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How to Communicate the Value of Your IT Department

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It's not enough for upper management to know that the IT department is crucial to business operations. IT must communicate its value in a way that helps other departments to understand why IT is important. Learn how to communicate that value clearly.
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Introduction

IT executives need to consider themselves and convince others to consider them as part of the business, not separate from the business. Remember the following quotes from The CIO Desk Reference (Metagroup, 2001), which we mentioned in the first article in this series?

In organizations where IT is viewed as extremely critical to the business, today's CIO has not only realized that marketing the IT organization furthers the awareness that IT adds value to the business, but also has acted on that realization through concerted efforts to market IT.

...[M]ore than 70% of Global 2000 organizations perceived their IT units as supporting the business: They have a cost center, "just-keep-the-lights-on," service-utility mentality that maintains IT should be mostly transparent to the rest of the business. If things are going well, no one knows the IT organization is there. If things are going badly, it gets noticed.

...[L]eading CIOs are focused on bringing the full value of information to the enterprise's bottom line.

...[B]ecause business exists more and more at the discretion of information, IT organizations need to sell to their business colleagues the fact that IT can and should be leveraged for business value and growth. Marketing the IT organization increases the correct perception that IT adds value to the business...marketing the IT organization raises the enterprise's recognition of its dependence on the IT organization and helps ensure [that] the CIO is (and is perceived to be) a business partner.

A 1998 PricewaterhouseCooper study of the 436 fastest-growing U.S. companies found that 60% of CEOs agreed IT was either critical or extremely critical to the business. Firms in which the CEO rated IT as "extremely critical" showed 72% greater annual growth than firms whose CEOs rated IT as merely "critical.". During a 10-year period, these same firms achieved a 45% better compound annual growth rate than firms whose CEOs rated IT as "neutral."

The marketing of information technology is a conscious attempt to identify, contribute, and clearly communicate value. Whether value is measured through revenue enhancement, operational efficiency, or competitive advantage, it needs to be communicated in non-technical terms.

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