Over the past couple of months I’ve been speaking with many CIOs to get their views on what might be the meaning behind some of the numbers in our CIO Insider Survey. For example, our observation that the CIO’s improving longevity in the job — an average of five and a half years in the December, 2004 survey — is an indication of a greater respect for the role. That view is tempered by a few pragmatists who point out that CIO job opportunities have simply been few and far between in the last couple of years, so naturally nobody is moving.
Pragmatists or pessimists, something I’ve observed through these discussions is that there are a lot of CIOs out there who are either pessimists or, more often, just plain modest, which makes them poor candidates for sales and marketing. But sales and marketing is an important part of the CIO job, especially when, ‘difficulty proving the value of IT,’ is in the top five barriers to success for a majority of respondents to the survey.
In a previous life, I worked for a CIO who viewed marketing the IS department to the rest of the organization as an essential and natural part of the job. He had monthly reports of transaction volumes and downtime by application. He could identify average response times by hour and he had at his fingertips a summary of trouble reports and time to resolution for every application. He used this wealth of information to take the sting out of irate user-managers’ complaints by demonstrating that whatever the current crisis, it was an anomaly, and the offending application had an admirable track record — usually demonstrably true.
It worked, and was particularly effective in concert with regular surveys conducted across the user base on behalf of the IS department. The results of the surveys were widely publicized, as were the actions taken to address any issues that were identified in previous surveys. New initiatives and successes were also loudly and visibly promoted.
Proving the value of IT is an exercise requiring the active participation of IT users since value is manifest in business activities and not in the IT department. People like to be associated with success. Effective marketing of the department to create a successful image will not only give a boost to your staff, but will also help to make value measurement a shared responsibility.