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Marketing IT to the Business Strategic Insights Report


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The IT Media Group interviewed several IT executives to find out how they are raising the profile and stature of IT and gaining buy-in from all levels of the organization. What we discovered were a remarkable and highly diverse group of strategies for doing so. This report examines three of these strategies in detail, and provides insightful commentary from the CIOs responsible as well as a wide range of best practices used by several other IT executives.

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Marketing IT to the Business Strategic Insights Report

  1. 1. Marketing IT to the Business:Successful CIOs Share Best PracticesStrategic Insights Reporttheitmediagroup.comAuthor: Dave Carey, VP Content
  2. 2. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS2How do great CIOs effectively communicate up anddown the organization to enhance perceptions ofthe IT department and sell their technology vision?How do they ensure that senior executives buy intotheir technology strategy and make it a part of thebusiness strategy? How do theywin the hearts and minds of usersaround technology-enabledprocess change?The IT Media Group interviewedseveral leading IT executives toanswer these and other questionsaround raising the stature of IT andgaining buy-in for IT strategy fromall levels of the organization. Whatwe discovered were a remarkableand highly diverse group ofapproaches for doing so. This paperexamines three of theseapproaches in detail, and providesinsightful commentary from CIOs in variousindustries.Sav DiPasquale reveals many of the secrets thatmade him one of the world’s best internal marketersof IT while he was CIO of GlaxoSmithKline Canada.His aggressive use of a variety of marketingtechniques underpinned his many successes withExecutive SummaryGSK, helping him win Canadian CIO of the Yearhonours.Eugene Roman is a passionate believer in marketingthe IT organization to the business in unique andprovocative ways. While helming IT for three majorcompanies – Bell Canada, Open Textand Canadian Tire – he employedsome of the most eye-popping andeffective techniques ever conceivedfor raising the profile of IT andensuring its success.Roman Coba, CIO of frozen food giantMcCain Foods, relies on moretraditional approaches for buildingcredibility for the IT organization andensuring that it plays a strategic rolein the business. The key to his successlies in the comprehensive andmeticulous execution of thoseapproaches.In addition to examining the successful strategies ofthese three IT executives, this paper also draws oninterviews with several other IT executives,providing further examples of effective techniquesfor elevating the stature of IT and gaining buy-in forIT strategy throughout the organization.Great CIOs raise thestature of IT within thebusiness, getenthusiastic buy-infrom users, andensure that IT strategybecomes an essentialpart of businessstrategyThe CIO as IT Marketing Champion
  3. 3. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS3The CIO as IT Marketing ChampionWhile helming IT at pharmaceutical firmGlaxoSmithKline Canada from 2002 to 2010, SavDiPasquale wielded a variety of marketing tools toraise the profile and stature of IT within thecompany. When it came to pure marketing savvy, hewas the Coca-Cola of CIOs.Now president and CEO of Orgenesis, a firmdeveloping alternative treatments for diabetes, hestill believes passionately that marketing IT is a CIOimperative.While most CIOs tend to balk at the notion ofmarketing IT, DiPasquale thoroughly embraced it.And it paid off handsomely. His marketing effortsresulted in an IT organization that worked moreeffectively with the business, got great buy in fromend users, and that boosted its own morale in theprocess. In part because of these successes,DiPasquale was voted ‘06 Canadian CIO of the Year.Fundamental to his marketing approach was thebuilding of an IT brand. A key identifier for the brandwas a logo that appeared everywhere, from the golfshirts worn by IT staff to every PowerPoint slide thedepartment produced. It consisted of the word“MAXIMIZING”, followed by four bullets – Innovation,Value, People, Alignment – the four pillars of IT.The branding didn’t stop there. Impressed bycompanies like Starbucks, where customers are treatedconsistently every visit and where every outlet has asimilar feel, DiPasquale was determined to impart asimilar brand consistency to the IT organization.“You have to get everyone in the IT world tounderstand why we have a purpose and what thatpurpose is, so you galvanize them around a commontheme,” he said. “We gave everything the samelook, feel and colour. We had meetings focused oningraining consistent behaviour in our people:everybody smiles; everything is finished; no calls areleft undone; no offices are left in shambles. Weraised the bar on our service capability.”Segmenting the audienceSimilar to traditional brand marketers, DiPasqualebelieves in segmenting the audience and figuring outthe key motivators and drivers for each.“Find out what your customers want and thenmarket to them,” he said. “You have to get thetiming right for the messages to each segment, andthose messages need to emphasize the value-addrather than just features.”Aligning with the CEOMost importantly, DiPasquale believes high-levelmarketing messages must align with the strategy ofthe CEO (or the equivalent of the CEO). If, forexample, the CEO is pitching collaboration, workingwith external partners, and driving faster agility inthe business, then the CIO’s prime marketing focusshould be around solutions that are going to helpenable those capabilities.“You can do all sorts of things around marketing andbranding, and you can have fantastic programs andskills, but if you’re not working on what the CEOcares about, youre in no mans land,” he said. “Thefirst order of business then is to find out what theCEO wants from IT. If the CEO doesnt initiate that
  4. 4. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS4conversation, you have to initiate it; probe, probe,probe until you can figure out what levers to pull.”Understanding line executivesThe same holds true with line executives. DiPasqualesat down regularly with all the line GMs and VPs andasked them a variety of questions. Whats workingand whats not? Where can I add value? How are mypeople doing? How are our services? He wanted toget those issues off the table and be excellent at thebasics in order to set the stage for the conversationaround innovation and investment.Understanding the priorities of the line executives isthe key in marketing to them. If they are costconscious, for example, then the CIO should marketthem hard on how IT will to drive down costs andsimplify the operating environment to reduce cost.But DiPasquale cautions against over-marketing tothe executives. This could backfire if they think theCIO is creating demand for things that they don’thave the budget to provide.Winning the hearts & minds of usersWhen marketing to the rest of the organization, theIT message needs to be around bringing new thingsout to make users more productive, to help them intheir day, and to make life simpler for them.DiPasquale used a multitude of techniques to dothis, including posters, banners, show-and-tellsessions, newsletters, intranet blasts, computerroom tours, town halls, getting on the agenda ofdivisional meetings, pilots, contests, give-aways,demos, and vendor expos.“Youve just got to try things; build word-of-mouthand get it out there; plaster it on peoples desks andmake sure they know how to do it. But the numberone way is to let people test drive it. We did this byhaving ‘real-world days’, where people could comein and try some of the things we were working on.”If there’s a need to build excitement and awarenessaround IT initiatives, DiPasquale recommends“jazzing up” the innovation messages to ITambassadors and change agents – the leaders thatreally want to embrace innovation.Leaders reporting to the CIO must be strongadvocates and communicators. And CIOs themselvesneed to be part of the marketing effort. “Take halfan hour and go tell a story – could be about asuccess, could be whats coming,” he urges. “Getimmersed in your business. You have a right to bethere; you dont have to ask for permission. IT isembedded in the company; you have to be able totalk about it.”DiPasquale also emphasizes the importance ofoutside recognition of the job IT is doing, as a meansof raising the profile and validating the capabilitiesof the IT organization.“If you want to say you are a world class, you needto have external support on that. For example, wealways submitted to CIPA [Canadian InformationProductivity Awards], and we won numerous CIPAand IT industry awards for plant automation andCRM. I think that gave us tremendous credibility.People never questioned our credibility and ourcapability to deliver,” he said. “So as a department,we proactively did that. It was all part of the
