Chester Carlson invented xerography in the late 1930s, and after more than 10 years of refinement, it was ready to become the Xerox we know today. Nonetheless, major corporations including IBM and Eastman Kodak all turned the concept down, and it still took until the 1960s for the office copier to become ubiquitous. It required time to explain to a corporate culture accustomed to carbon copies that a machine could do it more efficiently, offer significant ROI, save untold costs and vastly improve productivity.
The narrative of new technology for businesses tends to focus on those technologies rather than the processes for getting them in the first place. Whether introducing a copier, a computer or a camera, the forerunners of today's IT managers had to first prove to management the value of the new technology for your business on a conceptual level. As an IT manager today, you must continue to vouch for its value; the diversity and complexity of modern business technology require thoughtful planning to do this. Here are some strategies that will help.
Make sure everyone on your team understands the need for new technology solutions, how those solutions work and how they can help improve productivity. You might be the tech go-getter on your team, but having the rest of them behind you can make the case to management that much more compelling. Take the time to explain the systems and their benefits first. (This also serves as a useful debate exercise ahead of the actual pitch to management.)
For instance: Let the team know that adopting and adapting to new technology for business is simply a necessity in the post-COVID-19 corporate environment. A Deloitte analysis in 2020 discovered that since the onset of the pandemic, 75 percent of office workers have implemented at least two new types of technology for businesses.
A Harvard Business Review article about introducing new technologies for business suggests it's less an exercise in sales than in marketing. In a nutshell, it contends that a sale is a "one and done," while taking a marketing approach positions the vendor (you and your IT colleagues) and the customer (your management suite) as a collaborative team that needs each other to succeed. Any new technology for your business isn't just a singular proposition — it's a process that needs everyone on board to ensure everyone benefits. This is a great time to make the move: IT budgets in 2022 are expected to rise at a faster rate than they have in more than a decade.
It's one thing to know about a particular new technology for business applications yourself, but it's just as important to be aware of what your audience doesn't know. Anticipating their questions will allow you to take the lead in any follow-up conversations to your pitch. A useful way to rhetorically position new technology for your business is to highlight its similarity to more familiar tech platforms. For instance:
- An advanced videobar — like the Bose Professional Videobar VB1, which cleverly integrates a 4K ultra-HD camera, six beam-steering microphones and speakers into a single unit managed by its own DSP and software — might initially seem complex. But in some ways, it's no different in concept than the soundbars that have become ubiquitous in homes: compact, affordable and easy to use.
- If you're contemplating moving office data to a cloud-based storage solution, chances are everyone in the corporate suite has been doing exactly that on their smartphones.
- Emphasize a new technology's user-friendliness. Technology — as well as its accompanying interface — can be intimidating. Be prepared to explain how you'll implement and integrate a system or platform within the existing workflow, and also outline how training will take place.
Be prepared to show your math when it comes to validating the cost effectiveness of any new technology and its ROI. There are some generic formulas for helping make the economic case for new tech. This article from CSO suggests: "Consider calculating the ROI twice: once for the expected ROI and once for the worst-case scenario." While no one wants to present (or hear) a potential worst-case outcome, doing so offers two subliminal advantages: it suggests to the listener that you've really done your homework without bias, and by comparison, a positive scenario may look that much more attractive.
Upper management teams might seem bureaucratic, but they're made up of individuals, and one or more of them might resonate with the kind of technology your IT team is advocating for. If you're fortunate enough to have a CTO or CIO in your executive suite, that person should be the ideal bridge between your team and the rest of the C-suite, particularly if they rose through the tech ranks to that position.
Once you have the green light for new technology implementation, it'll make that road a lot smoother if corporate management wants to see it succeed. That means engaging them throughout the implementation and integration process. Regular project reports that document timelines, budgets and other key information are critical to bringing and keeping management on the team.
Everyone learns at different rates and in different manners, whether they're auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. This SmartSheet graph illustrates the uptake of new software and indicates what to expect from the integration of any new technology for businesses. Implementation and training take time and intentionality. Prepare to tailor training sessions to all types by providing a range of instructional materials and options such as documents, live training and videos.
Perhaps the biggest challenge IT managers face when introducing new platforms is the uncertainty or concern around implementation and whether it could disrupt work. You've identified the new technology for businesses you believe will improve company productivity. You've brought in your team, prepared a great pitch, are ready with answers for the technical and economic questions and have a training program ready to roll. But how do you assure top management that this project is going to run smoothly and successfully? No one can predict the future, but they can look to the past for guidance. Take look at Bose Professional's own portfolio of case studies, which reflect the smooth transition of a new platform with existing workflows.