Turning IT Doubters Into True Believers

Too many business leaders have little faith in IT's ability to deliver value. To save themselves -- and their businesses -- CIOs must change that negative perception into a positive belief in IT as a strategic partner.

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Since that time, Martin and his team have gone back to those key influencers with another request to assess IT’s value and capability. There’s been an uptick in the ratings, but acknowledges Martin, changing perceptions takes time. "At least two to three years," he says.

What about the sales executive who hated IT?

"He was a big mountain to climb, but we’re making good progress there," says Martin. He may not yet love IT, but he has begun to invite IT to his strategic planning meetings. And good thing—he’s now president and CEO of Armstrong Floor Products.

Beyond the Money Pit

Successful IT leaders keep an eye on anything that indicates positive or negative movement in IT’s reputation, from quantifiable things such as customer satisfaction surveys and post-implementation audits to more anecdotal evidence such as being invited to strategic meetings or the chat around the watercooler.

"I listen for the number of positive comments versus negative comments," says La Rocca. "And today there seems to be more positive than negative, with comments like, ’I didn’t know IT had it in ’em,’ or ’Wow, we’ve never seen this information before,’ as opposed to, ’Oh yeah, IT, the big black box. IT, the money pit.’"

Dave Holland, CIO Of Genesys Health System, keeps an eye on system usage in the hospital. IT true believers will use the systems to their full potential. In fact, Holland takes complaints about systems from doctors as a positive sign. At least, they’re sold on using them. (See "IT: Under New Ownership," Page 54, to learn how Holland got medical users to sponsor IT projects.)

CIOs agree that turning IT doubters into true believers is an ongoing process. Roy has seen the results of his quarterly customer satisfaction surveys take a definite upturn over the past 18 months, from the 60th percentile saying IT meets or exceeds expectations to close to 90 percent. But that, he says, just buys him more time to make improvements. "It’s a marathon, not a sprint," he says.

"It’s an ongoing challenge," agrees La Rocca. "I take two steps forward and one step back every day. And given the complexity and magnitude of IT, I don’t think you’re ever fully there. But that’s what keeps it exciting."

CIO Senior Editor Stephanie Overby can be reached at soverby@cio.com.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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