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How to make the business case for new tech

communication technology
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

It can be tough introducing new technologies into a business. Tech is essential to any business’s success but a lot of time, money, and resources goes into making new technologies work. And sometimes they just don’t. So it’s critical to put forward a clear, compelling, and well-thought-out business case for new tech to help pave the way for success. 

When it comes to acquiring and introducing these new technologies, it often falls to the CIO to make the business case, and a lot of weight falls on their shoulders to make sure they get it right when they are given the green light. But, they are not the only individual within a business that has the understanding or experience on how current technologies are performing and what would be required to make processes better and more efficient. 

The employees that are using the technology everyday are also able to provide valuable insights, simply because of their active day-to-day involvement. This is why, more often than not, teams can get frustrated and feel demotivated when their workplaces’ technology is not quite meeting their expectations or needs. However, to overcome this, employees need to have the right tools and information in place so that they can make a compelling and actionable business case for new technology to their senior team. 

The role of a CIO

In short, the CIO’s role is to oversee the management and implementation of new technologies that benefit the company and its customers. It is an important role. One that has probably had more light shed on it over the past 18 months due to the pandemic than previously, as the way companies do business has had to change and has led to a huge push on digital transformation and enterprise automation.

Very often, a CIOs C-Suite counterparts’ look to them for fresh insights and new tech-enabled initiatives. Yet, despite this, CIOs will find themselves in a position where they’re convincing peers that a complicated piece of tech is right for the business and unless their peers have a background in IT, they may not understand the mechanisms behind it. This can mean it is a difficult feat for the CIO, but it is one that a solid business case can help them with.

The importance of a strong business case

The business case provides CIOs with a tool that allows them to provide key decision-makers with the necessary information for their suggested project. Think of it as providing them with a clear and strongly articulated framework. It includes everything they need to know to assess the project’s potential, from the benefit and cost, to the risks and alternative options. Whilst the tech is central to the project, it allows the CIO to break it down into key points that business leaders understand and truly care about – ultimately answering the ever-important question: what will it do for the business?

Before pulling together the business case, it is essential to consider the following key points. This will help you know whether it is a project you should present to your business leaders, or not. If it is, you already have most of the information that you want to include in your proposal. 

#1 - Is the grass greener?

A great place to start is by asking the question - ‘does the business really need it?’. It is important to get clear on whether or not the business will be buying and implementing new technology for the sake of it. Yes, it can be shiny and new and maybe do some fancy things but how will it help the business? For example, some companies dream about doing a complete IT infrastructure overhaul, but they also see it as risky business, costly and an exceptionally complex process. It is important to be realistic about the suggestions that you are putting forward.

#2 – What issue(s) will it solve?

This really builds on the above point. Just like when assessing if the business really needs a new bit of tech, it is important to assess what issues said tech will resolve. Look at the benefits that it brings, what you’ll be able to achieve that you couldn’t before, but also do not ignore any downsides if there are some. Whilst you might be really passionate about it, you also need to be practical.

#3 – What is needed from the business?

As often is the case within business, there will be cost, time, and risk involved when introducing something new. Be upfront about these factors, but also consider what else is needed from the business to get the new tech to work, and work well. For example, whether staff will need to be trained and if so, which teams, when, and how. It is best to cover all of your bases, set expectations and plan the project out thoroughly. In addition, take into consideration any other projects that might be either in the planning stages, launching or recently launched, and how these all impact one another.

#4 – How can you get it to work

This stage is really the icing on the cake. So, you have thought about every other factor but what is really needed to get buy-in from your colleagues? You might be able to convince your seniors but how do your colleagues feel about this new bit of tech you are suggesting? Often a big pain point of introducing new tech is the issue of buy-in from the day-to-day users. If you know you have, or will have, backing from your colleagues it is definitely worth noting.

Food for thought

It is important for employees to have a voice when it comes to the tech that their business uses. They can provide valuable insights and businesses should encourage their employees to step forward and make suggestions. Nevertheless, a well-thought-out plan will go a long way. Corporate decision-making can be a minefield and there is more pressure than ever to get digital transformation right. However, these key steps should provide you with the clarity required when developing your business case. It will allow you to see the bigger picture and thoroughly plan out the project, ironing out any potential hiccups. It is critical to have a well-thought-out plan. 

Zahi Yaari, VP of EMEA, SnapLogic

Zahi Yaari is an advisor to multiple startups, helping with Business Development, GTM, New Logo acquisition, Sales Ops & MEDDIC.