Eyes of the beholder

There’s more to ensuring that technology enables business value than meets the eye. There is no single value proposition to communicating the value of technology to stakeholders. Each stakeholder perceives value differently. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

You Think You “Deliver” Value To Business Stakeholders … But You Don’t

Value for stakeholders goes beyond aligning technology delivery to business and customer outcomes. It comprises the personal needs of stakeholders — that includes their career goals and the personal values that motivate them in their decision-making, engagement, and relationship with technology and the tech function. Tech execs must understand how their stakeholders behave, their motivations, and how they feel about their experiences with technology and their interactions with the tech function to ensure that their stakeholders experience the value they expect. As author Simon Sinek says, “Value is a perception, not a calculation. Value is something people feel, not something we tell them they get.” Value is experienced, not delivered.

Tech’s stakeholders perceive value when they feel that they give up less than they get as they pursue a goal. And it’s those perceptions of value created that determine if stakeholders support or collaborate with tech executives. That value is rounded in expectations. Every time stakeholders engage with you or use technology products or services, they have a preformed idea of what the experience will be like (their expectation). If you meet or exceed their expectation, they’ll perceive the experience with you positively. When you do not meet their expectations, the stakeholder perceives the technology experience badly — you do not enable value.

Improve Stakeholder Engagement By Understanding Value Perceptions

Tech executives and their team can build better relationships and strengthen how they achieve their goals by recognizing that value perceptions:

  • Span four dimensions. These are: (1) economic (gain or avoid wasting money from a technology investment — e.g., achieves targeted cost savings); (2) functional (how technology helps achieve an objective — e.g., improves ability to do their job); (3) experiential (positive or negative interaction with technology — e.g., application errors or system outages) and; (4) symbolic (gain meaning or recognition from technology — e.g., the CEO may want recognition for being at the forefront of tech innovation).
  • Depend on context. The stakeholder’s worldview (personal beliefs or values) impacts how they see the world and influences their decisions and way of thinking. This includes social, environmental, economical, or other ideals — e.g., a stakeholder’s concerns for the sustainability impact of any technology or vendor. The stakeholder may also contrast and compare with other experiences with technology organizations.
  • Can vary. One stakeholder may value innovation and seek to invest in the latest emerging technology to stay ahead of the competition, whereas another is risk-adverse and will only be confident in proven, tried, and tested technology backed up with case studies and references before committing to change.

Take The Steps To Maximize And Communicate The Business Value Of Technology

To further explore how you can better understand how stakeholders perceive and experience value for what you do, check out my latest report, coauthored with Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, Value Perception — The Key To Aligning Tech’s Business Value. I include seven recommended steps to maximize value for your stakeholders that includes where and how to start; how to adapt and apply these techniques into your stakeholder engagement activities; and how to continually improve value alignment, effectiveness, and consistency.


(photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash)