3 Funding Tips for Digital Transformation - The Pitfalls to Avoid

by Jesse Spencer | August 23, 2018

Digital transformation creates new value opportunities for customers, employees, and shareholders. It empowers decision making and enables rapid and decisive action. With all the value that digital transformation provides, funding should be an easy sell, right? Wrong. It can seem like an uphill battle. But there’s hope!

The secret to getting buy-in is in aligning the deepest needs of the organization with the benefits that digital transformation provides. Toss out the spreadsheets and think in terms of enablement rather than cost.

Here are 3 common funding pitfalls and how to avoid them:

  1. It's [not] all about the ROI
  2. Digital transformation is [not] a project
  3. It's [not] all about the features

Common Funding Pitfalls to Avoid

#1: It’s all about the ROI

While smaller funding decisions are based entirely on ROI, an organization-wide digital transformation initiative is not one of those. Get approval for funding by communicating the value of the initiative based on non-ROI factors. Think about the impact digital transformation will have in terms of strategic business imperative.

Here are 3 key areas to focus on:

The Revenue Generating Activities of the Organization

Digital transformation is as much about keeping the lights on as it is about dealing with disruption from non-traditional competitors. Everything the organization does to generate revenue will benefit. Talk about the impact of digital transformation on the entire customer journey and the back-office systems that support it. You may even uncover new ways of monetizing existing activities and data.

Customer, Prospect, and Employee Perception

Think about how digital transformation will affect the way your organization is perceived. Pitch the idea of ensuring that customers and prospects will see the organization as more forward-thinking and a better investment. You’ll gain and retain better talent when employees see that the organization is relevant and growing.

Outpacing Competition

Digital is way more than just newer technology. Digital transformation not only empowers your organization to do what it does better, it also helps ensure you are focusing on the right things. The 7 most dangerous words in business: “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” are a sure sign that competition is about to break through the front door. Show how digital transformation will ensure your competitive edge is razor sharp.

#2: Digital transformation is a project

Digital transformation is more journey than project. What you need to sell is the idea of a continuous effort – a movement along a path of increased operational effectiveness. Show how digital transformation will help fuel the organization’s innovation and core competencies. Convey the idea that digital transformation isn’t a thing, rather it’s a way of doing business.

Spend time with end users and managers to uncover the deeper impact digital transformation will have on the work they perform. Weave your discoveries into the story of the digital transformation journey you are telling. The goal isn’t to become a master storyteller, but to clearly convey the deeper benefits the organization will receive.

The digital transformation journey should line up with the organization’s core mission. Your goal is to show a journey that enables significant and progressive growth.

#3: It’s all about the features

The goal of digital transformation is business enablement. Don’t focus on features and technical details when making a pitch for funding. Instead of talking about data analytics, business intelligence, and transforming IT systems, talk about the benefits.

One helpful exercise is to ask yourself “So what?” Here’s how it goes. Write down a core feature of digital transformation and then ask yourself “So what?” Your answer is a benefit that just might get a lot of attention.

Let’s do a simple exercise. A core feature (not benefit) of digital transformation is business intelligence. “So what?” Well, let’s say you work for a mortgage company and your mission is to provide clients with the best possible advice and mortgage financing solutions. One benefit of business intelligence is drastically improved real-time decision making. Other benefits could include increasing profitability, controlling risk more accurately, and delivering a more delightful customer service experience.

Help decision makers who hold the purse strings see that digital transformation is all about achieving results by empowering rapid and decisive action.

How to get started

Choose a technology partner who's in alignment with your culture and your pace of change. You'll feel confident, knowing that you are implementing the right solutions for the right reasons and at the right time. We’re big believers that the “think big, start small, move fast” approach is the perfect way to get started.

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