How to Sell Digital Transformation to Your Boss

How to sell Digital Transformation to your boss

Digital Transformation is the biggest game-changer for businesses in this decade. Literally no business will stay unaffected. The time it takes for it to affect your business varies from one business to another. There are businesses, especially B2C, who are already greatly affected by Digital Transformation. B2B SMBs will have a little more time to adapt.

Let’s assume that you are some kind of Digital Transformation evangelist. Most likely, you aren’t the CEO. However, if you were the CEO, it would be very easy to start the Digital Transformation process—you would just set the project into motion! But since you are probably not the CEO but see the necessity of Digital Transformation, you must ask yourself, “How should I sell Digital Transformation to my boss?”

I have personally thought a lot about this issue. If you consider yourself a Digital Transformation evangelist, you are likely way ahead of your colleagues and boss in your understanding of the Tsunami that is heading our way.

It is necessary that you share your knowledge within the company. This is a process of educating minds and changing perspectives. Only with the necessary knowledge regarding all aspects of Digital Transformation is a business able to transform. If you are the only one who understands this subject, forget it! The others won’t understand or believe in what you’re talking about.

Of course, there are different ways to approach this depending on the corporate culture of the business you are in.

No 1—Presentation of Digital Transformation to the Board

Board Meeting

The most obvious way to start is to prepare a detailed, educational presentation about Digital Transformation and share it with your boss and the entire board. The ultimate goal is to convince them that this is a worthwhile and urgent task. Because of your in-depth preparation, you will be able to answer all of their questions with authority. So far so good.

I would like to say that it might work, but it most likely will not. If the board already knows about Digital Transformation and understands its urgency, your efforts will pay off. If they ask you to execute the project, you can be sure it has worked! It still won’t be easy because many others within your organization have to be convinced. That being said, many of you will nevertheless move on to “No 2—Plant seeds, let them grow, and reap.” I do want to mention that some of you are much too far ahead of those you will try to convince, that they probably won’t comprehend what you are talking about.

Despite that, you should still understand the next option, so let’s take a look at it now.

No 2—Plant seeds, let them grow, and reap

This strategy might be an appropriate model if there is no knowledge about Digital Transformation within your company. In this approach, you will talk to colleagues and attract their attention by presenting examples of what is possible in their own departments through Digital Transformation.

Gather information

The first and most important point is, of course, that you gather as much information about Digital Transformation as possible. If you want to be an evangelist, then you need to know all of the details! Understand how Digital Transformation will affect different departments of your business, and gather as many specific examples as you can. You will find a lot of points to start with in this blog.

It is most useful to visit tradeshows and other Digital Transformation meetings. The Financial Times just organized executive briefings on manufacturing of the future, where I was invited as a speaker. I consider networking and the exchange with other professionals in this field crucial.

Start with your team

It is an obvious choice to start with your own team. See who will support your ideas about Digital Transformation. For instance, we had a daylong brainstorming session and everyone contributed their ideas. At the end of the day, we had a good bunch of ideas to work with. It became evident that cloud technologies are a vital part of Digital Transformation. So, we looked into all of our systems and checked which of those could be moved to the cloud. Would we be able to use SaaS or IaaS?

If you are in marketing, for instance, you might look into social media and how to leverage the various platforms for your Digital Transformation ideas. Production is another field where digitalization in the form of industry 4.0, Internet of things, 3-D printing, etc. is emerging right now.

Talk to your colleagues, plant seeds

Talking with peers in your company is probably one of the most important things you can do. Use your lunch break for discussions on Digital Transformation. Whenever you discuss processes or things that can be improved, layer in the topic of Digital Transformation. Make them think! Constant dropping wears away a stone. This way, you attract attention to Digital Transformation, and it will become more and more common in your conversations. It eventually will spread to all of the company!

Allow your colleagues to inspire you

This may sound a little awkward since you are the one who is inspiring your colleagues. But after you have planted enough seeds, you will find that others approach you with your own ideas (which they, of course, consider theirs!). If you are clever, you won’t insist that these were your ideas. Instead, praise them for their “new” ideas and be supportive! If you do this, you will build real allies and supporters for the Digital Transformation project.

Involve the board now

Now that you have planted the seeds and started “reaping” the ideas of your colleagues, it will be natural to bring up the ideas to the board. You now have the support of your peers. If the CEO asks anyone in the leadership team about their perspective, he will get the answer, “yes, we are looking into Digital Transformation in our department as well.”


In my career, I have experienced that there are so many naysayers—people who will tell you that they have been doing the same things for 20 years now without any problems, so why change it?

If you want to convince the naysayers, you have to build a team of “yeasayers” who will support the idea of Digital Transformation. If your CEO doesn’t start a Digital Transformation project but you are convinced that this is necessary for your company, this might be a strategy that will work.

I would like to hear your ideas about this. What have you done to bring Digital Transformation to the attention of your boss? Leave your comments please and let’s start a discussion.

About Alexander

Alexander Buschek is passionate about Digital Transformation and the opportunities it gives businesses—especially MSEs. He is convinced that every business has to embrace Digital Transformation in one way or another in order to survive. The sooner a business begins its Digital Transformation, the better. Alexander was the CIO / CDO of Braunschweiger Flammenfilter and CIO of Cherry GmbH. Prior to that he was an entrepreneur, consulting MSEs about IT strategies, providing external project management, and overseeing various IT projects (e.g. ERP and CAD implementation and migration). Working with many MSEs gave him a deep understanding of this market. Alexander is now Senior Director, Analyst (MSE) at Gartner.