Ever since computers were invented, by definition, they had software running on them in order to achieve anything for their users. One of the very earliest examples of a commercial software package was probably the 1982 Xerox 610 Memorywriter Word Processor.
Readers of a certain age might even remember the Memorywriter. It was effectively just a typewriter with a tiny LCD screen and a memory chip. The idea was that the user would type their document and save it, then hit the ‘print’ button and the machine would then type the contents in one go.
Crucially, there was no large screen as an interface, but if the typed document showed any errors or needed edits, it was possible to scroll back through the LCD strip of words, make changes then save the document again.
Entire rainforests of paper were probably sacrificed or Tipp-Ex applied with a broad brush, but of its time, the 610 was seen as a significant advancement to office practices. And you didn’t need to use carbon paper.
The next step was of course the ‘green screen computer’ where a document could be typed onto a keyboard and printed via a dot-matrix printer. Then came Windows 98 and the rest is history. But all these innovations have one thing in common.
The software was installed on premise – meaning that it resided on your device, or, in the case of larger organizations, on a company network. All that is changing, because people can now use software ‘in the cloud’.
It means that they must learn to adapt to more regular software updates, and that’s where the AI-driven Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) WalkMe comes into its own. Cloud-based software is known as SaaS (Software as a Service) – it runs on remote servers and is accessed by perhaps thousands of corporate clients daily, so those servers get busy.
This can sometimes slow things down. For example, have you ever noticed how Facebook often grinds to a crawling pace on a Friday early evening when everyone is out for drinks with friends and co-workers and uploading selfies? It’s no different with SaaS but the benefits usually far outweigh the disadvantages.
However, there are so many Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs) whether cloud-based or on-premise, that the choice is head-spinning. When software buyers are deciding on a CRM to use, especially in conjunction with a DAP, they would be best advised to keep to a list of the 10 ‘must-have’ CRM features when deciding on a software provider
In any case, one of the most common challenges of adopting to new software or updates to existing cloud systems is training personnel to cope with those changes. This is where a DAP such as WalkMe is so valuable.
A DAP effectively sits next to the primary software and runs as a ‘teaching layer’ using artificial intelligence (AI) – it hyper-personalizes the teaching and can predict when individual users are likely to make mistakes, preventing them before costly errors occur.
The DAP can be used in conjunction with cloud-based SaaS or on-premise software installations equally efficiently, as it can run in the cloud or on a company network. Think of DAP help as ‘tooltips on steroids’, only interrupting or offering assistance when it knows it’s required, on a per individual user basis.
When SaaS was first introduced, it was rare to be able to integrate other software packages along with it. Like a Frenchman trying to chat up a Greek woman in a bar, their conversation was never going to get anywhere!
But the use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) has suddenly meant that nearly all software can communicate with other third-party systems. Such integrations are discussed in more detail in this interesting article about the top five SaaS trends in 2022.
As mentioned above, the beauty of DAPs is the fact that they run on AI, so are hyper-personalized. What’s even better is that each user can have a DAP ‘learning account’ – in essence because the way that they interact with software, the way their mind works, will not change when applied to a brand-new SaaS package when they encounter it for the first time.
In this way the DAP can transfer what it has learned from users’ previous interactions to predict how they will cope with the latest innovations. One slightly problematic issue, however, is the fact that this process is effectively a machine making decisions that could affect employee behavior.
There are moral, ethical and legal considerations to be taken into account when AI is able to affect a person’s performance at work- as this thought provoking BBC article about the European Union and AI examines.
Don’t panic though, because let’s not forget that a DAP like WalkMe isn’t trying to spy on an employee’s use of software, nor to paint that person in a negative light for their boss. A DAP can only help a worker to improve their efficiency when operating from their workstation, whether that be at home or in the office.
Managers can have access to a DAP dashboard that can allow them to understand knowledge gaps in terms of individuals and the workforce as a whole.
One thing is certain, the DAP concept is here to stay, and will inevitably become a commonplace ‘bolt-on’ to all software, for home use and at work.