IT Business Relationship
*Originally published for The IMF Blog on April 17, 2013 | View Post
With our Web Forum on marketing IT services within the enterprise coming up next Thursday, I thought I’d take some time to talk about the issue at hand. As much as organizations like to believe they’re a collaborative bunch, many still operate in silo-mode. As anyone can attest to who works in this kind of environment, it often results in communication problems and business unit isolation.
When isolated as such, a business unit tends to look out for themselves first and not the business. So you have multiple business units trying to gain stakeholder attention and secure funding, resources, etc. In order to gain influence and that highly sought after “seat at the table,” you’ve got to communicate the value of your services to the enterprise.
Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a struggle for many IT departments. IT orgs these days are considered more of “keep the lights on” kind of expense whereas Sales, Marketing, DevOps, etc. are the sexy revenue generators. Who do you think is going to receive more attention from C-level execs in this scenario? Employees generally associate IT with help desks and outages. The other departments bring in new business and put exciting new applications into the marketplace. Clearly IT needs a perception makeover if it wants to attract executive commitment and company dollars.
This brings us to our next problem. Unlike sales and marketing, there’s no lack of introverts in the IT realm. Shocking, I know. Even the CIO, who should hold a lot of authority, power, and influence within the enterprise, has to take a backseat to other C-level execs in some cases. I think this has more to do with communication than a lack of respect for IT though as many would have you believe.
A lot of CIO’s still speak in the most technical of terms to their corporate counterparts when expressing what should be done or what can be accomplished from an IT perspective. This type of behavior shouldn’t surprise anyone. CIO’s typically rise through the IT ranks speaking nothing but technical jargon. It’s become habit and you cannot expect them to simply turn it off. However, 98% of the business doesn’t understand technical jargon so they’re really just spinning their wheels and driving IT further into the depths of obscurity.
So we’ve established two things here:
- IT has to communicate value if it wants a piece of the pie
- IT leaders, managers, and even the CIO often have trouble projecting how their goals and services complement the business
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” In order to solve this problem, why not steal a page from Sales/Marketing? Hire or bring in an IT Marketing Manager. This is a person who represents IT and knows how to promote the department’s services and value to other business units. They understand how critical IT is to the enterprise has a whole and will convey that message to high-level influencers. Most importantly, they’ll help IT stand out from the crowd.
I’ve done some research and really haven’t found too much on IT orgs bringing in a Marketing Manager. That’s why I was so intrigued when Broadcom Sr. IT Manager Phil Malatras told me about their unique approach. They decided to bring in a person who can practically sell IT’s services and values to the rest of the enterprise. They’re going to share some experiences, lessons learned, and tips on the call next week. Again, I know this is an area where many IT orgs struggle so I’m very interested in hearing what they have to say.