Skip to content
Featured image: A Playbook for Technology Managers to Maximize Internal Buy-in
Foresight | Tech Management

A Playbook for Technology Managers to Maximize Internal Buy-in

Technological change has never been more rapid and impactful. Consequently, the role of technology scouts and analysts continues to grow in importance. Most large corporations have multiple positions responsible for scouting and managing emerging technologies across functions such as R&D, new product development, marketing, and innovation management.

But what happens when a new technology is discovered that would suit the company’s needs? Is everyone on board from the beginning, or does the internal adoption process require some finesse?

From our experience working with 250+ leading companies across the globe, ensuring internal buy-in for new technologies is often a tedious and frustrating endeavor for technology experts. This article presents an actionable playbook, covering the key steps to secure internal buy-in and actionable strategies to persuade key stakeholders.

The evolving role of technology managers

Keeping up with new technologies is crucial for a company's long-term success. Innovations like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and advanced robotics are changing the game for industrial corporations, improving efficiency and creating new ways of working along the way.

This rapid evolution elevates the importance of technology managers, who are at the forefront of spotting and understanding these emerging trends. Their role is more than just scouting: it's about ensuring that companies are ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges these technologies bring. As strategic navigators, technology managers are key to guiding their organizations toward future profitability and competitive edge—making them indispensable in the landscape of modern business.

While most companies are aware of the radically changing technology landscape, broad internal adoption of emerging technologies remains a key issue. In a survey of 140 innovation executives from companies with revenues greater  than $1 billion, analysts at InnoLead found that, on average, senior leaders rate their company’s ability to take action on new technologies at 4.8 on a scale from 0 to 10 (Harvard Business Review, 2019). Considering that around 75% of companies are currently in a state or on the brink of disruption due to technological change, this deficit in effective technology adoption is one of the predominant threats to companies’ future profitability and even survival.

As the landscape of innovation shifts, technology managers are finding that their roles must evolve beyond merely identifying new technologies. A crucial aspect of their job now involves fostering internal adoption, pinpointing the right audiences within their organizations, and generating robust buy-in. This task is fraught with challenges, including overcoming resistance to change, bridging the gap between technical potential and practical application, and communicating value effectively across different levels of the organization.

Compounding these difficulties is the scarcity of clear, actionable guidelines that managers can follow to streamline the adoption process. Recognizing this critical gap, the playbook presented in this article offers a structured, step-by-step framework designed to facilitate the internal adoption of new technologies, ensuring technology managers are not just scouts of innovation but also architects of change within their companies.

To lay the groundwork for the playbook, let’s first put ourselves in the shoes of the potential adopters in R&D and product development teams, business divisions, or functional units. In today's busy work environment, decision-makers and adopters are often too caught up in daily tasks to consider new technologies. They will only pay attention to a new tool or system if it clearly benefits their work. For them, adopting a new technology is an effort-intensive process of change—a process that, fortunately, can be heavily facilitated by the thoughtful guidance of an engaged technology manager.

Internal Technology Adoption - Explore, Evaluate, Engage

In our experience, the cycle of technology adoption usually involves three activity streams on the adopter’s end (see also the Figure above):

  • Explore, which involves realizing how the new technology could benefit the adopter and drive business performance

  • Evaluate, which involves finding specific areas of application and the most promising use cases for the technology

  • Engage, which involves executing the internal roll-out of the technology into business operations and commercialization

To create sustainable buy-in and ensure timely implementation of emerging technologies, technology managers must carefully address all three activity streams and support internal adopters throughout. They must identify the key roles and persons involved in each stream, provide targeted communication to serve their needs, engage in continuous change management, and demonstrate the technology’s value throughout. This involves a considerable effort of careful and structured planning—an effort that is worthwhile, though.

In our experience consulting large corporations across industries, a structured and comprehensive approach aligned to the three activity streams above can tremendously boost new technology adoption, increasing the number of successfully implemented technologies by two to three times while cutting the duration of adoption cycles by 50-80%.

5 key steps for creating buy-in and achieving new technology adoption (+ one bonus step)

We advocate that technology managers adopt a targeted approach built around guiding internal stakeholders through the cycle of exploring, evaluating, and engaging (see Figure below). One central implication from the comprehensive picture of technology adoption outlined above is that technology managers must take a very focused approach. Instead of relying on a spray-and-pray approach to communicating new technology insights (that we experience in many organizations), technology managers need to be willing to start small and be very intentional in their approach.

Remember this: persuading one or two units in the company to actually adopt a new technology to full extent may only create a small business impact initially—but it will also provide you with valuable success stories that can trigger a much broader and more rapid company-wide adoption down the road. In contrast, sparking interest amongst hundreds of stakeholders but having them drop off at a later point will create no impact at all.

