Three IT executives share how they were able to boost their department's credibility by educating their peers about the business benefits they deliver.
Integrate Marketing Into Your Day Job
Gene P. Berry, VP & CIO, OneAmerica Financial Partners: As technologists, we tend not to be very adept at marketing--it doesn't come naturally, and we often let it fall by the wayside because IT has other things to do. But it is very important; IT provides a lot of value that's not always showcased appropriately.
Marketing does take time and effort, and it requires deliberation and planning. While it's hard to capture everything we do, given the size of the organization, we are collecting success stories and packaging them in a way that helps market IT internally. I've asked my direct reports to send stories, events and items of significance to me, which I share internally with executive management as appropriate.
I've also started a quarterly newsletter with an editorial team composed of cross-functional representatives from IT. The team meets regularly to discuss content, which has included a series of short articles about what is going on in IT, a column called CIO Corner that I write, and technology cartoons that lend a touch of levity to the publication.
IT has suffered from a lack of credibility, and I plan to focus more on marketing efforts this year to turn this perception of IT around by increasing awareness of how much value we provide on a daily basis.
Influence Through an Everyday Presence
Chandra Dhandapani, Senior Vice President of Financial Services IT, Capital One: As a financial services company, Capital One can't let IT be an add-on; IT is an everyday presence throughout our business. For example, we use an agile methodology for software development in which cross-functional teams work together on projects, and team members share space so that the IT staff and the marketing and operations partners can interact constantly.
This is an important aspect of influencing the business, a process that starts with understanding opportunities and pain points from our business partners' perspective so IT can bring technology to bear to solve those problems. I stress to my team that communication is critical; it's how we build our brand.
By communicating via email or in person and conveying what we want to say quickly and frequently, we constantly show the value that IT brings. We're also proponents of using visual management centers (whether physical or virtual) to display performance metrics.
These are placed near our marketing and operations executives so they can see how their teams are performing with regard to campaigns or customer service goals, along with metrics on technology projects and system performance. By making this information highly visible, we stay constantly connected with our business partners.
Design Visuals for Maximum Impact
Mark Carbrey, CIO, Agero: The most important aspects of marketing IT are transparency and creating empathy for the IT organization. Our company is metrics- and goal-based, so instead of just providing status updates, I focus on providing measurements that show where we stack up against our target metrics, and I design and distribute information about what IT does in a way that makes it easy to understand.
Because we want our internal staff to visually understand our message immediately, we collect a lot of information about IT projects and distribute it as a single chart or page.
We also made a major investment in a project and portfolio management (PPM) system, which is unusual for a midsize company. The PPM system allows us to clearly convey information about where we are on projects and correct what is wrong, and it serves as a single source of the truth.
Two years ago, we created a quality index that consists of 20 key quality parameters that roll up into a single index. Since the index was created, our quality score has increased every month.
The idea is to communicate basic information in a way that allows people to readily understand it--and rally around it--and that enables IT to be visible and transparent.
Read more about leadership/management in CIO's Leadership/Management Drilldown.