  5. 5. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS5branding, marketing and messaging around ourability to support the business.”Crafting the messageIf there’s one thing that distinguishes DiPasqualefrom most other CIOs when it comes to marketing,it’s his willingness to commit his own resources tothe endeavor. During his tenure as CIO, he had adedicated person working exclusively on ITmarketing. To some, this is a radical approach, butto DiPasquale, it’s a vital one – so much so that hecontinues this practice today.“I contract out communications because I believe init. If I dont do this, I fail as a business,” he said. “Youabsolutely have to believe in managing the message.All of our IT communications were professionallywritten and had the same look and feel, fromannouncing appointments to communicatingchanges in directions and programs.”If you wonder how he managed to do bring acommunications expert on board, DiPasquale said itwas easy. He simply reduced the number ofUse a logo and consistentlook, feel and colour to helpbrand the IT organization.Try things. Use a multitude ofmarketing techniques to getyour message out.programming contractors by one and used thatmoney for the contractor.Job One for this expert was to ensure that messagesweren’t in ‘IT speak’ but written in businesslanguage and plugged into the corporate agenda. Hewas on-site and on the leadership team,participating in all the leadership meetings. If therewas a major change initiative, he would create thecommunications package around it, making sure italigned to the company and to IT’s values,messaging style, and brand. The communicationsexpert was involved in the whole gamut of ITmarketing initiatives, including newsletters, intranet,dashboards, posters, and street events.Some would argue that DiPasquale’s methods wereover the top, and indeed he did occasionally hearcomments that IT was pounding its chest too muchand getting too much attention. In his eyes, that’s agood thing. Far better, he argues, for people to besaying “You guys are everywhere” than “What theheck do the IT people do around here and how can Iget hold of them?”Segment your audience andfigure out the key motivators anddrivers for each.If possible, make room in yourbudget to hire a communicationsprofessional.What you can learn from Sav DiPasqualeIT Marketing to the Max
  6. 6. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS6IT Marketing to the MaxWhen Eugene Roman joined Canadian Tire as CTO inthe summer of 2012, he convened a town hallmeeting of the company’s 1400 IT employees. Thefirst thing he said to them was, “The problem with ITis that it’s obsolete as we know it.”Roman had chosen his words carefully and knew thekind of reaction they would provoke. But hesucceeded in grabbing everyone’s attention as heexpanded on his message, “Informationtechnologists are losing the battle for the digitalfuture. There are many reasons for this but theprimary one is that theyre not good at sellingideas.”Quickly and succinctly, he had set the stage for theintroduction of his thoughts around MIS, which in hisworld stands for Marketing of Information Systems.Roman puts huge emphasis on internal IT marketingbecause it is the technologists that know what’spossible with technology, yet they are not trained inselling business cases and positioning new ideas. Theway to overcome this problem is by well craftedmarketing.“Youve got to create a tipping point within theorganization around the next generation oftechnology, and there are different ways to messagethis,” he explained in an IT Media Group interview.“If you just say ‘were going to do these projects’,youre going to get nowhere. You need to have adigital campaign led by the IT team – and it’s verymuch like a political campaign. The marketinganchors around it are critical. If you get them wrong,resistance grows.”As Roman concluded the town hall meeting, he firedup his audience around the ‘big idea’ underlying hisopening statement. “Information technology is beingreplaced by interactive technology. That’s what theworld is about today. Yet how good are we atpositioning it and pitching it and getting itdelivered?”This caused people to sit up and take notice. Yes,they’d done work around interactive technology butthey’d never thought of it as being vitally important.By meeting’s end, Roman had inspired a group of ITevangelists, who are now communicating and sellinghis message around the importance of interactivetechnologies across the company.Roman believes that it’s a must for the head of IT tobe an evangelist too, especially with the executiveteam. The best support for IT are the HR and Financepeople, who most IT teams either dont get alongwith or are underserved by. “When I got to CanadianTire I said I wanted to make HR and Finance peopleour best allies, because they touch everything, justlike IT does,” he said. “Those three groups comingtogether in a symbiotic way can enable pretty wellanything in the company we’re involved in.”Triggers, Traps and TricksCanadian Tire isn’t the first company to benefit fromRoman’s unique marketing skills. He used them togreat effect for the past decade and a half at BellCanada, where he was Group President Systems andTechnology, and at enterprise software firm OpenText, where he was CIO and CTO.
  7. 7. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS71The Trap and the Trigger are terms relating to Threat and Opportunity, originated by Restoration Partners Ltd., a UK-based boutique technology merchant bank which provides advisory services to technology companies.2“Unleashing the Ideavirus” by Seth Godin, Hyperion, New York, 2001The first principle of his marketing approach is KISS –Keep It Simple Systems.“Systems people tend to talk in fairly complicatedterms about things that are quite foreign to mostbusiness people. Terms like cloudstorage and enterprise apps on tapare useful if you know what theymean, but theres a limited under-standing among business peoplebecause its not core to theirthinking,” he said. “The MISapproach is about breaking downthose barriers and marketing ITinternally just as you would anyother program – with the emphasison understanding and gettingthings done to benefit thecorporation.”Roman has been tweaking the approach over theyears, and now employs a model that he’s taught toselected Masters students at two universities. Aspart of the MIS framework, he uses what he calls“The Three T’s”: the Trigger, the Trap1and the Trick.In order to sell the idea of whats possible (howgood use of technology can benefit the company)you need to create a Trigger – a tempting businessbenefit that will stir up interest in the idea.You must also avoid Traps, which arise when thebusiness rejects potentially important technology.Examples would be, “We don’t need onlineshopping” or “We don’t need cyber risk protection”.Traps most often revolve around infrastructure.A Trick is an invention of Roman’s and it refers to aclever means of drawing attention toan idea in such a way that it goesviral internally and gets absorbedwithout pushback. Roman creditsSeth Godin, author of the book“Unleashing the Ideavirus”2, forinspiring this approach.“What MIS does is unleashideaviruses on the organization byusing Tricks that create that ‘Aha!’moment,” said Roman. “It’s aboutimproving usability but doing it in acool way that makes people say,‘Wow, Ive got to have that!’”An example of a Trick is the use of a striking wordthat attracts and intrigues people. When he was CTOof Open Text, the company faced growingcompetition from firms creating enterprise apps thatwere faster, more agile and much cheaper to build.The company needed to change quickly in order tocounter this threat, but for many, change isuncomfortable and buy-in is slow. So to spur rapidchange, Roman launched a Trick on the organization– one that would spark interest in change and do itin a very visual way.In order to sell theidea of whatspossible... you needto create a Trigger –a tempting businessbenefit that will stirup interest in theidea.
  8. 8. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS8“We created a team called Terranovians, people ofthe New Land, who were to spearhead this change.There were only 12 of them but youd think therewere hundreds,” said Roman. “The Terranoviansworked on a floor that didnt exist, in a location wecalled Area 51. When you pushed the elevatorbutton for the fourth floor, nothingwould happen. If you walked upthe stairs, you could look through asmall window and see a dozenpeople in an area of 20,000 squarefeet working on something special.But you couldn’t get access. Thatfired up interest in what thechange team was doing.”The Terranovians wereintentionally made very visible inthe company. They were given alanyard and a compass to hangaround their neck, with northpointing to the word ‘Apps’. Overtime they were given other talismans related tochange, such as a light that hung around their neckto shine the new way forward, and a TimexExpedition wristwatch, worn uncomfortably on theleft hand, signifying the pain of change.“Things that are visual really resonate with people. Ifyou can see something, you can get engaged,” saidRoman. “We live in a society where experiencesmatter. Experiences sell.”What’s in a name? Plenty!Under the Marketing of Information Systemsframework, people in IT are taught to use ideas andlanguage in an enabling way.“How a project is named is tantamount to itssuccess,” asserted Roman. “Most IT people come upwith project names that would bore you to death.But if its part of MIS, it had better be interestingand compelling.”A case in point is the introduction ofnext generation wireless for CanadianTire stores. Rather than simply callingit that, the IT the team did a two-hourwhiteboard jam on it and Project Iconwas born. There was meaning to thename – Internet Connectivity – andthe executive stakeholder bought intoit immediately.Another name that gets a lot of playat Canadian Tire is iExperiences.When Roman asked the IT team“What business are we in?” theirresponse was “We’re in IT.” He countered, “Nowe’re not; we’re in the iExperiences business –that’s our whole raison d’etre.” Roman was intenton using the concept of iExperiences as an ideavirus,and in order to keep the idea fresh and intriguing, hewould not define the term. “It’s irrelevant to themarketing of the idea,” he explained. “Apple doesn’ttell you what iPod, iPad or iPhone stand for. That’sfor you to figure out.”While at Bell Canada, Roman launched thecompany’s highly successful exCITE centres for rapidinnovation and development. Never one to leave a“Things that arevisual really resonatewith people. If youcan see something,you can get engaged…experiences matter.Experiences sell.”
  9. 9. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS9good idea behind, he created similar centres atOpen Text and now Canadian Tire, where they areused in the building of smart stores and are calledSMART solution centres – SMART standing forSimplified Managed Agile Responsive Technology.Kevin Albert, one of the best people in the exCITEprogram at Bell Canada, has been brought tooversee all of Canadian Tire’s SMART solutioncentres. And he’s brought a good Trick with him.Because automotive products and services are sucha big part of the company’s culture, he opened aDigital Garage.“We actually built a garage, and really cool IT thingsare coming out of it,” said Roman. “We tell peopleto come take a look at what we’re doing in there,and it’s one more way to get people interested inwhat we’re doing.”He added, “Good marketing compels people to getexcited, to find out more, and to become advocates.It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a year or two.But if you can get to that stage then it becomes theculture of the company.”The head of IT must be anevangelist, especially with theexecutive teamThings that are visual reallyresonate with people. If youcan see something, you canget engagedWhat you can learn from Eugene RomanMake HR and Financepeople your best alliesHow a project is named istantamount to its successTraditional means to a superlative end
  10. 10. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS10As a CIO, you know you’re on the right track whenyour company prominently declares that technologyis fundamental to its success, even though it’s not inan industry associated with technology. Visit theweb site of McCain Foods Ltd, an internationalleader in the frozen food industry, and you will findjust such a declaration:“Standing out from the pack is no easy feat, butMcCain aims to do just that by investing more thanever before in science, technology and marketinsights to develop innovative products…”CIO Roman Coba has done an exemplary job ofenhancing the stature of IT at McCain and ensuringthat it plays a strategic role in the business. And he’sdone it not by aggressively marketing IT or usingprovocative techniques like ‘ideaviruses’ but byusing a mix of approaches that most CIOs will befamiliar with. His success lies in the comprehensiveand meticulous execution of those approaches.Getting strategic alignment rightIn order to get alignment right at McCain, the ITorganization built a five-year strategy around thebusiness strategy.“We had to determine what foundational blocks weneeded to put in place year over year to enable thebusiness to fully realize its five-year strategy,” saidCoba. “And weve done that pillar by pillar, lookingat all our key towers and meeting with our businesspartners. I call them business partners because welive with them very closely on strategy and on day-to-day execution against the strategy.”Traditional means to a superlative endThe IT organization went a step further, thinking notonly about the direct end result but also about whatwas possible. If, for example, the business wanted togrow by 60% in four years, IT looked at whatsolutions might be possible to enable that growth.With the use of predictive analytics, for example,Coba and the IT team feel confident in thecompany’s ability to predict the crop yield of apotato field in four years. This opens the door toputting business processes and practices in place tocollect specific information that can feed such amodel.“Weve gone out to the business and sold them onsome of those concepts. And we’ve got them tostart realizing what the potential of technology is,”said Coba. “People tend to think in todays sense;we’re trying to get them thinking in tomorrowssense.”Building credibility for ITIn order to get business buy-in for such ideas, firstand foremost you have to start building a goodrapport with your business units, according to Coba.At McCain, IT has to sell its capabilities bothregionally and globally. Each region typically has anIT manager or director whose sole responsibility isunderstanding and supporting the business, addingvalue to it, and potentially delivering programs thatoriginate centrally. Those managers have a team ofBAs that are aligned by functional towers andentrenched within the business – so much so that insome cases they would be thought of not as an ITperson but as a business person.
  11. 11. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS11Globally, IT has managers or directors who areassigned the global work streams that encompasssome of the regional work. For example, the ITdirector responsible for development on heritagesystems is connected at the hip to the VPresponsible for the integrated supply chain. The ITdirector goes to planning sessions,works with the supply chain team,solutions with them, brings subjectmatter experts to the table, andprovides guidance as to where IT canadd value.The IT organization at McCain doesnot rely on marketing tools such asblogs, intranet and newsletters tobuild credibility for IT and get theword out. “We used to do monthlycommunications but we found it fellupon deaf ears,” said Coba. “Peoplehave a plethora of information thatcomes at them all the time. They will pick andchoose, based on todays priorities, what theyregoing to look at and what they want to do.”Instead, emphasis is placed on personal face-to-facetime, continuous communications and support, andcontinuous dialogue regionally and globally. Becausethe company is globally dispersed, Coba logs over100,000 miles a year strictly to get into the regions,speak to the business units, understand their painpoints, share IT’s plans, and provide a directconnection. At the same time he deals with all theleadership team members informally around whereIT is going, what projects it is working on, what theissues are, and how IT has aligned to their strategicplans and direction.“At first, to build credibility, I had to book meetingsto be in there every month or every quarter, andhave a formal discussion,” said Coba. “Its evolved toa more fluid conversation now. They’ll say thingslike, ‘I understand we want to do thefollowing, Roman, can we have aconversation before we start? Howshould we align?”Getting buy-in for largetechnology projectsThough Coba and the IT team don’tmake liberal use of marketingtechniques on an on-going basis toenhance the view of IT within thebusiness, they do use them whenthe occasion calls for it.When introducing a large technology project, forexample, success depends on getting buy in fromthe top down. To do this, the McCain IT team spendstime educating and gaining alignment of theleadership teams globally. Once they’ve done that,they go on a road show regionally to communicatethe commitment around the project, and to explainthe implications and the value of it to everyone as awhole. When the implementation starts in aparticular region, IT makes sure that it does a goodjob of communicating, down to the functional levels,what the impact of the project will be, what thevalue will be, and what it means to them personally....emphasis is placedon personal face-to-face time, continuouscommunications andsupport, andcontinuous dialogueregionally andglobally.
