If you have trouble communicating how technology helps your business, you’re not alone. A recent study found that 63% of CIOs say they struggle to communicate IT Business Value.
No doubt CIOs are the experts on how IT helps businesses. But when they’re having trouble communicating their value, it’s clear that this problem isn’t their fault. And it certainly isn’t unique.
Technology can feel, at times, nebulous to those on the outside of the industry. That’s why communication is vital to improving the way stakeholders and coworkers view technology investment.
Unfortunately, though, until something goes wrong, most people don’t even think about IT. Ironically, it means that the better you do your job, the fewer people notice your value.
In this article, we’ll discuss 7 ways you can better communicate IT business value. In the end, you’ll be ready to begin taking actionable steps towards improvement—and maybe a promotion while you’re at it.
In this Article:
- Be Accessible & Transparent
- Follow the Money
- Demonstrate the Competitive Advantage
- Keep Up and Educate Others
- Discuss Your Projects and Goals
- Know Your Audience
- Educate About Cybersecurity
1. Be Accessible and Transparent
Being accessible is one of the first steps that leaders can take to help communicate IT business value. Your job isn’t like “The IT Crowd,” and it’s important to show that by being available.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your stakeholders need from IT. Be available to solve problems and address concerns. If someone has a question about how something works or why something was done a certain way, don’t be afraid to ask them for more details so you can better understand their needs. This will help you ensure that your team is providing them with the best possible service at all times.
It’s also important to be as transparent as you can. Display your projects or send your reports to the whole company. Truthfully, they might not read them, but they will at least know they can. Transparency builds trust, and we all listen better to those we trust.
2. Follow the Money Forwards to Communicate IT Business Value
Following the money usually means looking back to find corruption. For IT, follow the money forwards to find how your dollars are improving the business. In this section, we’re not really discussing proactive investment, which we’ll discuss later in regards to cybersecurity.
Following these trails can help you see what investments have paid off. These matured bonds, so to speak, are great items to communicate.
Think about it this way: It takes, on average, 11 seconds to read an email. Imagine a new email filter that blocks just 100 emails a day across the company, which is a moderate number for an average-sized business. Tallying that up over a year, you’ve collectively saved around two weeks of wasted time.
That example may be a bit whimsical, but it is a really effective way to think about how to communicate IT business value.
3. Demonstrate the Competitive Advantage
Very few people talk about the second person who accomplished a feat.
Occasionally a great buy-in for your IT strategy is that you can beat your competitors to it. If you’re considering a new idea and realize that it would be unique across the industry, this might be a really great way to communicate IT business value for sales and marketing.
Everyone wants to beat the competition. Use that to your advantage to make ears perk up in the next stakeholder meeting.
4. Keep Up & Educate
The adage about technology always changing is true. As the IT decision-maker, it’s up to you to know where the trends are headed next. More importantly, though, you should know why those trends are emerging.
Occasionally, you’ll find that a trend is a worthless fad. That’s good; investing money in technology for a fad is a waste.
But when you realize that a trend is worth investing in, learn how to discuss the why with your stakeholders. Explain why you’re passionate about one trend and find another worthless. Detailing your deliberations helps stakeholders know you aren’t just following trends.
Educating others about technology trends is great as well. Help people understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Getting support from the lowest-ranking employee all the way to the top can make a positive impact on IT and company morale.
5. Discuss Your Projects and Goals with Everyone
“Discuss your projects and goals to communicate IT business value” sounds like common sense. But when was the last time you stood up in a company meeting and explained your goals or demonstrated some kind of vision board? Your department might have seen your goals, but they’re already on your side.
Prepare a presentation for your peers to explain where you want to take the business and why. Discuss the roadmap that brought you to where you are now. That way, when you’re asking everyone to start using, let’s say two-factor authentication, they know why.
By the way, you should be using two-factor authentication. Let’s talk if you aren’t.
6. Know Your Audience
Let’s be honest:
Your non-technical intern doesn’t care that the new email filters are going to save the company 80 hours a year. They don’t care that the new IT campaign will put them ahead of the competition. Telling your intern about IT is like telling the board of directors about purchasing a new coffee maker.
To communicate IT business value with stakeholders, consider what matters to them. People are selfish. Explain how it will make their lives easier, line their pockets, save time, or whatever you know to be important to them.
7. Talk About Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has the potential to be the one item that’s easiest to discuss. Anyone who reads the news knows that cybersecurity is a major threat to any organization, no matter how big or small.
If you can explain the true threats of cybersecurity, chances are it will become easy to communicate IT business value. Cybersecurity pitfalls are available in every step of an IT infrastructure, so any improvements do impact cybersecurity.
You consider cybersecurity in all of your decisions. Make sure your stakeholders do too.
It’s Time to Start
Wherever you’re at in your communication journey, there’s always room to grow. If you’re having trouble taking your IT to the next step, we’re here to help. Learn more about our IT services, and please get in touch with any questions.