Playbook Technology Managers

1. Identify and prioritize key stakeholders

We recommend you start by identifying and focusing on parts of the organization that could be early adopters. Early adopters are usually more open to trying new things and can lead the way, showing others in the company how new technologies work and add value. Their success with these technologies can encourage others to follow suit, making it easier for new tools or systems to be accepted and used across the company. This is why technology managers should look for these early adopters or lead users first, as their experiences can help speed up everyone else's adoption of new technologies.

To find early adopters, look for signs of openness to change, a history of trying and advocating new things, or frustration with current business performance and existing solutions. You can use surveys, interviews, or look at past technology projects to see who was eager to try something new. Also, consider which parts of the company have goals matching the new technology. This targeted approach ensures the initial focus is on those most likely to embrace and champion new technologies, setting a solid foundation for broader adoption.

When it comes to who you should target for technology adoption within a business unit, consider the following three roles:

  • The executive is the one who makes the big decisions and can give the support and resources needed.
  • The manager knows the day-to-day problems and can tell you how a new technology might solve them.
  • The professional will actually use the technology and can give feedback on how it works in practice.

Getting all three on board is key to overcoming any hesitations and making the technology adoption process smooth.

To help you get started, here are some pro tips for identifying early adopters as well as one inspirational example from our client base:

Align technology with
strategic goals
Assess readiness and
capacity for change
Engage with internal
technology enthusiasts
Identify units whose strategic goals align closely with the benefits of the new technology. For instance, you can create a matrix that maps technology features against strategic goals of different units to find the best fit. Evaluate each unit's current workload, openness to innovation, and previous success with technology projects. For instance, you can develop a quick survey that measures these factors, offering insights into where to start your efforts. Look for individuals who are already exploring or advocating for new technologies within the organization. For instance, host an internal innovation showcase where these enthusiasts can share their projects and insights.

INTEL’s corporate foresight program centers around identifying emerging technology trends as well as driving new technology implementation in the company. In the course of this,the key focus of the team is to proactively approach business units and teams to understand the problems they are working on, their key questions about technological advancements, and their development needs and business goals. The in-depth information gathered then serves to identify early adopters in technology areas such as AI, sustainable manufacturing, and material science.

“Identifying the stakeholders and those that ultimately make decisions, whom you are trying to influence, can be a challenge all in itself since topics vary. It depends on how you approach them with it. Keen awareness of your influence level with the various stakeholders is essential. Do they know and trust you? What's the depth of that relationship? Are you a trusted adviser or an unknown name among many? If you don't have that strength of association, can you somehow win them over and build it? If you don't have that, do you know who their trusted advisors are, and how can you leverage them to support you in the scope of the big picture?”

- John Miranda (Senior Director, Strategy Office, Data Center & AI Group)

Access the complete podcast episode →

2. Anticipate questions along the adoption journey

When thinking about adopting a new technology, internal stakeholders must ultimately answer—and often revisit—a broad range of questions centered around the activity streams of exploring, evaluating, and engaging. To get answers to those questions, potential adopters rely on a wide variety of research, interactions with peers, experts, and influencers, and, of course, with the technology manager who initially brought in the emerging technology insight. The more technology managers are prepared to answer these questions with the right messages and communication formats, the more likely they will be able to drive successful adoption.

Focusing on the questions of potential adopters, you will recognize that there is oftentimes a considerable overlap between stakeholders in your organization. Of course, specific teams and units may have specific knowledge gaps or require additional levels of details or reference points; but overall, you will find that many discussion points are recurring across the company.

Thus, we recommend that you start building a list of the key questions you encounter when discussing new technologies with people in your company. Do not just stop at questions that are asked directly, but also be careful about questions and doubts that are merely implied and cannot be easily addressed verbally—those usually point to very crucial needs of information and persuasion at the adopter's end. Remember: to drive adoption, you need to focus your efforts on what the potential adopter needs to learn, not on what you personally want to tell them about the technology.

To structure the exercise of building that list, map the key questions to the adoption cycle activity streams (explore, evaluate, engage). Stakeholder questions will differ considerably depending on the stage of the adoption cycle.

  • When exploring, common core questions are “What business outcomes can be achieved by adopting the technology?” or “How can adopting the technology support us in reaching our goals?” 

  • When evaluating, questions tend to center around topics such as “Which of our products would benefit from integrating the technology?” and “What amount of investment is needed?” 

  • Finally, when engaging, stakeholders may ask, “What steps should we follow to implement the technology?” or “What is a realistic timeline for roll-out?”

