Selling the benefits of IT: how to win support from the C-Suite

Mark Gambino

Monday 17 October 2016

Any business can experience growing pains when faced with the prospect of adopting new technology. But convincing the decision-makers to take the leap needn’t be as difficult as it seems. Here are five key tips to help encourage your management team to embrace your words of IT wisdom.

Securing support for IT projects and solutions from the C-Suite and others within the business can be challenging, especially if your organisation is more traditional or shy of change. And when your background is technical, it can be hard to remember that others in your company don’t speak ‘technese’. Knowing how to get your point across effectively is the key to winning success for your initiatives, improving your company’s IT operations and moving forward as a business.

1. Avoid jargon to win friends and influence people

With so many acronyms, equipment, software protocols and indecipherable model numbers, it can be easy to feel like you live in a glass tower when you’re in charge of your small and medium business’ (SMB’s) IT.

The best way to prevent people’s eyes glazing over when you talk tech is to keep it simple. Avoid jargon and talk about the technology in language that’s easy to understand.

For example, instead of explaining how two pieces of equipment work together, talk about why they work together and importantly, what they accomplish.

By enabling a layman to understand technical operations in the beginning, solutions you suggest later will be easier to digest.

2. Borrow the discoveries of industry heavy hitters

Corporations riding the crest of the digital wave are in constant contact with their market via countless surveys and client feedback discussions. Leveraging their discoveries can help you converse with your company’s decision makers.

Market leaders, like Accenture and Symantec, have built their credibility, not to mention their corporations, on years of in-depth informative and innovative studies of the digital industry. Look at reports and findings from publicly available resources, (such as annual digital mobility surveys) and highlight areas that pertain to your business. Basically, you’re doing the legwork by providing research and insights that will allow your superiors to more confidently make a decision.

3. Help formulate your company’s digital strategy

You’re the expert. You’re a voice that people listen to, so push aside notions of observing rank and bend the king’s ear now and then.

No, we’re not talking about boring folks with tales about mobile risk management, when all they wanted was to chat about Game of Thrones by the water cooler.

If you can identify areas of the business that could be enhanced by your recommendations, your advice can become part of a larger strategy for growth.

Simply saying “we should do things this way” will never have the impact of a well-considered proposal that aligns with your company’s objectives.

As you identify problems or areas of potential growth, also offer solutions and make sure your ‘expert’ advice aligns with your company’s mission and doctrine.

4. Sell the benefits

Not a day goes by where we don’t see new hardware, software and apps hitting the market globally. Keeping abreast of this innovation is a job in itself. Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of the equipment or software required – or the apps that can augment these two.

Simplify and focus on what will be gained, what practices will be improved, or what expenses will be saved. The key is to talk about why your suggestions will bring value to the entire business, not just individual departments.

5. Be realistic about the risks

Forewarned is forearmed. The digital frontier is in some ways still a wild west, where risk management can be just as difficult as predicting the next YouTube hit.

Nobody in the C-suite likes surprises. Network equipment can have vulnerabilities or become obsolete, no website is invulnerable to attack by a hacker, and mobile devices can be lost or stolen. The best way to prepare for these potential problems is to discuss them upfront.

There are many online resources available with ideas to incorporate into your risk management strategy. For example, Lloyd’s 360° Risk Insight report is a great tool to help you and your boss mitigate digital risk.

The next time you have to address a member of the management team about recommendations for your SMB’s digital wellbeing, take an honest approach to IT strategy. If you highlight the benefits and offer solutions in a simple and clear way, you’ll never feel like you’re talking two different languages again.


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