A brand is a promise: Building IT brand impact
Patrick Meehan, a Gartner research director whose CIO career was with the prestige fashion brand Louis Vuitton, recently led some exciting research on the branding of IT. The underlying tenet of Patrick’s findings was that a brand is a promise — and that IT leaders need to maximise their business impact with a strong IT value promise.
What is this elusive thing called brand? And how does it apply to an IT organisation? A brand is most definitely not a logo, or a vision statement, or even a derivative of the IT strategy. A brand is a perception and a promise. It is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. A brand is defined by a perception, good or bad, that your customers or prospects have about you. One CIO Patrick interviewed said: “CIOs need to remember that if they don’t build their own brand, it will be built for them … reputation management is essential”.
The most recent Gartner CIO survey revealed surprisingly low levels of digitisation of the front office — technology deployed in marketing, sales or product development that drives revenue, user engagement, or development and bundling of new products and services.
This finding contrasts starkly with data gathered from Gartner CEO and Board surveys — which clearly show that business leaders expect technology to power the business’s success in driving new models of engagement, creating new products and services and entering new markets.
For the business to succeed in the current tumultuous environment, IT needs to step up. Until now, IT has rarely been seen as a credible provider of business solutions. IT’s ability to make this move comes down to a branding problem. IT must be seen as an innovator — moving into the front office and powering new business solutions.
Your current IT brand has been formed over time by combinations of how you engage with your colleagues, how you contribute to your business, how you establish your IT agenda and how your contribution is perceived.
The following is a very quick and informative assessment of your current IT brand. Answer it candidly to determine your current brand position.
|We listen to our colleagues||1|
|We engage our colleagues||2|
|We educate our colleagues||3|
|We gather needs||1|
|We look for opportunities||2|
|We propose business solutions||3|
|The business tells us what to do||1|
|We tell the business what it should do||2|
|We collaborate and then just do it||3|
|We are a cost centre||1|
|We are a service centre||2|
|We are considered to be a value centre||3|
Now add up your scores. Here is the relationship between your score and your how your business partners perceive you.
• 4 — 7: Mired in supply-side IT with reactive demand management
• 8 — 11: Mired in supply-side IT with limited proactive demand management
• 12: Fully engaged in business solutions; ready to move on to the front office
Knowing your current brand is an important first step in any rectification process. The second step is understanding what this means in terms of your IT organisation’s current status on the relationship journey.
All IT brand categories are not equal. They range from arms-length transactional relationships to close partnerships. Gartner proposes that four types typically exist:
At risk: Where the CIO and IT deliver below business expectations. Credibility and trust are very low, and the only focus is improving IT service delivery to achieve satisfaction. This relationship type is not sustainable.
Transactional: Where the CIO is viewed as delivering to enterprise needs, with the business leaders and CIO engaging mostly on functional issues related to delivery of services that help the business run. Most relationships are here.
Partnering: Where the CIO has achieved credibility for IT service delivery, engages the CEO and business unit leaders on business issues, and leads some business initiatives, such as enterprise wide program management or business process improvement.
Trusted ally: Where the CIO behaves as, and is viewed as, a true business leader, leading significant proportions of the business. This relationship type is still relatively rare.
Assessing your current IT brand and understanding your current position on the relationship journey are vital in terms of planning IT brand and maximising your business impact with a strong value promise.
Linda Price is group vice-president, executive programmes, Gartner. Email comments to Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org
Read related story: The year of leading strategically
Follow CIO on
Download CIO for your tablet here.
Click here to subscribe to CIO.
Sign up to receive free CIO newsletters.
Send news tips to email@example.com
CIO100 2013 Overview: Chief transformation officer
CIOs are across a raft of programmes using disruptive and traditional technology - effectively leading change throughout the organisation in a tough economy.
Fighting for privacy
An interview with Kaliya Hamlin, aka 'Identity Woman' and head of the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium, which aims to give individuals control over their personal data and how it is used by corporations.
- New Zealand’s IT leaders announced at CIO Awards
- Amazon CTO: Stop spending money on ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’
- CIO Agenda: Innovate and transform on the ‘third platform’
- Five ways to create a collaborative risk management program
- BlackBerry pitches to NZ businesses in bid to recapture market share
CONNECT WITH @ CIO NZ
CIO is bringing together the best of MIS NZ and CIO, the new look CIO is the only magazine that focuses on the unique management needs of senior IT professionals.
Get the latest news from CIO delivered via email.
CIO 100 REPORT
The definitive guide to New Zealand's largest and most significant ICT users.
READ NOW »