By mapping the questions along those dimensions, you can anticipate the questions' timing and ensure that your responses cover all steps of the adoption cycle. Similarly, it often makes sense to further map the questions to stakeholder roles (executives, managers, professionals). Depending on their position in the company’s hierarchy, people will ask different questions; be sure to anticipate the information needs of the people you are talking to at any given moment in the adoption process.

When thinking about the questions of internal adopters, the following tips and inspirations may also come in handy:

Develop a comprehensive
FAQ document
Anticipate resistance and
plan responses
Listen to what is 
not being said
Compile a list of frequently asked questions and answers based on previous technology implementations and initial discussions with stakeholders. Continuously update this document based on new inquiries and challenges, making it a living resource for everyone involved. Many of the questions that potential adopters ask will have a negative undertone. Embrace such resistance as a chance to spark discussion and prepare reasoned, empathetic responses to address these concerns. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and underlying concerns that stakeholders may not explicitly express, as these can reveal deeper reservations about the technology adoption. Use active listening techniques during discussions to encourage stakeholders to share their true feelings and concerns.

At Ericsson ConsumerLab, exploring the transition from mobile to Extended Reality (EX) and Augmented Reality (AR) is a crucial task. To drive the adoption of those technologies in the organization, the team is running comprehensive internal studies and gathers feedback to anticipate concerns about XR / AR, addressing its practicality, ease of use, and the potential to enhance user and product experiences. 

“We are still sort of understanding while doing the main analysis, but we can see today that there is obviously a clear appetite for XR experiences. [...] So I think one stigma of VR is ‘Oh, it’s only for gaming or it’s only for watching movies’. But what we are actually seeing is that beyond that, there is really an opportunity to enhance daily activities like real-time navigation or real-time translation.”

- Jana Uthayakumar (Global Foresight, Data & Analytics Lead)

Access the complete podcast episode →

3. Craft compelling messages

After figuring out what questions adopters might have, it's important to create messages that answer these questions clearly. The aim is to give adopters the information they need in a way that's easy to understand. For every big question or concern, there should be a message that helps explain, teach, and make the adopter feel more comfortable with the new technology. This approach helps adopters feel like their needs are being met, making them more open to trying the technology.

Every message we create should show the value of the new technology. It's about finding the right mix of showing what could be possible in the future and what's useful right now. For example, a message about using nanotechnology in automotive manufacturing might point out how it can make materials lighter and stronger, leading to cost savings in the short-term as well as long-term customer value due to better endurance of wear parts. This shows the immediate and practical benefits of adopting the technology.

Messages should not just talk about what's good right now; they should also give a view of the future. They should show how things can get even better over time. For instance, starting with AI in manufacturing might first help with predicting when machines need repairs, reducing downtime. But as time goes on, AI can learn and improve the entire manufacturing process, leading to big jumps in productivity and innovation. This way, the message covers both the short-term benefits and the exciting possibilities for the future.

In addition, check out the following best practices and inspirations:

Numbers set bounds;
vision fuels passion
Clarify the 
change impact
Address the elephant 
in the room
Do not stop at the rational benefits and impacts that the technology can provide but also incorporate emotional aspects. People care about empowering others through technology, being recognized as pioneers, and beating peers by solving problems uniquely. Clearly communicate how the new technology will change daily workflows, roles, and responsibilities within the organization. Use visual aids like flow charts or diagrams to illustrate before-and-after scenarios, making the impact of changes easier to understand.  Every new technology comes with risks, imperfections, and constraints. Demonstrate self-awareness by showing that you have given ample thought toward addressing fragile areas early and have deliberate mitigation plans in hand.

With AI emerging as a disruptive force in the insurance industry, ERGO’s Advanced Analytics Unit works hard to establish AI and machine learning as an “enabler for innovation” in the organization. In doing so, the team centers their internal communication around the topics of relieving employees from repetitive tasks and enhancing customer interactions. Well-aligned with the company’s broader strategic goals of improving efficiency and customer satisfaction, their compelling message is a great example of communicating tangible value potentials.

“What we try to do at ERGO is to keep the employees away from repetitive tasks so that people can really concentrate on the customers and make it even more personal. [...] We really try to work output-driven. We are looking for where we can make an impact, but we do not need a full firework or anything. At the moment, it's OK for us to just provide impact. Very close to the business units and say, where are the small pain points you have where automation, optimization, everything that makes ML really powerful help on that side.”

- Dr. Sebastian Kaiser (Head of Machine Learning)

Access the complete podcast episode →

4. Find the right formats for communication and collaboration

Getting the message across about new technology isn't just about what you say; it's also about how and when you say it. Technology managers must think carefully about choosing the right time and way to talk to their teams. This means not only picking the right words but also finding the best method and moment to deliver them. Doing this well can make the information more interesting and easier for everyone to understand and accept.

