You’ve read up on digital transformation. You’ve figured out how to make it a success for your organization. You may well have planned out the most exquisite and flawless digital transformation strategy known to man. Unfortunately, though, none of it will ever get off the ground if you can’t get your executives on board.
The fact of the matter is, top-level executives can be one of the biggest obstructions for digital transformation. They’re not going to sign off on it unless they’re thoroughly convinced. So how do you get them there?
Know your audience
This is the golden rule for just about any proposal or presentation, and it’s no less crucial here. To successfully convince your executives to try digital transformation, you need to understand their wants and their fears, and how to shape your proposal around them.
Many executives just don’t want change. Change is risky, after all—it means uncertainty, hard work, and of course, money—so why fix something that doesn’t look broken? Digital transformation in particular may seem threatening to some executives who are less tech-savvy. These executives will be afraid of seeming ignorant, or of not having the tools or know-how to guide the company through digital initiatives.
What do executives want, then? The answer is simple: to improve the bottom line. They’re not going to be interested in grand visions of the Internet of Everything and changing the world through the cloud; they want to know the ROI, in the most precise terms possible.
Keep it simple
With those underlying principles about your audience in mind, it’s time to get down to the details of presenting your proposal.
In general, you need to keep it short and simple. Executives have to hear many, many presentations, and will only afford yours so much time and attention. Hone in on the details your executives will be interested in, and leave the rest aside.
Going too deeply into the technical side of things is likely to make your audience feel ignorant, alienated, or just plain bored. And of course, jargon and buzzwords should be avoided like the plague—the former will confuse your audience, and the latter will just annoy them. Make your proposal accessible and to-the-point.
Your main idea needs to be about the effect digital transformation will have on the company’s financials. Make your arguments and predictions in terms of exact numbers—hard data is your best ally. Be sure you’ve done your homework; executives will expect you to be able to talk not only about the ROI of digital transformation, but the overall state and trajectory of the marketplace.
Have a plan
You’ll want to have a concrete plan to present, as well (or even a few potential plans to offer). Be able to explain the specifics of what you have in mind. It’s best to have a plan that starts small and scales its way up over time, thereby presenting less risk up-front.
Digital transformation does come with risks and challenges, and it’s critical to be open about them. Executives are not dumb—they know full well that nothing is all roses and sunshine, and trying to present that way will come off as evasive and insincere. Instead, take control of the dialogue by laying out the potential issues and addressing them directly. Be prepared to genuinely listen and respond to any further concerns your executives have as well.
Even while discussing the risks, however, it’s important to maintain an upbeat tone. People respond best to enthusiasm and confidence, especially on topics that might otherwise seem daunting. Overall, be straightforward, goal-oriented, and positive, and your message will be received.