So you’ve got a great new idea for how technology-driven innovations can transform your business, reinvent the way employees work, and/or drive customer obsession. That’s a great start! But too many of you tell us, “I’m really excited about this new idea, but I can’t get the internal buy-in that’s needed to fund the initiative.”
Building a business case and influencing your peers is key to every technology initiative, so overcoming this obstacle is critical. One of our new reports can help. Duncan Jones and I coauthored a new version of the report, “Build The Business Case For Fast, Connected Technology.” Would-be innovators are often stymied by outdated, accounting-driven notions of how to construct a business case. This report gives leaders practical tools (including a customizable financial model and a sample pitch deck) to build next-generation business cases. The approach we take includes numerous best practices; here are two:
I. Center the analysis on customer obsession. Too many traditional business cases are exercises in trying to prove that investments will recover their costs. But conducting a cost-based exercise doesn’t get to the heart of why you should be innovating with new technology: to better win, serve, and retain customers. Our business case approach constructs a vision of customer value rather than just a tally of costs and benefits.
II. Build the business case using a lifecycle methodology. Too often, leaders think of a business case as a one-time checklist item. But the best practice — which will increase your likelihood of success — is to think of a business case as a lifecycle, an iterative process that involves many stakeholders and steps. This lifecycle has five phases:
1) Establish a baseline with external numbers. Many leaders who build business cases stop here: using externally derived data and applying it to internal (but untested) assumptions. This should instead be used as a starting point — an asset you can use to start the conversation, not end it. Start with a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI)-style model and start iterating.
2) Build internal consensus. Many technology leaders didn’t imagine they’d have to develop political, diplomatic, and evangelist skills. But as the champion of a technology initiative, you’ve got to cultivate those skills to build allies. Going one by one, you’ve got to pitch the idea to peers in a variety of roles, then take their feedback and make the pitch better.
3) Expand the vision. Innovation is about vision and strategy, not just metrics. Here, you’ve matured your consensus and can build a customer-obsessed vision that will convince upper management to invest in a pilot.
4) Launch a pilot. Key to this effort will be collecting not just costs and benefits but customer data. Our model helps you integrate data, such as from the Customer Experience Index (CX Index™), into your consideration.
5) Refine the business case with real data. Here you reestablish the business case, again building upon a TEI foundation but legitimately populating it with real data and especially customer data.
The three assets here — a report, an Excel model, and a PowerPoint file you can use to actually pitch your ideas internally — will help clients increase the likelihood of winning internally. We invite clients to check out all three assets here.
J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst serving CIOs. He leads Forrester’s research on the impact that automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics have on the future of work, the future of jobs, the economy, and CIO strategies. He also covers innovation in the context of disruptive devices and interfaces — from PCs to mobile devices and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) to software and intelligent agents — and how these technologies drive improvements in employee experience and business outcomes. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.