How much time have you spent lately building your own and your IT organization's brand? If the answer is "none at all", well frankly, its time to lift your game.
Canny CIOs today know their long-term viability, not to mention their future employability, hangs on how successfully they can brand themselves and their team.
In fact any CIO who's in the market for a new job or vying for a promotion should be spending a lot of time and energy forging the "personal brand" that reflects the unique talent and value they bring to a job. Any CIO who's happy where he or she is, but wants to stay there for longer than the next couple of months, should be doing the same.
As Derek Goh, Executive General Manager IT & Facilities Management for Challenger Financial Services, put it to me recently, for CIOs to continue to do well in the future will mean establishing a brand for themselves that lets people understand the value of the CIO to the organization.
"A future CIO will have to establish a brand within their organization that people can articulate, can recognize, and can reward for the influence they have on the organization," Goh says.
"If you see yourself as a product that adds value to the organization, you need to package that with marketing, you need to ensure that there is enough time spent demonstrating those values to other people consistently across the whole company. And one of the tests which I currently use is: 'if I were to get someone to give me three simple words to describe my value, what would they be?' And if those three values consistently come through from various people in the organization, in all levels, then you know you have established a brand."
There's a good reason why CIOs, above all other C-level executives, should be seriously working on building their brand. To plagiarize myself from an article I wrote on the need for CIOs to market themselves a couple of years ago, "to many users and stakeholders the IT systems, services and practices CIOs preside over seem so arcane that those CIOs might as well be high priests officiating in some mystifying cult. Then again, there are plenty of CIOs who seem to assume their users and stakeholders are psychic, so perhaps obtuseness resides on both sides.
"The result of all that mutual misunderstanding is visible in many IT shops today. CIOs who do not know how to market themselves and their services live with the low morale within the IT organization: the 'silos of excellence'; the armchair refereeing from the customer community; the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD); the customer dissatisfaction; the lack of customer ownership and sponsorship of their own products, and the blame game - playable by casts of thousands - that is so familiar today.
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