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5 ways to get your c-suite on board with a digital transformation project | B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing’s recent report 

Adapt or die? Leadership in the era of martech

examined the importance of martech for executives involved in business transformation. On the topic of leadership, results revealed that while just under 70% of respondents considered digital transformation a priority, only 29% said their c-suite suite was actively engaged in the process. Neil Svensen explains how to get your c-suite involved in any digital transformation programme.

When we think about c-suite involvement in digital transformation, the first thing to consider is what your programme means for the business in the long term. While many transformation initiatives focus on discrete goals, this is usually – and ideally – just the beginning. An overhaul of systems and processes really signals a new era for the business. One where a digital-first, customer-centric way of thinking and working is at the heart of the business at all levels.

It’s a step that’s hard to take without c-suite engagement. In order for any digital transformation to deliver a sustained advantage, the board need to understand the wider potential of technological changes and incorporate this into their decision-making.

One of the most essential, but overlooked, aspects of digital transformation is a change in mindset – which needs to start with senior leadership. To see the opportunities technology brings, prioritise the right initiatives, unite stakeholders, and commit to constant evolution. It’s a considerable task, one that top executives often shy away from, or perhaps underestimate, leaving transformation to specialist departments. But board-level leadership can have a direct impact on implementation – and whether essential changes are even possible.

From high-level leadership to hands-on changes

Digital transformation affects the entire business, from HR to sales. Without representation and inputs from different divisions at the highest levels from the outset, managers can perceive that changes are happening unnecessarily, and without their needs in mind. As a minimum, this could create a lack of motivation to adopt and make the most of new systems. There’s also the more serious possibility that platforms or processes developed in isolation won’t be fit for use across the organisation.

When it comes to digital transformation, there’s often a disconnect between important programmes within the business and engagement at board level. According to a recent Econsultancy report, only one in five (21%) executives believe their CEO sets a clear digital vision for their business. One in five senior executives think their organisation’s latest digital transformation project is a waste of time.

For those tasked with leading digital transformation, there are some rules of thumb for bringing your C-suite into the process, and ensuring you have the inputs, sponsorship and collaboration that will make your initiative a success.

1. Engage everyone

It’s crucial to have engagement from all levels of the organisation, from board level downwards. This is a fundamental transformation programme that will touch every aspect of the business. To truly benefit from these innovations, an entire organisation will need to be engaged in the journey and adopt the mindset necessary to embrace new technologies.

One way to achieve this is to create integrated project teams that have the appropriate representation across all areas of the business. Building teams that combine the right insight and skills in this way will identify needs and solve problems quickly.

2. Find a common language

Explaining the complexities and benefits of a digital programme in layman’s terms is a skill. If it’s something your team struggles with, collaboration with marketing or sales will help, and make the conversation more accessible. Once you have a conversation that any person in the business can understand and participate in, you have the basis of collaboration across teams – a vital part of any digital programme.

3. Prioritise process

The sign-off process for a digital transformation may seem like a small part of a much bigger picture, but it can be the trickiest part for companies to agree on. Key to tackling it is early development of a responsibility assessment matrix that sets out a clear process across a blended team structure. This will help build a culture of collaboration and efficiency that will streamline decision making.

4. Keep the big picture in view

To overcome potential scepticism and resistance, it’s essential to show the transformation in a wider context. That it’s a natural, and essential, next step in your journey to serve your customers as only you can – thus seizing and cementing your advantage for years to come. When you can hit both marks of solving day-to-day operational snags and fulfilling your organisation’s long-term ambitions, you create a vision that brings the whole organisation together. One that c-suite leaders can draw on to inspire and motivate.

5. Show results

Digital initiatives can fail or stall where there’s no proof of measurable return. Case studies from outside your organisation are an important tool, but a test-and-learn approach within the business creates excitement and reassurance at the same time. Coming to the board with results of an existing pilot project or pocket of best practice shows the c-suite where to invest. In addition, this in itself constitutes a move to a more agile way of working, where business innovation is no longer top down, but comes from any team as and when they identify an opportunity.

Each of these steps takes a degree of forward planning, but when you consider how much of your project will stand or fall on c-suite engagement, it’s time worth taking. In the digital age, team leaders are finding that the board is now an important client, one that not only provides investment but also a gateway to the support you need from across the organisation.

In an era when turning your company into a top-quartile digital player can increase revenue by 3.5% and drive profits up to 15% higher than the competition, turning your c-suite into champions of change is an essential first step in your company’s future. 

Adapt or die? Leadership in the era of the martech transformation

The martech transformation is upon us. This report looks at the role tech is playing in enabling change and how marketing leaders are responding.

Tell me what I need to know about transformation

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