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In Part 1 of this series, we talked about all the things that scare people about new technology in retail real estate.

Over the past 5 years I've watched a number of companies (some customers and some not) make the scary leap into 21st century information sharing technology for retail real estate and beyond.  I've also seen a bunch look, but then choose not to leap.  Given the fact that all the companies that leaped would never go back, what exactly are people afraid of?

Here in Part 2, we’ll start at the top... at the C-Level.  These people aren't afraid of anything, right?  Wrong! People that make it to this level have certain skills that got them there. While it may be smart to appear self assured at all times, people that make it to the C-Suite and stay are usually good at "knowing what they don't know." They’ve wisely learned to engage subject experts to advise them when a problem is beyond their expertise. In fact, this concept is drilled in at business school.  And, with the exception of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), if there is anything that most people at the C-Level of retail and retail real estate don't know about, it's technology. Technology scares the crap out of them.

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The C-Suite is afraid of new technology for a lot of good reasons. There are lots of stories of new technology initiatives ending in failure, with lots of money spent and nothing to show for it. So when the C-Suite considers new technology initiatives, you can be sure that these stories are top-of-mind for them. There needs to be a compelling reason to undertake any new technology initiative or why take the risk?  Even if there is a compelling reason, there is still the chance that it will fail, leaving them with egg on their faces.

If you’ll accept for the moment that market intelligence technology has a huge ROI and is truly worth doing (I’ll try to prove this to you later in this series), then it is helpful to examine the ways that a technology initiative can fail. Here is my simple list, though I’m sure there are IT experts that could supply a much more sophisticated list. 

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Getting the C-Suite on board to a new technology initiative is not easy. But this list gives some basic approaches to minimizing risk of IT initiatives in general and market intelligence systems specifically.  The C-Suite can be made more comfortable if they know that these kinds of approaches are being taken.  And if you are sponsoring the initiative, you can as well.

If you play your cards right, you may have an experience similar to a research group at a major retailer a few years ago.  They had the whole real estate team along with a C-Level executive in the room to make a desicion about a market intelligence system initiative.  But the executive had been prepped and his concerns about technology, design, and adoption risk had been addressed in advance.  When the real estate people complained that they already had access to the information that was available in the system, the executive fired back, "I know, but I want you spending your time doing deals and not looking for information!"  He understood the value proposition; and since the research team did a great job of alleviating his concerns, the decision to move forward was made right there.

Author
Joe Rando