Communication Puts 'Positive Pressure' on IT

Ann All

A favorite theme of mine (some might say an obsession) is the need for CIOs to promote IT to other business leaders. Providing a great product or service is only half the battle; making sure people know about it is the other half. It's especially important for IT, since business users (including me) have a tendency to focus on what goes wrong (this %^&#*& computer!) rather than on all the stuff that goes right.


I included several tips on promoting IT as part of a broader post called "Lessons for CIOs on How to Be a Great Communcator." Among them: Consider providing newsletters, monthly achievement updates and "meet your customer" events designed to introduce IT staff to the business personnel they serve. One of the CIOs I mentioned in my post does this but has help, a full-time assistant with a marketing background.


I thought it was a great idea albeit one that might not be realistic for CIOs without that kind of assistance. In an interview with EnterpriseLeadership, Peter High, founder of Metis Strategy and author of "World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumph," suggests CIOs consider "borrowing" folks from corporate PR to help develop communications programs specific to IT.


Another interesting suggestion from High: Dashboards can be an effective communications vehicle. Dashboards and similar communications "can help to increase the curiosity and scrutiny the business community has about the IT community," says High. They do, however, create new expectations. Says HIgh:

I call this the "burning of the ships event" - there is no way back to the old world once you have done this. You have to stay in the new world where the business is better informed and will have a greater desire to remain informed. Once you begin to communicate this, you begin to put positive pressure on the IT department to perform at a higher level, constantly improving. Once you begin to open the kimono on all the things the organization is undertaking -- how it is performing, and where the warts are -- you will find more of an appetite for that continued conversation.

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