Why is IT tucked away from the rest of the corporate space?
They slip in when someone needs help and then just as quickly retreat to their corner—the farthest corner—of the enterprise.
The Harvard Business Review published research that suggests CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are under-valued by other executives. Almost half of the executives surveyed felt that the CIOs didn’t sufficiently understand the business, and how to effectively leverage IT for new business. About three out of four CEOs reported that their CIO performed below their peers.
Let’s face it. IT people speak a different language than the laypeople of the world.
Because we all rely on technology, we need these highly skilled people to keep our devices handling the myriad tasks we demand of them. For those of you who are technically-challenged, you don’t want to know how things run—and why they don’t. You just want a quick fix.
It’s time for IT to have a stronger role in the way the business is strategically positioned.
The CIO needs to engage in “C2C communication”—discussions with their C-level colleagues about the present and future of technology to increase operational efficiency.
CIOs should demonstrate the return on investment of the IT budget, and move away from the whole “cost” perception.
The conversation should proactively focus on identifying and pursuing ways technology can drive new business, increase the competitive edge, and transform the enterprise in measurable ways.
Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Adobe’s CIO, hones in on the value of IT in a unique way to highlight technology’s contribution to the company’s bottom line.
“I started using a pie chart that had only three sections: operations, new delivery, and depreciation. Every time I went in to talk to the executives, I brought that pie chart with me. I found that the dialogue changed to focus on the three parts of the budget,” she explains, adding that her C-level peers finally understood IT’s value and depreciation impact. “It was the secret sauce in focusing our executives on how we are spending our budget.”
Bill Bradley, CIO of CenturyLink, says IT needs to recognize the language barrier. “Both business and technology are filled with shared words, but often the meaning of these words and their nuances get lost in translation.” He adds that the two sides need to converge on the definition of success. “This may sound obvious, but business and IT organizations often have profoundly different metrics that signal a job well done. IT may focus on operational cost management, while the business may look more at revenue growth and margins.”
Technology will undoubtedly drive the future of business. IT needs to lead the tech conversation at the executive level. CIOs should proactively seek opportunities, and then present the positive outcomes, because their colleagues in the C-suite are interested in results. They don’t want to know the technical path to get there.
“You change the conversation by leading the conversation, and not allowing it to lead you,” explains Ted Colbert, CIO for Boeing.
Metrics matter. Define them.
Whether you demonstrate the effectiveness of technology to generate leads, drive sales, or manage labor and inventory costs, there are measurable outcomes to be weighed.
How does your IT group engage in C2C communication? Is there room for improvement? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on Facebook here.