To communicate effectively, it's incumbent for CIOs to talk about every technology initiative in terms of its business benefit and value.
Virtualizing an enterprise's infrastructure, for example, is often viewed as a purely IT-centric initiative that may lead to some cost savings, but has no tangible business benefits. Done properly, however, virtualization all the way through the desktop can provide valuable benefits to the business. Things such as customer service and employee's work flexibility can be achieved via virtual desktops that can accessed from any Web browser, plus publishing software applications for device-independent access and creating a much easier disaster-recovery program. All of these things add business benefits and value to the organization.
It’s up to the CIO to communicate tech-oriented initiatives in this manner. Successfully doing so leads to much better discussions about the substantive issues at play, and also enables the CIO to firmly ground technology initiatives in the context of strategic and operational value. This is no small matter. The ability to communicate in the business language of the organization is one of the crucial skills that, in the long run, will materially impact the career of a CIO.
So the next time you’re asked the question at the beginning of this article, respond with Oui, je parle couramment français. Or, maybe, "Yes, I speak business."
About the Author
Formerly a CIO at Amerisure, Frank Petersmark is CIO Advocate at X by 2, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based technology company specializing in software and data architecture and transformation projects for the insurance industry. He can be reached at fpetersmark@XBY2.com.
To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Three Keys to Effective Time Management for CIOs," click here.