From the Editor-in-chief

Talk to me.

I was speaking with a CIO recently who was bemoaning IT’s lack of support from end users. His concern was around the fact that much of the good work that’s done by his department goes unnoticed and unappreciated by his clients because it goes on quietly in the background. His example was Y2K – perhaps not the best example of ‘quietly in the background’ – but I take his point.

Network World U.S. reported on a study commissioned by Symantec to gauge opinion about the spam problem among IT managers and their user community. It points to a difference in views about how bad the volumes of unsolicited mail really are these days.

The survey results were released in June at the NetSec Conference and questioned 110 North American IT managers and 300 of their end users. The survey showed almost 80 per cent of the IT managers regard spam as a workplace problem. However, about half the users said they didn’t see spam as a problem at all.

In addition, about 59 per cent of the IT managers said spam has increased significantly over the last year, but only about 35 per cent of end users felt the same.

These results suggest that the fight against spam is being won since the end user community is feeling its impact less. Some even think spam is beaten and that has to be viewed as success. But to my unhappy CIO’s point, end users are feeling less pain from spam because IT is constantly working to manage it. If end users think spam is no longer a problem will they question why IT must constantly spend money on it?

It points to one of the weak spots for many CIOs: marketing IT to the business. What’s worked for some is talking informally to user management; meeting over breakfast or lunch and discussing issues as well as explaining some of the things that go on in IT – such as the success with curbing spam and what is behind the success. Others publicize IT’s efforts and successes through internal newsletters, even documenting statistics such as uptime of systems, transaction volumes and, perhaps, volume of spam trapped per user.

Marketing is not a natural talent for many CIOs, but it’s an important one to cultivate. Talk to your users regularly. What they don’t know can hurt you.

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