Resistance Is Useless: 7 Steps to Getting Digital Transformation Buy-In
July 23rd, 2019 (Updated 03/23/2021) | 9 min. read
By Tolu Oke
Digital transformation is the ultimate change management challenge for any company.
Every corner of a business is connected, from each individual task and activity to companywide processes and models. And it is this inter-dependency that makes digital transformation so essential. And so challenging.
It’s a major upheaval. It disrupts current processes, forces teams to change the way they work, and costs a pretty penny too. It’s no wonder the company puts up such a fight. “I have to learn new software?” “But we’ve always done it this way.” “That’ll take ages!” “A robot can’t tell me how pricing works!” “The TCO is how much?”
But you know, of course, that an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude won’t get you anywhere in today’s world. In fact, it’ll leave you lagging behind.
The future of your company demands transformation. And you know the right software can unlock productivity and give you that huge competitive advantage.
So, here’s how you convince the right people of the need for digital transformation.
1. Observer the Now: Know Where You’re Coming From
Before you start talking digital transformation (even just in your head!), you need to really understand your current business processes and technologies. Uncover all the sticking places, inefficiencies, and places of friction, and define how new technology can contribute to your long-term business goals, and whether that would be achieved best using integrated add-ons or starting from scratch.
Your transformation should have a specific purpose and not be done for transformation sake alone. If the company recognizes that you’ve watched, listened, and learned about the day-to-day runnings of the business before proposing changes, they’ll be much more likely to listen:
Your pricing team spends hours trawling competitor websites, or how they should align their pricing so as to remain competitive while still ensuring a profit. Your customers, however, are going to Amazon because they sell at prices you can’t even buy for. Your data team is stuck in the dark ages, manually inputting millions of products into Excel sheets that they’ll never have time to update or historically analyze, so prices are inflexible and arbitrary at best. But that’s how they’ve always done it. And your sales team do whatever they please regardless.
You know that a pricing solution that uses cutting-edge machine learning to weaponize your data and enable automatic and insight-driven pricing would not only boost in-house productivity, bring invaluable insights into customers and competitors, and reign in the sales team, but it would dramatically and positively affect the company’s bottom line.
So, before you start pushing the importance of data-driven decision making, gather your own.
2. Sell the Dream: Set Your Sights on Where You’re Going
Don’t promise the stars to the leadership team. They either won’t believe you, or they willーeither way you’re in trouble.
A digital transformation can be derailed by unrealistic expectations. But equally, by a proposal that doesn’t get executive support.
Approach them armed with the key pain points you discovered within the business, how a pricing solution can fix them, and clarify exactly what you want to achieve with your digital transformation. Define clearly how your proposed digital transformation will impact conversions, sales, customer experience, the competitor space, ROI, expenses, data management and security, and business processes in both the near and long term. Paint the big picture clearly for them. Have a realistic goal for how long it will take, and an all-encompassing budget proposal.
Find ways to prove your strategy works. Perhaps use pilots or proof-of-concept exercises. You may even need to work on improving leader’s digital fluency so they feel confident in making decisions about technology. And be prepared to dispel myths or long-held beliefs that have been holding the company back for decades.
3. Lock It In: Get Aligned and Committed
Whether you’re revolutionizing an existing model or starting from scratch, all company management must be on the same page and reach a consensus on the main goals of the transformation.
So, agree and define your high-level objectives. Is it boosting productivity? Driving revenue? Improving customer experience? Increasing team efficiency? Becoming more competitive?
Once you’ve all agreed on what your main goals are, follow them.
4. Take the Plunge: Getting Your Technology Right
A pricing solution should completely disrupt business as usual.
It should let you define and manage your own pricing strategy (including defining policy definitions and guidelines) to maximize profits (with price calculations and simulations) and should identify underperformances and their root-cause.
As well as bringing the sophistication of cutting-edge pricing tools and insight-driven pricing, you also want a solution that your team can use intuitively as it improves efficiency, cuts adoption learning curves, and alleviates resistance to the change.
Choosing a cloud-based solution makes you future ready and scalable, and dramatically reduces resources spent on maintenance, security, and upgrades. And choosing a vendor that offers essential integrations, ongoing support, and enhanced security will make your IT team happier and your transformation so much smoother.
Your solution should be chosen to meet current needs but should be able to grow with you to meet future-state needs too, and it should be flexible and responsive enough to allow you to continually optimize your pricing strategy with machine learning.
If you can prove you’ve listened to feedback and chosen technology with your employees (and all their daily tasks), as well as the leadership team and the agreed objectives in mind, you’ll have them on side in no time.
5. Spread the Love: Get the Whole Company Involved
It’s not a technology trip, it’s a business journey.
One of the key causes of resistance to a digital transformation is failure to loop in the whole business.
By keeping it all at leadership level and trying to keep hold of all the reigns, not only will you inadvertently create a silo of progress, but you’ll enter the realm of “us and them”, which (as school-like as it may be) will impact communication, collaboration, and adoption, and, therefore, transformation success.
For a truly end-to-end transformation, you’ve got to empower your staff on all levels to own the process so that it reaches even the dustiest corners of the business, and its processes and policies.
Spreading the responsibility and accountability for the success of the transformation companywide has been shown to increase a sense of accountability for meeting its objectives. It also spreads budgeting allocations, eradicates organizational silos, and ensures appropriate prioritization throughout.
But for this to work, transparency and clarity around responsibility is essential. As this will shift among teams during the process, each team must know who owns what element and at what point, so that handovers in accountability are aligned, smooth, and friction-free.
If you get the people management in digital transformation right, you’re onto a winner.
6. Keep It Fresh: Tweak Regularly and Adapt
There’s no “set it and forget it” button in a multi-year digital transformation.
You must stay flexible and adaptable. There will be regular updates and modifications to be made as you learn, progress, adapt, adjust, and learn some more.
Adjustments will be required to the strategy, processes, your expected outcomes, budget allocation, even people and teams. Flexibility has to be built into the very structure of the transformation as things will reveal themselves as you move from ideation through execution that you’ll need the resilience to work in and work with.
It’s a dynamic process, so adaptability is key. This level of flexibility requires monthly or even weekly tweaks that better the process and avoid letting it become its own monster.
Knowing you plan to manage the change in this way can also allay fears the leadership team has about things getting out of their control. Regular reviews will give them a sense of insight into and overall control of the process. But it’s important not to let them (or yourself) get too bogged down in the details when assessing the success of the transformation as a whole, keep the big picture in sight and your objectives in the foreground.
7. Keep It Light: The Only Way Is Agile
68% of companies identify agility as one of their most important initiatives. Why? Because change is part of everyday business.
Agile means the “ready ability to move with quick easy grace”.
It means breaking down big tasks into smaller ones and taking small steps; giving each team a clear mission, and the knowledge base to own it; evolving with a “test and learn” culture that encourages a fail-fast-learn-try again approach; and only packing (and paying for) what you need in terms of technology and people – pay as you go style.
Agility can help you survive hairpin turns in technology. It enables you to scale, move in many directions at once, continuously make improvements to processes, outcomes and experiences, and respond with speed to changes internally, to the industry at large, or to events on a global scale.
Who can resist all that?
This is an approach that needs an environment in which it can flourish, and technology to match, and it requires the right sort of digitally and analytically talented people to make it happen.
And you thought digital transformation was all about the technology!
Digital Transformation: Your Essential Next Step
There is no way around it. Change is coming (and coming and coming), so, you’re either being battered over and over on its way through, or you’re using its force to propel yourself forward.
With the right pricing software, you can ride that wave towards goals you’ve never let yourself dream of till now.