Many IT organizations do not understand what it means to be in IT. The truth is we are not in the technology business. We are in the marketing business.
Time for a Wake-Up Call
We use this reality TV-type format for two reasons. One, it is fun, which helps us break down resistance. But with that resistance lowered, we can achieve our second and real purpose: waking everyone up. The process and the realization of how marketing applies to IT is often startling. That's our intent. There is a lot of inertia and legacy beliefs within IT organizations. There is a lot of cynicism and jaded feelings of "this too shall pass." Therefore, the first step to creating a next-generation IT organization is to shake people up. You need them to take a big step back and realize that all of the focus on technology must be secondary—that the real focus must be on the customer and on the value the customer receives. Period. That's where this process begins.
First Steps to Marketing Success
As an IT leader, it's up to you to begin this process. You must wake up your team and help them see that IT is all about marketing—the real kind. And it's important to note that the order of activities is deliberate. Your team will not be receptive to the idea that it's all about marketing until you wake them up. So, start there. But don't wimp out and just hold another town hall, staff meeting or conference call. If you want to wake people up, you need to do something unexpected and out of the ordinary. Make it fun and make sure that it drives home that it's all about the customer. Then begin the educational process. But more than just education or theory, you need your team put this into practice. One of the things that we do in our IT transformation boot camps is to record video commitments where team members make specific promises to change their behavior and approach things differently. One client uses written team commitments. But whatever you do, you must ensure that your team makes the commitment to do what it takes to reorient themselves into a customer-first and marketing mindset.
Just like Daniel, you and your IT team want to get on with it and get things done. But as Mr. Miyagi demonstrated, the true path to success will begin with a little bit of "wax on, wax off."
About the Author
Charles Araujo is a recovering consultant and accidental author of the book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. He is an internationally recognized authority on IT Leadership and liberally shares his message of hope about the future of IT and what it means for all of us. He is the founder and CEO of the IT Transformation Institute and serves on the boards of itSMF USA and the Executive Next Practices Institute. You can follow him at @charlesaraujo.
To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Seven Steps to a Next-Generation IT Organization," click here.