Technology managers should use a mix of ways to talk and listen. Alongside emails and meetings, they should try out interactive Q&A sessions, and even informal chats on platforms like social media or internal chat tools. These less formal ways help everyone feel more comfortable and open, making it easier to share thoughts and ask questions. By mixing up how they communicate, technology managers can reach everyone in the way they prefer, making sure the message gets through clearly.

As technology adoption moves forward, different ways of sharing information and collaborating work better at different times.

  • During the explore phase, showing demos and having workshops can spark interest. 

  • In the evaluate phase, gathering a small group for focused feedback or testing out the technology helps understand how it fits in. 

  • And when it's time to start using the technology in the engage phase, having regular meetings to check on progress and setting up a help desk for questions are good ways to keep things moving smoothly.

By changing how they communicate and collaborate through these phases, technology managers can keep everyone involved and supported as they start using the new technology.

Also, when searching for the right formats for communication and collaboration, consider the following:

Create scenario-based demonstrations
external validation
Utilize visual tools for
complex ideas
Use real-life scenarios to demonstrate how the technology addresses specific problems or improves processes. Tailor these scenarios to the daily tasks and challenges of different stakeholder groups to make the benefits more relatable. Use case studies, testimonials, or benchmarks from similar organizations to bolster your case for the new technology. Invite external experts or partners to share success stories and answer questions during a dedicated session with potential stakeholders. When explaining complex technologies or processes, use visual aids like diagrams, flowcharts, and videos to clarify your message. Develop a library of reusable visual content that can be easily accessed and shared with stakeholders during discussions or presentations.

E.ON, as one of the world's largest private energy service providers, is on a mission to think, plan and implement the energy transition - at scale. This involves venturing into a broad range of emerging technology areas such as carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage, hydrogen fuels, renewables, and smart grids.To help the company execute on growth opportunities, their foresight unit deploys a well-thought-out and carefully structured approach, utilizing tools like trend radars to communicate future visions and strategic insights across the organization.

“I would say the impact comes when you have the insights. It’s only then that you can even think about the impact. But once you have the insights, you need certain formats, or I call them anchor products, with which you can generate the impact. One of our anchor products is the trend radar alongside our core beliefs on the energy transition: sustainability, convenience, and resilience. But it's also certain formats. We have certain workshop formats to get the information and spark a discussion. Because if you only write reports and drop them somewhere, even if it's the intranet, it won't work, just won't work.”

- Thomas Boermans (Head of Foresight)

Access the complete podcast episode →

5. Measure and showcase success

Congratulations, you have successfully navigated the initial hurdles of creating buy-in and securing investment from key stakeholders for an emerging technology. This milestone marks a significant achievement in the journey of technology adoption. However, it is crucial to recognize that this victory is just the beginning. The path to broad adoption across the organization remains a challenge, requiring sustained effort, strategic follow-through, and the ability to leverage early successes to fuel wider organizational change.

To ensure the momentum is not lost, technology managers must remain closely engaged with early adopters, monitoring the integration and utilization of the new technology. This involves regular check-ins to track progress, celebrate milestones, and gather insights. Early wins, no matter how small, should be highlighted and shared as tangible evidence of the technology's benefits. Furthermore, collecting detailed feedback and additional use cases from these initial implementations can provide invaluable data. This continuous loop of feedback and acknowledgment not only reinforces the value of the investment but also supports ongoing optimization of the technology's use.

The narratives crafted from the success stories of early adopters are instrumental in crossing the chasm to reach the early and late majority within the organization. These real-life examples serve as powerful testimonials of the technology's impact and potential, fostering a groundswell of support and interest among the wider employee base.

It is imperative for technology managers to proactively gather, curate, and disseminate these success stories, turning them into compelling case studies that underscore the technology's value proposition. By doing so, they can significantly enhance company-wide confidence and enthusiasm, creating a fertile environment for the technology to flourish and achieve comprehensive adoption.

As for the steps above, you find some further tips and practices here:

Define clear, 
measurable goals
Create a
success dashboard
Employ success stories 
for training
Before rolling out new technology, define specific, measurable objectives you aim to achieve with its adoption. Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics, such as user satisfaction scores and productivity gains, to capture a comprehensive view of success. Develop an easy-to-understand dashboard that displays real-time data on how the technology is being used and the benefits it’s bringing. Make this dashboard accessible to all stakeholders to maintain transparency and build excitement around the technology’s impact. Incorporate real-life success stories into training materials for new users to illustrate the practical benefits and encourage adoption. Create a repository of case studies and user stories that can be easily accessed by anyone considering or starting to use the technology.

