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Six ways to engage senior business leaders in technological change

15 Mar 2017
Animated view of Earth from space, including digital connectivity lines

In association with 8x8

When speaking to customers, we frequently hear anecdotal evidence that mid-level IT managers face significant opposition from senior leaders around new technologies such as cloud communications.

We all need to do more to explain how key metrics like staff productivity, company profitability and business growth can be positively impacted. If you’re trying to persuade your senior business team to adopt a new technology, these six top tips may help.

  1. Strip out the jargon

    Nothing is more certain to alienate senior business managers than a pitch drenched in jargon they don’t understand. Avoid using terms your audience is unlikely to understand or, if they’re essential, explain them as you go. The tech industry is also known for codifying its language – using shorthand to speak to colleagues or others in the industry. But terms that are widely used in technology circles, such as ‘rip and replace’, might send the wrong message to senior leaders.

  2. Frame your idea to match the business goals

    Avoid a temptation to focus on the technological benefits – such as faster computing speeds, or richer functionality. Instead, align the benefits of new tech to the things the business is looking to achieve. If you don’t know what these are then do your homework first. For example, ask the senior team what their top five strategic business priorities for the year ahead are.

  3. Don’t get overly defensive when you’re challenged

    Senior leaders bring vast experience and decision-making skills and part of their job is to anticipate risk. When it comes to cloud adoption, a common senior level concern is around security. It’s critical you don’t get on to the defensive. Instead acknowledge these concerns and respond with facts. For example, according to the Cloud Industry Forum, perceptions around Cloud security do not necessarily match reality: only 2% of organisations state that they had experienced a breach of security when using a cloud service.

  4. Think big, start small

     Large, wholesale change can be scary for any business. Whilst you may be angling for a major transformation to the way your business operates, try introducing a smaller, low-cost, project first. For example, switch a particular, non-critical department, to the new system. Once you have proven the success of the project and have data that shows how it’s benefited the business, suggest a bigger phase of change.

  5. Check out your competitors

    Few senior leaders want to risk their reputation on something no one else has tried. One way to create a sense of urgency is by establishing that a competitor has implemented a similar idea with success. Nobody wants to stand behind the competition. Saying: “Our nearest competitor switched to the cloud 12 months ago and they’ve been able to increase performance by x%” makes a compelling case.

  6. Build your case with objective data

    Senior managers are more likely to listen to consensus than your gut feeling or a single example of success. There is a wealth of data available online and via third parties such as trusted channel resellers that can help you build the case for the change you’re suggesting. You should also make use of the data (e.g. customer satisfaction metrics) your company tracks and stores to show the positive impact of pathfinder projects like the one suggested above.

The views expressed in blogs such as the above are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Institute of Directors.

What's holding you back from the cloud?

Join leading comms experts 8x8 to understand how to take control of the cloud at our conference on 30 March 2017 at 116 Pall Mall. 

This breakfast seminar will outline the barriers to the cloud, what this means and how it can work for you and your organisation, allowing you a complete overview of your business’s data, analytics and reporting.

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