Adoption Rate: The Cloud’s Vanity Metric

Adoption rate is a metric that Cloud-based CRM providers obsess about.  It’s one of the best and most reliable indicators of whether or not a company will renew their subscription to a Cloud vendor’s service.

However, for organizations that use CRM, adoption rate is a vanity metric. Although it may suggest the tool is being used by employees (or not being used), it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the purpose of the application for the people using it. Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, says this about vanity metrics:They might make you feel good, but they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.”

When tracking adoption rate (e.g. the number of user logins for your CRM over a 14-day period), can you answer the following questions:

  • Are users more productive and have more time in front of customers as a result of the application?
  • Are users effectively managing their opportunities?
  • Do managers have the ability to accurately forecast sales by period using information entered by users?

Adoption rates are not an indicator of this truly useful information. It does not tell about the efficacy of an application for its users or the organization that the application serves.

Avoid falling into the adoption vanity metric trap by focusing on what people do. Put those processes in your application. For example, if your sales team is constructing detailed deal information in spreadsheets that are used to determine pricing and strategy (a very common thing), put that process in the app.  Spreadsheets are difficult to manage, and do not provide an effective report and dashboard option to manage ROI.

Rather than mustering tremendous amounts of resources for training and change plans to get users to adopt your app, focus on simple, but key things that will draw users in. 

  • Reduce the amount of work, specifically administrivia, that people have to do so they can spend more time in front of customers.
  • Present users with clear and concise information sets that tells the customer’s story  (the abridged version, please!).
  • Make the data you measure the bi-products of customer interactions instead of being a compilation of tedious data entry by users.


Too often, users feel like CRM is a big brother tool, or that they are entering information only to benefit their management. When designed correctly, the users’ interactions with the app should tell their story of what they do on a daily basis, who they are talking to and anticipated results from their work.

Let me sum it up very simply: be innovative and creative when designing your application.  Make people’s lives easier. Focus on helping them be successful.  Strive for the ultimate goal– to make your enterprise applications fun. Once you’ve done this, you won’t need to look to adoption rate to answer the question of whether your CRM is worth the subscription.