Solving IT’s Identity Problem

PR Time

If colleagues groan or run for the exits when IT personnel are about, it is likely time for a bit of public relations work on the part of the CIO. Perhaps more important than the technology we deploy is the way we interact with our colleagues. Formal and informal surveys, end user panels and external benchmarking are good ways to see how IT looks to those that engage its services.

? Is IT perceived as a group of order takers, blindly following instructions, leaving dysfunctional systems and then heading for the hills?

? Is IT difficult to deal with, setting inflexible rules and putting colleagues through a gauntlet of request forms and administration that negates any perception of value?

Use the aforementioned tools to flush out and identify these sentiments.

Getting the view from beyond IT can help you create targeted programs to improve IT’s image as a valuable asset to the corporation. If a particular business unit struggles in its interactions with IT, launch programs to rectify the situation.

One of my favorite examples is a CIO who sent several of her people to the annual sales conference. They camped out in a hotel room and provided hardware and software support, and answered any technical questions the field sales force had. This initiative was inexpensive, unprompted and universally lauded. A two day effort and minimal cost increased the positive perception of IT by sales dramatically more than a multi-year, multi-million dollar CRM implementation.

Filling your ranks with intellectual firepower and running your organization like a business unit, rather than a shared service that ponders inanities like alignment will begin to rapidly boost the credibility of IT. Sprinkling some public relations juju on the process rapidly shifts IT from the first target for budget cuts, to the business unit that is tapped to help lead the company through challenging times.

Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group, and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at [email protected].