BCG X, Boston Consulting Group’s new tech build and design unit is at the forefront of building and launching new technology companies into the market. To expand its portfolio and attract investments from interest groups and corporates, the unit systematically monitors and showcases key success stories. By highlighting tangible outcomes and improvements, BCG not only demonstrates the value of emerging technologies but also builds compelling cases for its broader adoption within the organization and the market.

“Another venture I was involved in that I really enjoyed was for heavy industries. So steel mills and other factories where there is a lot of risk and a lot of injuries because of these environments. We developed a computer vision solution that can detect risk before it happens. So if you're about to get run over by a forklift or there is a crane moving above your head with a heavy load, we use the combination of computer vision and IoT devices to detect the risk and then alert the actual people who are about to be at risk in real time. And this is our solution - a great showcase of the tangible benefits and the direct impact of the technology.”

- Hod Fleishman (Partner, VP Deep Tech Business Innovation)

Access the complete podcast episode →

Bonus: Build your ecosystem of allies

The detailed, step-by-step approach we've discussed mirrors the precision and patience required in spearfishing—targeting specific stakeholders and addressing their unique needs and concerns. While this method is often more effective in securing buy-in and fostering initial adoption, it is also labor-intensive and time-consuming. In contrast, building an ecosystem of allies within the organization acts like casting a wide net, creating a self-sustaining environment that passively attracts interest and support for new technologies, thereby accelerating the adoption process without the need for constant, direct intervention.

The creation of a strong, company-wide community of technology enthusiasts offers a powerful means to amplify the impact of new technologies. This community acts as a fertile ground for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices, facilitating the cross-pollination of technological knowledge. Such an ecosystem not only fosters a culture of innovation but also helps in identifying new opportunities for technology application across different facets of the organization. By enabling enthusiasts to share their successes and challenges, the organization can discover novel problem-solution matches, further embedding technology adoption into the corporate culture.

Digital platforms can play a pivotal role in nurturing this internal ecosystem, providing the tools and spaces necessary for collaboration and knowledge sharing. The ITONICS Innovation OS serves as a central hub for capturing and disseminating technology insights throughout the company. It enables collaborative work, efficient knowledge exchange, and the tracking of technology trends and their application within the organization. By leveraging the platform, technology managers can effectively coordinate the collective intelligence of the organization, turning isolated insights into a cohesive strategy for innovation and ensuring that the ecosystem of allies thrives and grows.

For this final (bonus) step, we again have some additional tips and inspirations for you:

Create a digital
single point of truth
Foster a culture
of openness
Activate organizational networks
Implement platforms that facilitate easy sharing of information and collaboration on technology initiatives. Choose tools that integrate well with your existing systems and are user-friendly to encourage widespread adoption and use. Encourage an environment where sharing ideas, successes, and failures is valued and rewarded. Create internal innovation challenges or hackathons to spark engagement and collaboration across different teams. Build strong personal relationships with key stakeholders through regular, informal interactions. Schedule casual coffee meetings or virtual catch-ups to discuss not just technology, but also their aspirations and experiences.

Dolby Laboratories is renowned for its innovations in audio, visual, and voice technologies - most notably showcased through the Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision systems introduced in the mid-2010s. To stay ahead of the competition and explore new opportunities, scouting emerging technology trends is a key operation at the company. Thus, Dolby created the Futures Council to build an ecosystem of allies and a forum for technology enthusiasts. By engaging diverse stakeholders across Dolby, the council fosters a collective foresight community. This inclusive approach helps embed long-term thinking into the company’s DNA, turning foresight into a shared responsibility rather than a siloed activity.

“Let's just say for anybody who is interested in building internal futures capacity: be very intentional and small when you start. Make sure you build your ecosystem of allies and cast a wide net in terms of who you bring in to participate. If you keep it siloed off into its own corner, it's not going to be sticky. It's not going to grow roots. So make sure that you can fold it into your organization across the board.”

- Tessa Finlev (Head of Foresight, Founder Futures Council)

Access the complete podcast episode →

Technology management in ITONICS

The ITONICS Innovation OS offers a full suite of tools, empowering technology managers to craft compelling stories, engage stakeholders, and drive strategic action toward innovation. Designed to streamline the adoption process and deliver actionable insights, these tools include dynamic radar and matrix visualizations, interactive dashboards, and automated reporting processes. Bridge the tech adoption gap to confidently steer your company’s technology strategy into the future.



See the ITONICS Innovation OS in action

Book Your Free Demo