Self-Marketing--IT's Better Business Value
IT's inability to market effectively is cementing its image as a cost center within the enterprise, according to a new Forrester best practices report, "The Marketing of IT: A Core Element of Improving IT's Business Value." IT departments must embrace the four Ps of marketing: product, placement, price, and promotion, and take a proactive, campaign approach that preaches their role to other enterprise departments, according to Laurie Orlov, vice president and research director, and author of the report. IT departments are failing to communicate their reliability, scope, and breadth of support or to ensure employees understand the improvements made and savings delivered through their work, according to Orlov.
Following a survey of 303 business users about their views of IT communications and interviews with 21 CIOs, Orlov concluded that IT departments are "mediocre at communicating with the enterprise. IT departments are like a black box function, everybody knows they're there, but they don't fully appreciate the role they play." As a result, employees, management, and C-level executives draw their own conclusions about IT from lack of guidance. This can lead to the negative perception of IT being a cost center, budget restraints, and outsourcing. "The IT department will deploy a new system, but people don't know about it because they don't market it. Not only does this hurt the IT department, it can also hurt the deployment of the system. People who don't know about new software can't utilize it. That can hurt ROI."
The study identifies three steps IT must take to repair these problems. First, IT departments must adopt the four Ps of marketing. They must identify which of their products enterprises will utilize the most and communicate their value proposition; implement those products at a price worth funding; understand which place or department within the organization is going to use the system; and target communications and training to ensure awareness and utilization.
Second, IT must take a "campaign approach" when marketing to the enterprise, Orlov says. "A well-executed value campaign, or marketing IT's role, mission, contributions, and deliverables, should be one of the key campaigns within the marketing plan." In addition, rollout campaigns should market the time-based projects and service deployments so management and executives have an idea of what to expect next.
Finally, IT departments must boost their brand, or the positive reputation and trust placed in the organization by the business. They must create awareness about what it can do best instead of settling into a role as a silent service provider. Orlov cites Genesys Health System's IT organization brand, "Nobody Does IT Better," as a perfect example of a company's IT department branding their role within the organization.
"When IT raises its marketing consciousness, other roles in and out of the firm will sit up and take notice," Orlov says. "Technology vendors will step up to help CIOs and IT to make implementations more successful, it will forge relationships between an organization's various departments, and most importantly, enable the organization to function more effectively and efficiently."
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