How to Get Internal Buy-In for Digital Transformation and Drive Adoption
Industry Leaders

ThinkContent Lab Learnings: How to Get Internal Buy-In for Digital Transformation and Drive Adoption

by Marta Ripoll

6 minute read

In June, NewsCred hosted a ThinkContent Labat London’s Soho House, where a group of Europe’s top marketers gathered to share their experiences navigating digital transformation.

The event concluded with a panel discussion and Q&A led by Charles Hough, NewsCred’s President & COO. The discussion was based around how to get internal buy-in for digital transformation, and how to plan, execute, and ensure adoption. The impressive panel included: Fabiola Stein, Head of B2B EMEA Marketing, HP, Graeme Stoker, Senior Marketing Manager, Fujitsu Global, Abdul Hamid Ebrahim, Director, Transformation Services EMEA, Oracle Customer Experience Cloudand Ben Glatz, Digital Transformation Lead, Shell.

Q+A: Digital transformation from buy-in to adoption

Q: How do you obtain executive buy-in for digital change?

Shell’s Ben Glatz began by admitting the difficulty that comes with getting leadership to buy-in. “It’s hard and it’s about people. It’s about understanding what drives them and what motivates them, what value there is for them.”

HP’s Fabiola Stein said that she has turned to segmenting internal audiences as well as leadership for internal buy-in. “What I prepare for execs is all about giving them the comfort of different scenarios. I prepare four scenarios — the first is the best case. Then there’s the second-best — if I don’t get all the budget and all the alignment, this is what I could deliver. The third one is a little bit less, but you still get something. And the 4th, which is still an option, is the status quo: we keep operating as we are, and we don’t change anything. Nobody wants to go forward as the status quo, so you’re forcing a decision. Then there is doing nothing, as some execs need 110% of the information.”

Glatz echoed Stein’s point of being in constant communication, “You need to be prepared and have hard conversations with leadership about driving change. It’s about ongoing communication and keeping that cadence up and really listening to them when concern comes bubbling up.”

Q: Are there key stakeholders or particular roles that need to be convinced upfront?

“It depends on the type of organisations you’re dealing with, but ultimately you need cross-functional buy-in,” said Abdul Hamid Ebrahim of Oracle Customer Experience Cloud. “The enterprise brands we work with buy MarTech for lead management, lead automation, marketing automation, CRM, and to help with organisational challenges and silos. The attitude is ‘we need to get it, it’s in the top right of the Gartner Magic Quadrant, let’s get it, let’s adopt it.'” Hamid Ebrahim explained the problem here is that sales and at times not even marketing are part of buying discussions and the needs aren’t properly uncovered, hindering the fit and adoption.

“You need to get sales and marketing leadership in a room together. That’s where integrating marketing along with sales and all the adjacencies come in. It’s surprising how little people speak across teams when they’re dealing with the same customer journey. The customer doesn’t care about your silos. It’s the B2Me world now.”

Q: How do you drive adoption?

“I think if you have a clear purpose and ambition then the transformation follows,” Stein explained. “We’re talking about technology and about business transformation, but at the center of it is people. Whether they’re the customers or whether they’re the people inside the organisation, that’s who you need on your side in order to execute successfully.”

“Putting the people at the heart of it is really important,” agreed Ben Glatz of Shell. He also cautioned that change fatigue is something he often hears, however, he warned that “the problem is that only more change is coming.”

Glatz also advised going too fast can often pose a real problem. “Sometimes you need to be empathetic with people and realise they may have a lot going on. Sometimes you just need to slow it down a bit regardless of what you committed to from a go-live date.” Stein added that the best way to help people deal with the constant state of change is to over-communicate.

Q: How do you communicate the value of new technology?

“Communication is quite important. We have the challenge at Oracle that when we’re selling the technology and CX, the mindset is ‘Oh, we just plug it in and it works,'” said Hamid Ebrahim. “However, the majority of the issues for our customers are around people, process, and working optimally with the data and technology. Thinking about communication is a massive element of that.”

To communicate effectively, Hamid Ebrahim explained that his team maps internal personas (similar to the way you’d map external personas if you’re in the content world) and utilises video and infographics (as opposed to thousand-word memos which are hard to retain) in order to position new technology in a way that will resonate with them, which is something Stein has also implemented at HP.

“At HP, we use the concept of capabilities mapping and develop one-to-one upskilling programs that are taken very seriously,” she explained. “There are people who have been in the company for 20 years and you can’t just come in and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to change your infrastructure and your job description, and you need to get on board.'”

Glatz concurred, saying, “Setting a vision in communication is vital. Most people who are at work want to do a good job and those people would like a simpler way of doing that job. People are not opposed to making their jobs and lives easier, yet often implementing the necessary chance to do that, people’s reactions are “oh no, I don’t really fancy that change.” He explained that that’s the reason why communication is so important. “You need to be able to explain the value of new technology to people and really articulate how it will directly impact them.”

Q: What other guidance can you offer from your experiences?

Graeme Stoker of Fujitsu Global gave this advice: “I firmly believe you need to have three pieces in place: the evangelist piece, the vision piece, and the orchestration piece. Evangelise a clear vision and don’t just put it up there and wait for it to somehow come together. You need the orchestration piece for execution.” He continued, “Marketers are curious, creative people and once these pieces come together, they want to see the thing they’ve worked so hard to put together actually working.”

Stein ended with a reiteration of the importance of being people-centric. “Transformations may look different depending on the size of a company, but if you put the people before the strategy, you’re more likely to succeed,” she said.

She also advised that timing can be an important factor in successfully implementing digital change. “In American companies, there is a culture of wanting to be a pioneer. But if you go in uncooked, unprepared, and your timing is wrong, you’re setting yourself up for a really bumpy ride.”

Stay tuned for the next article recapping the keynotes given by Shell’s Ben Glatz and Unilever’s Global E-Commerce Lead, Punit Parikh.


Marta Ripoll is a Sales Director at NewsCred.