Let’s say you’ve identified a need for new business software and are considering investing in a cloud-based ERP solution that will either replace your outdated legacy system or digitize your data and automate your manual processes. You’re “sold” on it, but you need to get your C-level colleagues on board. Even if you are the business owner, you may not be able to press go on a new IT investment without some serious discussion with your management team.
We recognize that it’s not always easy to agree on the whys, whens, and hows of technology investments, especially when they’re unplanned (and unbudgeted) or represent a big change to the way your business operates or manages data. But technology adoption is on an upswing that’s likely here to stay, with companies taking an ever more flexible, agile approach to introducing new, particularly cloud-based, solutions. And yours can, too, when your leadership team is on the same page. Here are some insights and tips to help get there:
Some executives see the IT department as a cost center—and maybe this was the case in the not-too-distant past, but times are changing. Today, the reality is that technology is more than an enabler of company success: it’s a key driver, and increasingly so. Until IT is perceived as a strategic partner, it may be hard for technology expenses to be regarded as, well, strategic necessities.
Industry research suggests there’s some work to do. Nine out of ten (90%) of C-suite executives say the relationship between a CIO and CFO is either critical or important, according to CIO Dive’s Tension in the C-suite: Barriers still exist between CIOs and CFOs, but only 36% of CFOs say their relationship with their CIO is excellent, and 38% of CIOs say the same of their CFO.
For a business to move forward in a competitive, consumer-driven marketplace, its technology infrastructure must support—and mobilize—its growth. Technology investments are necessary to ensure the proper, secure, and optimal use of business data and to enable back office, front office, and management-level employees to work efficiently and effectively. This means IT leadership and their resident expertise needs a seat at the table in the executive boardroom.
Innovate Today, For Tomorrow
Embracing change—and making the technology investments required to enable it—is something that’s borne by company culture, from the top-down. There’s a mindset that accompanies digital innovation, characterized by a willingness to take some risk (even minimal) in order to provide employees what they need to deliver an exceptional customer experience and, ultimately, act on the company’s mission. That doesn’t mean anyone, on any level, should blindly jump into using the “next cool thing” offered from the tech world, but if the company is faced with a viable solution for a real business need, it’s nice to have the flexibility to at least consider it.
Businesses are investing in cloud computing solutions for a wide variety of reasons: they’re affordable, scalable, and built for the way people work and the way data “moves” today. Maintaining a competitive edge is equally important, making “Now is the time to invest so we don’t fall behind” a compelling argument for IT.
Technology is, after all, paving the way forward for companies of all sizes. International Data Corporation predicts that SMBs will spend a total $602 billion on IT in 2018—an increase of 4.9% over 2017. And for cloud computing, Bain & Company estimates that revenues for public and private cloud hardware, software and services are now 16% of the $1.1 trillion enterprise IT industry. What’s more, they forecast cloud demand will account for 60% of IT market growth through 2020.
For more insights, don’t miss The Factors Driving Cloud Adoption and Digital Transformation in 2018—and Beyond.
Speak the C-Suite’s language
While addressing the intersections of IT, strategy, and an “innovation culture,” it’s critical to present a strong business case that executives can rally behind. They need to see the business value in what you’re proposing—and conceptual selling points may not pack as much punch as hard numbers.
Establishing your company’s need for new technology may be as simple as sharing some operational and financial metrics that demonstrate how data delays and inaccuracies are stifling performance or keeping the company from identifying and pursuing opportunities.
As for getting a consensus on a solution, cloud-based business software tends to be an “easier” sell than yesteryear’s on-site systems because of its inherent affordability, ability to get up-and-running faster, and (therefore) shorter path to ROI. Even still, you may need to get help from solution vendors and your IT consultants. They tend to have excellent resources, from success stories to sell sheets, that can help you make the case for new technology.
Contact us if you’d like more insights into what it takes for executive leadership to align behind the right IT systems and software—and start taking your business to the next level.