Recap WITI Orange County - March 19

Chrissy See

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Branding your IT services is critical now more than ever to reduce the risk of becoming irrelevant to the Business. How many IT departments today are equal partners with the Business in making successful decisions? Is your IT department considered an after-thought? Communication and being open to change is vital for growth and success. At our March 19th OC WITI event, our guest speakers presented different points of view on how the IT/Business Relationship is perceived by the Business, IT, and/or vendor side.

Technology is constantly changing and so is the business. Terri Avnaim, VP of Marketing at Predixion Software, was our first panelist to speak, informing us about the importance of embracing change. If you are part of an organization that is not constantly changing, there is a risk of becoming irrelevant, or worse, eventually dying off. Marketing communicates the value of the (IT) business and has to be always pertinent to their consumers. Marketing teams perform research analysis to understand trending behaviors. Data is very important to the business and Marketing has to address why a product or brand didn't achieve a certain goal. When IT doesn't understand their own business service or the needs of the business, consequently, the Business finds ways around IT. With different perspectives in place, there must be a process to market the IT to the business and vice versa.

Before discussing how to market IT to the Business, the first question asked to the audience, 'Do we know what a brand is?' Joel Manfredo (former Chief Technology Officer of the County of Orange known for his 3Ts: Transformation, Turnaround, and Technology) states a brand causes an instant reaction. A brand can also be what consumers say about you when you are not in the room. To entice customers, your business should be transparent. Where do you begin? Separate the product from the brand and ask yourself:

Who are you? There are 12 brand archetypes: Innocent, Explorer, Sage, Hero, Revolutionary, Magician, Everyperson, Lover, Jester, Caregiver, Creator, and Ruler. CIOs need to aspire to be categorized as Sage with a motto of "The truth will set you free".

What business do you want to be? It should be about the customers, and always about them. Use the Marketing VRIO analysis technique to identify your branding elements that will resonate with your customers and differentiate your IT services from the competition. Create a tagline that exemplifies your service (a) having value, (b) is rare, (c) costly to imitate, and (d) has intrinsic knowledge of the organization for leverage.

How do you persuade an organization to buy into your brand? Typically, your customer base falls into one of 3 personality types: 1. Yay types (always all in, and is 100% with you) 2. In between types (half-in, on the fence, have not decided) 3. Nah types (not all in - do not believe anything). In order to get an organization on board with your brand, here is a trade secret: start first by swaying the "on the fence" types.

IT must stay relevant with the Business and should add value where the Business is lacking. IT, like the Business, has risk of becoming irrelevant. Remember the rumors with cloud and BYOD. "Will the cloud be the end of the IT department?" "Is bring our own device the end of the IT department? IT can be a credible provider of market-facing business solutions. IT can find holes in the business strategy and provide new channel opportunities for the business. IT can also help by promoting the same tagline as the business with their department logo. As an example, Joel displayed The Oregon Department of Transportation logo that included a unique bold "T". Their IT's department logo was daTa done righT using the that same unique bold "T".

Top 2 skills you (and your IT services) need in order to be successful:

- Focus on Strategic Communications
- Be able to Market IT to the Business.

Christina Kosmowski, Senior Vice President at Salesforce.com, runs the Customers for Life Organization for the Western Region. Their drive is to build partnerships and customers for life. When customers are at the forefront of the business, you gain trust as a client advisor. (Remember Joel stated that IT should be the 'Sage' brand archetype.) Data insight is valuable in a changing world. Customers will utilize your business more if you understand the metadata of their data. Communicating your insights with your customers helps the business understand the future. Expertise plus Insight equals Results and being Agile with a flexible framework ensures Credibility. Businesses are not projected to be like how we envision them today. The thought of 100 year old companies is of the past and the future of competition will have 20 years or less history. The waterfall methodology is an ideology of the past and the center of excellence theory is now. IT and the Business should meet frequently to discuss their goals and strategies. Salesforce actually engages both IT and the Business, evenly in a 50/50 split, when they sell their product. Christina in her orange pumps reminded us to always be authentic in our communication.

We were able to close out the event with some Q&A from our panelists. Remember, IT and the Business are wired differently. Security and costs are the concerns of IT. Long term effects are concerns of the Business. For IT to build a valuable relationship with the Business, IT needs to:

- Understand the business's valid concerns to benefit the growth of business.
- Build transparency among groups; communicate priority lists among the divergent teams to continue a successful business into this future of constant change.
- It is imperative that IT and the Business never stay stagnant to avoid risk of irrelevance. Always be authentic while communicating with your brand and people.

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