AI ILLUMINATIONS: The Internal Sale of Automation


Finally, after all due considerations, you have decided to transform your financial services firm by adopting automation. What next?

“Enterprises must be able to promote their sophistication around automation externally, in the marketplace, and also advocate for it internally among stakeholders,” says Michael Partnow, Group President of Wealth Management at, an autonomous enterprise platform. “When firms look at automation initiatives, they need to be able to internalize the vision and communicate the need to use automation to solve business challenges problems across all their stakeholders.”

Mostly, such key transformational decisions are made by a committee or an executive sponsor in the organization.

“There could be a circle of influencers around the decision maker, such as the IT department, operations, HR, or customer experience teams,” Partnow suggests. “Then there are all the various internal stakeholders who might be directly or indirectly impacted by the change envisioned. As a person trying to bring about this change in the organization, you will need a comprehensive communication plan covering all of them. You will have to take inventory and figure out the critical problems those groups face every day.”

After figuring out the problems that resonate the most with these stakeholders, the team implementing automation can parlay the technological solution for those areas.

While the management or ownership might want to implement technology at the enterprise level to solve a business challenge, effective automation requires implementation that drills down to solve problems for each stakeholder.

“They have to understand that there’s a challenge and that can be solved,” says Partnow. “The challenge you’re looking for usually manifests itself in the form of pain, anxiety, discomfort, or something similar.”

The Disconnect

That brings us to another key question. How does new technology get adopted in an organization? In fact, this depends on where the demand for automation comes from.

“Even if reducing costs is your primary objective to adopt automation, you need people to opt in if you’re looking at bringing transformation across the organization.

So, if the call for automation comes from top-down, the management and ownership need to find a way to make the argument for change applicable to all of the employee-stakeholders impacted by the new technology,” says Partnow.

On the other hand, if the call for new technology comes from bottom-up, it needs to be effectively communicated up and down the organization, especially to leaders, who are often unaware when processes are broken.

Hierarchy of Value

Any good technology should be able to raise the company’s top line, reduce costs, and improve quality—all these are ‘table stakes.’

The next level is technology that enables strategic and operational improvements, saving time and reducing efforts.

“Still higher, you have more individual values and feelings, where it gets to more human level benefits like reducing anxiety or improving a person’s ability to expand their network,” says Partnow. “At the end of the day, people don’t strictly make reasonable, logical decisions; emotions play a huge factor.”

Many people are driven to buying decisions by new opportunities—for growth, for returns, for profitability. Similarly, people who buy technology solutions are usually driven by whatever “reduces pain and gets them home earlier. Marketers know that it’s the secret to getting an organization to buy new technology.

“A buying committee ought to have an overarching message that addresses an enterprise-level business challenge,” says Partnow. “That could be declining sales or declining productivity. We need to find the value levers in the company and lay out a trustworthy goal. It can’t just be that we’re going to save money by following these steps. It needs to be much more aspirational than that.”

Moving to New Tech

To make the transition to new technology as seamless as possible, Partnow says it’s important to communicate to all stakeholders as much as possible about ‘what’s in it’ for them.

“Emphasize that it will free up their time from doing mundane or concurrent tasks so they can focus on more strategic things, and show them why it’s true,” he says. “Show them how it might help them not have to address an e-mail at 2 a.m. because an executive might want something. As long as you truthfully promote the benefits of what’s in it for individuals, they generally will come around and adopt.”

Communication should be personalized to each individual staff member and must speak to their particular role. Most importantly, it needs to be “crisp.”

“Be strictly business-goal related when you’re talking to an executive. You have to mention that you’re getting buy-in from parts of the organization, and that it is happening for these specific business reasons,” Partnow adds.

Such cross-company communications campaigns for small, discreet projects may last for a couple of weeks, but for major automation projects they can last for as long as a year in large enterprises. The channels used can include digital and multi-media, one-to-one methods such as phone calls, webinars, in-person conferences (where possible), e-mails and documentation.

“Of course, there is no prescribed size and shape for such communication projects, but they do have a starting and ending point; and in-between you should be picking up supporters along the way,” Partnow says. “You will also pick up detractors. You need to understand the audience, their role in the organization, their pain points, and then sell the transformation to them.