  12. 12. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS12The McCain IT organization uses a variety ofmethods get its message out globally, and down tothe functional levels. First and foremost are townhalls, team meetings and direct communications –having them hear it. Second are continuous e-mailblasts. Third are newsletters and blog posts, whichare done on a fairly continuousbasis.“We also use video. Weve got TVsin a lot of buildings, and we buildvideo streams that are more likecommercials. Were not selling theproject, were just continuing theawareness of it coming,” said Coba.“And the aim is to make it a businessvideo, not an IT video.”He added, “You can’t assume thatone form of communications onlywill work; you have to do everythingfrom face-to-face, to e-mail blasts, to blogs, to wikis– whatever forms of communications anddissemination you have access to.”Branding IT projectsDuring the recent introduction of SAP globally, ITused branding to help gain acceptance, dubbing theproject One McCain. Rather than a pure-playtechnology project, the SAP implementation wasdesigned for the unification of all of the company’sregions and the move to standard global processes.To help reinforce these ideas, a logo was alsocreated for the program, consisting of a sphereoverlaid with a “1”, and with the McCain logoappearing within the globe.“Every time we’d walk into a country or region ordepartment and start talking to people about it,their first inclination would be to say, ‘Oh, wereimplementing SAP.’ And we would push back andsay, ‘No, this is One McCain. Its a businesstransformation project. Its businessstaffed and business led, with ITenabling it. Thats how wepositioned it,” said Coba.To help the branding, key words andphrases were continuously used inall the communications for changemanagement and everything elserelated to One McCain. It was allaround “solving it once”, around“ s i m p l i f i c a t i o n ” , a r o u n d“enablement”, around “insight”.Branding techniques were also usedduring the roll out of a suite of tools for unifiedcommunications, sometimes referred to as U dot.The five- or six-pillar program was to be introducedin phases, starting with Voice over IP, thenCommunicator, then WebEX, and so on.IT sat down with marketing and communicationspeople and came up with the slogan, Follow the dot.“We used ‘Follow the dot’ as a way of connectingthe multiple pillars, and it became our token phrasefor the whole program. We supported the phased inrollout with e-mail blogs, and online training coursesmixed with video. So we used different avenues topoint people to certain things.”“You can’t assumethat one form ofcommunications onlywill work; you have todo everything fromface-to-face, to e-mailblasts, to blogs, towikis…”
  13. 13. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS13An icon in the form of a caricature, inspired by the‘Follow the dot’ theme, was also used to help brandthe unified communications program.Email blasts and blogs became more frequent whenprogram pillars were about to go live, but at thispoint IT began to get feedback that they were over-communicating.According to Coba, its a fine line between too muchand too little, and you just have to find out wherethat fine line is. You can’t take the same approach toevery department and every area of the business.You have to tailor it based on who your constituentsare and how they operate.“It’s unlikely youll be able to get everybody to buyin right away, but over time persistence pays off,and small wins eventually persuade people to get onboard,” he said. “But its a long journey; you have toslog it out. And in our case, we achieved our goals bytaking a subtle, more integrated, and naturalapproach.”Determine what foundationalblocks you need to put in placeyear over year to enable thebusiness to fully realize itslong-range strategyUse icons, slogans and keywords and phrases to supportproject brandingWhat you can learn from Roman CobaEmbed IT directors whosesole responsibility isunderstanding, supportingand adding value to thebusinessKnow where the fine line isbetween too much and toolittle communicationsWhat you can learn from other CIOs
