The cost, our mind-set, and having access to the skills needed, can stop our progress.

Firstly, cost of using digital is a common reason for not changing. As well as software cost, it’s unlikely that a smaller business will have all the skills needed to make it a success. The key is to build a solid business case. That aside, grants such as “Help to Grow: Digital” can also help make it easier to overcome the initial cost hurdle.

Secondly, people can have a closed mind to using digital or simply fear change. Having the right mind-set is key to success. It’s about embracing it as part of your future. And seeing adopting digital as a vital part of moving the business forward. But even when leaders are championing change there can be resistance. Bad experiences or other fears can result in a push back from staff.

Thirdly, lack of skills can hold the business back. It’s important to make projects successful and you want to avoid false starts. Having the right skills at the right time enables the business to deliver results faster and with better outcomes.

Benefits of Digital Adoption

In the past the benefits of digital adoption have been more speed, output, and lower cost. That’s still true, but it’s a changing picture. Today it’s as much about creating an advantage. You can see that in the top two reasons why leaders choose to adopt technology.

The top reason to adopt digital is to innovate, says Deloitte. You can use it in so many different ways, it’s perfect for being creative. As the world becomes more digital, it’s playing a bigger part of every business. As we use more, it’s becoming a bigger part of our strategic thinking.

The second top reason is to keep up with the times. They don’t want to be in the rear-view mirror. As technology evolves, new apps can do so much more. Old apps can be slower and more expensive by comparison. There’s a constant battle to keep up.

People can think that digital adoption is all about implementing technology. In some ways that’s true because in the end that’s what happens. But the other side is how digital can help a business win. That’s more about using it as part of their strategy.

A Digital Adoption Mind-set

Why is mind-set an issue for digital adoption? There are two reasons. Firstly, leaders that see it as part of the big picture are more likely to win than those that only see point solutions. Secondly, those that learn digital skills will be more valuable.

Leaders that see digital as an increasing part of the business as well as a strategic lever will do better than those that don’t. But that means leaders must change their approach. It must become part of their strategic planning, their systems and learning. In other words, much more thinking about how it helps the business thrive.

People in the business also have a responsibility to improve their digital skills. Those that embrace digital change and learn new skills are more valuable. There’s less demand for those that stick to what they know and fail to get out their comfort zone.

The shift in thinking is to see the bigger part that digital plays. It’s not an add-on but an integral part of how it works. That has implications for how you build systems and for learning.

Using more Digital in Your Business

Once you’ve decided on adopting digital, where do you start? Of course, there’s digital in the business – but is it the right tech and if so, is it used well?

One approach is to look at how you could improve different areas of the business. But there’s a danger of creating a fragmented list. Or worse a mess of digital in your business.

Therefore, a better approach is to see how you can use digital to create value across the whole business. That starts with how you fit into your customer’s world. Yet, as you go further down, it looks at how you create value for your customers. You can then create broad plans for using digital. This helps avoid dead ends or finding yourself lost in the weeds.

That view is insightful. You can focus on changes that will have a bigger impact. Also, instead of having a list of fragmented ideas, you can test them against the bigger plan. That means your investments are smarter and you’ll waste less time and money.

Which comes back to creating a business case for digital changes. When you have a clear view of what you’re aiming to achieve with digital, it’s easier to make the case. You’ll know why it’s important for your long-term success.

How to Encourage Digital Adoption

A sound business reason and early involvement is the best way to encourage people to adopt digital (Kotter, 2012).

When people understand why you want to use digital and how it can help them, they’ll be more open to change. There’s a cost for people to let go of the familiar and learn something new. It’s tiring. They also need to overcome their own fears – and they’ll need a good reason to do so. Yet if they can adapt, they’ll grow and feel better about themselves.

You and I, along with everyone else like to be involved with decisions that affect us. That means working out who’s affected as soon as you can. Also, you can get a better outcome if you get feedback and ideas from the team. After all, they may have a better idea of the day-to-day problems than you!


Future success needs digital adoption and a mind-set to innovate and learn. Leaders need a broad view of digital across their whole business. That also means using digital to help customers achieve their tasks.

You can better serve your customers, create more value, and achieve your goals faster if you use digital well. It’s important for strategy and supports faster business growth.

Customers expect digital services. That comes from how they use mobile and online services in their everyday lives. If you don’t provide them, they’ll go to a business that does.


  1. Verizon (2021), Small Business Recovery Survey August 2021, Verizon Online.
  2. Loubier A. (2021, June), Is Society Moving In The Right Direction With Technology Rapidly Taking Over The World?, Forbes Online.
  3. DBEIS (2022), Help to Grow: Digital – UK, online.
  4. Gurumurthy R., Nanda R.,Schatsky D. (2021), Putting digital at the heart of strategy, Deloitte online.
  5. Kotter J. (2012), Leading Change, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston