Sure—to survive in the digital marketplace, you need a strong digital strategy. But even more than that: you need buy-in from your employees and stakeholders. In the past, we’ve talked about who is charge of managing the digital transformation, but the issue of who sells it is equally critical. Without meaningful support from your change leaders, C-Suite execs, and front-line teams, your digital strategy will amount to little more than cool ideas on a quickly evolving page.
What I’ve found when writing “Building Dragons – Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy" and in working with hundreds of tech companies over the past decade is that it doesn’t matter who leads the charge, what matters most is how. It stands to reason the CEO will play a major role in setting digital vision and establishing a core group of executives to keep the ball rolling. That could mean the addition of a Chief Digital Officer working with a CMO or CIO—or a mix of all three. Whatever the executive cocktail, you need a team of believers willing to push the efforts forward in a way that resonates with your doers—your people. The following are a few things to keep in mind for an effective digital sell.
Take Stock of the Marketplace
One of the biggest reasons you’re moving forward in the digital landscape is, undoubtedly, the fact that your competitors are already there. In selling the concept of digitization to your Board and executives, adopt a mindset of the venture capitalist, as if you’re investing in a brand new company for the first time. Know where value in your industry is migrating and explain it clearly using data and analytics from your entire industry. Be ready to answer the hard questions about what the investment will cost, what the returns will be, and when you can expect to see results. What’s more, be willing to ditch org models that don’t support digitization. That could mean cutting the red tape to make funds—and decisions—more easily attainable.
Know Your Audience—And Their Pain Points
Use what you already know about your company to proactively ensure your success. If you know your Board is hung up on numbers, show them the digital beef. If you know your employees are emotionally attached to dated branding or a past purpose, focus your efforts on creating a new and meaningful vision. The pain points will always be your biggest problem, so it should be an area where you put your biggest effort.
As noted by one writer, “Without a transformation of the core—the value proposition, people, processes, and technologies that are the lifeblood of the business—any digital initiative is likely to be a short-term fix. The legacy organization will inevitably exert a gravitational pull that drives a reversion to established practices.” In other words, if you don’t change the heart of the organization, your organization won’t ever really change. That’s why understanding the legacy—and any related sticking points—is so important.