The Big I.T. Sell

For the CIO, business intelligence is where the rubber meets the road. After all, we’re talking Chief Information Officer here, and providing the organization with the best possible information to do the job is what business intelligence is all about.

At CIO Canada’s recent spring roundtable, six Canadian IT executives swapped details around their BI initiatives, and there’s much good insight to be found around implementing BI in our highlight article on page 12. If BI looms large on your agenda, I suggest you give it a read.

A few common themes emerged throughout the course of the roundtable, one of which was the difficulty of obtaining long-term funding, both for putting an effective information architecture in place and for on-going support of BI initiatives. This is but one more example of CIOs facing a tough sell when it comes to prying loose funding for IT investment that many would consider a ‘no brainer’.

Although some C-level execs would no doubt benefit from reading Enterprise IT For Dummies, this isn’t simply a case of senior management not getting it. Considering the enormous cost of large IT projects, and the IT organization’s historically spotty record in delivering them, it’s not at all surprising that the people holding the purse strings need a lot of convincing when it comes to approving projects where ROI is hard quantify.

I guess that’s why the word ‘sell’ is ever on the lips of CIOs these days. As time goes on, the CIO’s sales hat seems to be getting bigger and bigger. And that begs the question, are CIOs’ sales skills keeping up with their hat size?

A lot of C-level executives have come up through the sales ranks, but unfortunately that’s rarely the case with the CIO. So I suspect that a lot of CIOs are relying on their own gut instincts when it comes to the Big IT Sell. And if that’s the case, maybe its time to put in a little work on that particular skill set.

While CIOs are generally keen to improve their C-suite communications skills, I seldom hear them talk about boning up on their sales skills. But I would argue that in today’s IT environment, companies may derive more value from a CIO with great sales skills than they get from their top sales person in the field.

The world is full of terrific books and courses on the art of selling. So at the risk of repeating myself, how’s your hat size?

Talk to me

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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