Driving IT Value Realization: The Marketing of IT – Review

by | November 9, 2009

Last Thursday Nov 6, 2009, I spent a valuable day at the Forrester Western Canadian IT Summit.  The day began and ended with  keynotes and in between there were 3 breakout tracks – CIO, EA and IT Ops.  This post covers a keynote by Bobby Cameron on Marketing IT.  I will write a separate post on Jeff Scott’s (@logicalleap) two sessions.

Morning Keynote – Driving IT Realization: The Marketing of IT – Bobby Cameron, VP and Principal Analyst, Serving CIOs

Here is my summary of Bobby’s presentation highlighting the 3 key points:

1. What key factors improve the perception that the IT organization is aligned to the business?

Bobby provided 3 pieces of research  and a summary of key factors that keep IT a cost centre.

First, “CEOs – 75% are happy with IT overall – but they don’t expect IT to deliver much“.  IT is not seen by CIO’s as a source of innovation or a source of process improvement. We even struggle being seen as capable of managing the people and assets under our control. (Me: we do not have the reliability of a utility yet)

Second, “Business’ perception: Quality of IT’s support doesn’t match importance“.  While the business recognizes that IT is important to reduce costs, improve productivity, acquiring and retaining customers, driving innovation, managing customer relations and re-engineering core processes, their perception is that IT only delivers on these half the time. (Me: putting methodologies like Enterprise Architecture, IT Service Management and Project/Program/Portfolio Management in place helps)

Third, “A more positive view of IT begins with IT doing its job well …“.  Bobby provided a list of changes that contributed to a more positive view of IT like reliability of systems, consistency and quality of IT processes, improved execution of major enterprise projects, etc. (Me:  see my comment above as well as putting a focus on managing complexity)

Bobby’s conclusion was that “Poor communications keeps IT a cost centre“.  If we do not address the following, it is hard to become a trusted supplier or a partner player.

  • making invisible contributions
  • perceived as late and over budget
  • seen as a utility and not a partner
  • only a good as its last failure  (Me: this is really tough for us in IT because no one has created failure proof technology)

2. How can IT leadership become intentional about pursuing this improved perception?

The first point in this section highlights the ability for marketing to move IT up the enterprise value chain. Having a focused marketing program for IT improves IT’s view of itself and the Business’ view of IT. Making IT marketing a part of a well managed IT organization is key.  Bobby recommended hiring a marketing specialist instead of re-purposing an IT staff member.  Bobby went into detail about the various communication channels, tactics and classes of users. (Me: we try to do marketing off the corner of our Client Services team’s desk but really need a coordinated approach from all levels of IT)

The next piece presented was a pyramid with Solid Utility as the base, Trusted Supplier in the middle and Partner Player at the apex.  To get there, Bobby presented a suggested approach to build a marketing campaign:

  1. Identify campaign objectives
  2. Segment the audience
  3. Select channels
  4. Identify owners & champions
  5. Execute
  6. Measure success

3. What are the best practices for the marketing of IT?

Ensure that all of IT plays a part in IT marketing – from the infrastructure and ops teams all the way up to the CIO.  Here are the final takeaways:

  • IT marketing has to be someone’s job
  • Create common messages that are part of a plan
  • Use targeted, simple, repeated messages – built on templates and tools
  • Talk business value and goals
  • Always vet potentially contentious messages first
  • Avoid over-marketing
  • Go public with the “M” word

My personal assessment is that we work hard at being a solid utility and are starting to move to a trusted supplier. Challenges for us to continue to progress up the value chain:

  • no dedicated marketing person
  • major changes to our architecture requiring a big learning curve for our community and tech staff
  • maintaining two systems while we are in transition
  • focusing on business value over “cool” technology

I really enjoyed the talk and found Bobby’s key points a good guide to moving forward to intentionally communicate IT’s value. If we put some of these techniques in place, maybe we can better answer the question from our President:

“How do we know IT is the right size for our organization and its mandate?”

Check out the Forrester website and Bobby Cameron’s work for more information.

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