CIOs Must Market IT's Value

CIOs Must Market IT's Value

Done well, it shows the business value of IT and gives visibility to top performers.

Do your business colleagues really understand the value of what IT delivers? All too often, I hear CIOs answer that question with a reluctant "No, not really."

Many of you recognize the gap that still exists between "the business" and the IT organization. You acknowledge how little business people understand about how and where your IT budget is spent.

So I have to wonder: Why don't more CIOs make it a serious priority to market IT internally? Done well, IT marketing has several clear (even obvious) benefits. First and foremost, it opens a window of transparency to the business units, bringing the bigger picture into focus on whatever projects are underway. It translates mysterious IT spending into something the average employee can appreciate.

Second, internal IT marketing brings your high performers to the attention of the rest of the organization. Sales organizations certainly do that regularly. I'll bet you can name the top three sales producers in your company. But can they point to the most successful IT leaders on your team?

Consider how other top performers throughout the company might get more interested in working in IT, knowing they'd be celebrated contributors instead of unsung heroes. One of our CIO 100 award-winning organizations this year, for example, was led by a CIO who came up through the sales ranks at his organization. Imagine the benefits to IT if some of the best players in finance, sales, operations or other key business disciplines joined your organization.

Could consistent IT marketing free you to take more risks? I'd envision a scenario where you consistently promote quick wins to the business--and share any lessons learned from the "fast failures" as well.

How can you get started? Go to the source of marketing talent in your company and ask for help. Team up with a talented marketer and map out an internal IT marketing campaign. I guarantee that everyone involved will learn something useful. Marketers love to blue-sky and bat around ideas. Technologists love to think through the requirements and proceed logically. How powerful could that combination of right- and left-brain skills be for your company?

Write to me with more of your ideas and I'll report back. Now, get out there and market.

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