  14. 14. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS14Pawel Siarkiewicz, Genus Capital managementThe CEO and members of the executive team atGenus Capital Management meet monthly, giving VPOperations and Technology, Pawel Siarkiewicz,plenty of opportunity to talk about IT issues, andhow the strategic priorities of the firm relate to IT.He also puts together dashboardpresentations for the company whichhave key metrics from all thedifferent departments as well as IT.“Its one location where we can lookat the whole company, and IT isintegrated into that, as opposed tobeing treated in a special way on itsown,” said Siarkiewicz.Recognizing that communicationscan break down at the lower levelsbecause everyone is so focused ontheir own job, Siarkiewicz has set upcross-departmental committees where projectissues can be discussed.“These committees own the full service of theproduct – the thing we are trying to do – and involveeveryone, as opposed to having IT working on the ITpiece and Finance on the finance piece,” he said.“We have monthly meetings where longer-term andother issues can be discussed. And all the stake-holders are present so we can look at things, talkabout them, see what the impact is.”All the projects at Genus have names that are short,fun and easy to refer to. “We also do things likecreate meaningful icons for tools,” said Siarkiewicz.What you can learn from other CIOs“For example our internal equity research tool iscalled RAMkit and its got a picture of a ram’s head.Its just a fun word thats easy to use and easy tosay. Any time you launch a new product or solution,I would say brand it with a logo and a name, andkeep referring to it by that name.”Sanjiv Purba, CIO, Home TrustCompanyWhen launching major projects atHome Trust Company, CIO SanjivPurba takes great care to get thebusiness messaging around themright.“All our projects are identified bynames that the business under-stands. And if we talk about a sys-tem, its always described inbusiness terms, such as deadlines,people, benefits, and deliverables”said Purba. “We avoid talking about the complexityof the technology, but that can hurt you as wellbecause if people dont understand the complexity,their expectations will not be in the real world. Soits a balance.”When launching a major SAP implementationrecently, the program went under the banner‘Project Axial’, the idea being that SAP sits in thehub, with various phased-in parts of the programradiating out from it like spokes.“There were a lot of discussions around why we aredoing this, how it will affect people, and what thebenefits will be once we get to the end point,” said“...Any time youlaunch a newproduct or solution,I would say brand itwith a logo and aname, and keepreferring to it bythat name.”
  15. 15. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS15Purba. “We created newsletters and had a web sitespecifically around the project. We also had weeklyand biweekly meetings, and we had messages fromdifferent business executives about where theproject is, its status, and whats happening to it.”Town halls were also held at a nearby hotel aboutthree times a year, getting peopleout of the office and into adifferent setting to talk aboutvarious aspects of theimplementation. The entire projectteam attended, including thebusiness, subject matter experts,project managers, and occasionallyeven the president or the CEO.Everybody on the project team wasalso invited to monthly evening off-site get-togethers, simply tounwind and be able to talk witheach other in a casual setting.These proved very effective.A huge multi-faceted communications effort wasundertaken as the project was coming on stream,relying heavily on the intranet to get the word out.Some of the messaging done on video by thecompany president, other executives and Purbahimself talking in a very conversational way aboutthe project.It all paid off in a successful launch and, happily, nodowntime since Project Axial went live July 2011.Sumit Oberai, Indigo BooksWhen Sumit Oberai took over as CIO of Indigo Booksin 2009, the company was already in the process ofrebuilding the partnership between IT and thebusiness. “The mantra over the first couple years ofthis rebuilding period was that the ‘new IT organiza-tion’ would be a business partner, not an ordertaker. That was the mindset that we wanted tocreate in our teams,” said Oberai.Getting to that point would require aparticular emphasis on communica-tions. Every other week Oberai hadseparate meetings with the CMO, thehead of Online, and the head of RetailOperations – the three areas he wasresponsible for. Included in thosemeetings were some of his key directsand some of the business leader’s keydirects.The meetings started off with minorsystems issues and problems but theyevolved over time to discussions around what keybusiness issues needed solving, and how IT couldhelp in their solution. Changes in the IT org structurealso helped turn around the relationship between ITand the business, but constant, frequentcommunications with key business leaders was vital.Now that he sits in the CIO’s chair, Oberai makessure that strong communications with the businessunits continue. He also meets frequently with CEOHeather Reisman to ensure that IT is aligned withcorporate priorities.Mark Bryant, CIO, MMM GroupAs CIO of MMM, an industry-leading program“You can’t assumethat one form ofcommunications onlywill work; you haveto do everythingfrom face-to-face, toe-mail blasts, toblogs, to wikis…”
