4 ways to better market IT to rest of the business

In many companies, IT suffers from an image problem. Here are some steps IT managers can take to improve the perception of their teams among other departments. 

IT departments in most organizations plan to do more to market themselves to other areas within the organization in the coming year, according to a recent survey from CIO.com.

Among the 563 IT leaders surveyed, 64% plan to focus on marketing the IT department in 2013 and show the rest of the business more of what IT can do. That’s up from 55% in last year’s survey.

One of the main goals of those efforts is to change the view of the IT department from cost center or obstacle to business peer. Unfortunately, right now just 20% of IT leaders say their teams are viewed as peers by other departments in the organization. According to those respondents, the IT department is seen as a group that helps develop business strategy, rather than just helps execute it.

However, the rest of IT manager said their groups are seen as:

  • Influential collaborators on technology (32%)
  • Service providers (26%), and
  • Cost centers (15%).

How to better market IT

Fortunately, views of IT have improved recently. For example, the percentage of companies that view IT as a cost center is down from 21% reported last year.

Here are some steps IT managers can take to continue that positive trend:

  • Approach executives and department heads — Instead of waiting for execs and other leaders to ask questions, IT leaders can seek those people out to offer knowledge on emerging technologies such as cloud computing, mobile devices and big data, and teach business units about the IT projects that may help them.
  • Stay up to date — It’s hard to help other departments find ways to meet their goals if you don’t know what those goals are. Some IT managers interviewed by CIO say their teams sit in on other department’s meetings, and other experts recommend at least informally touching base with business units regularly.
  • Get yourself out there — One third of IT managers regularly visit their internal customers, up from 18% two years ago. Beyond learning what problems other areas are having that may be helped by technology, those visits should create positive opinions of IT.
  • Get staff involved, too — Likewise, IT managers can increase the visibility of the entire department. It can help train people in leadership and communication skills and delegate more so that other departments have regular contact with more members of the IT team.

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