  16. 16. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS16management, planning, engineering and geomaticsfirm, Mark Bryant sees his role in garnering supportfor IT as one of “continuous evangelization”.Bryant sits on the executive team and sometimesbrings IT staff in with him to demonstrate productsand services IT is building. Twice annually he does atour of all of the company’s major offices coast tocoast, meeting with senior management andregional managers in each office.“I sit down with them and do two things,” he said. “Ifind out what we are not doing well and what wecould do better, and I talk about what we areplanning to do in the future – where we cancontinue to enhance, automate and innovate.Sometimes I make a formal presentation andsometimes I do it informally.”The IT organization continuously communicates tothe rest of the company via multiple channels. “Thereality is everyone has a different preference as tohow they want to be communicated to. There is noone shoe fits all,” said Bryant.At MMM, Bryant himself is a channel; the corporateintranet is a channel; newsletters are a channel, ande-mail is a channel. Because the company alreadyhas the technology to do it, Bryant is alsoconsidering the use of recorded messages pushedout to everyone’s phone as a channel. These wouldonly be used for select important messages.The company is also looking at “LIVE” videostreaming delivered over the network right to thedesktop as another channel, but this means ofcommunication would likely be reserved formessages from the President or CEO.“Leveraging multiple channels to deliver ourcommunications, delivering them in the languagethe business can understand, and using the righttechnologies to do so is paramount to customerservice, choice, satisfaction, and evolving ourtechnology platforms to other useful areas in thebusiness,” said Bryant.Conclusion
  17. 17. STRATEGIC INSIGHTS REPORTMARKETING IT TO THE BUSINESS17While the CIOs we spoke to all have their own unique approach to the task of raising the profile and enhanc-ing the image of IT within the organization, a variety of common practices can be found amongst them. Hereare some key ones that may be helpful to CIO readers.Build business buy-in for your ideasLay the groundwork for your initiatives by building a good rapport with your business units. Considerembedding directors and key IT personnel in the business, and make their sole responsibility under-standing and supporting the business. Segment your audience and discover the important drivers andmotivators for each.Use a variety of communications methodsWhen it comes to getting the IT message out, it is important to communicate through a wide variety ofchannels. Some of the options available include face-to-face, intranet, town halls, divisional meetings,lunch-and-learns, vendor expos, informal off site gatherings, training sessions, newsletters, blogs, fliers,posters, recorded phone messages, and video.Take advantage of established marketing tools and techniquesConsider branding the IT organization and even specific projects. Make use of logos, icons, consistentcolors, consistent behaviour, consistent messaging. Think about designating funds for the full- or part-time services of a marketing professional.Be an evangelistEstablish good connections with members of the executive committee, other key executives, and espe-cially the CEO. Get out in the business to deliver your message, not only locally but to other regions aswell. Make your direct reports and super-users evangelists too.Get creativeIf you want people to sit up and take notice of the IT organization and awaken them to the possibilitiesof IT, you have to give rein to your imagination. Use striking with names. Generate provocative ideas.Release an ideavirus. And get your team involved. Brainstorm with them around creating a buzz andfiguring out ways to spark interest and curiosity in what IT is doing.Find means of validationEnter industry awards events. Communicate your successes to other parts of the organization – espe-cially if you are a Canadian subsidiary. Celebrate, publicize and reward your accomplishments, bothwithin IT and the user community.As can be seen from the above, there are a wealth of tools and approaches that CIOs can take advantage of toraise the profile and enhance the image of internal IT. And while each CIO must determine what is right for hisor her enterprise, it is the conclusion of this paper that all CIOs need to pay attention to enhancing IT’s repu-tation and perceived worth up and down the organization.Conclusion
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