by Peter High

IT Learns to Trumpet Its Contributions to the Business

Oct 29, 20143 mins
IT LeadershipMarketing

Under the leadership of CIO Kim Stevenson, Intel's IT team produces its own annual report, plus a mobile app full of multimedia content, to showcase tech plans and accomplishments.

Let’s face it, most CIOs aren’t very good at marketing IT’s value to the business. The IT group tends not to celebrate its successes, or if they do, they do it internally without letting other departments in on the good news. Not only does this mean that other departments aren’t aware of the value IT contributes, but it may even contribute to a false impression that IT is underperforming.

In my book Implementing World Class IT Strategy: How IT Can Drive Organizational Innovation I discuss how high-performing CIOs constantly make the enterprise aware of IT’s contribution to bottom and top lines of the business. One of the rare IT leaders doing a great job of that is Intel CIO Kim Stevenson, who has developed an IT version of the corporate annual report. Just like the typical company’s overall annual report, Stevenson’s IT version covers accomplishments from the past year, projections for the year ahead and (this is especially important) financial information. That means an analysis of the money invested in IT and the value created from that investment.

Stevenson’s 2013 annual report touts accomplishments such as building a “robust private cloud,” creating a social platform for sales team collaboration and developing analytics systems that “help drive unit sales by focusing our Sales & Marketing people on key customers at the right time with the right set of products.”

IT’s yearly update also presents her team’s views on subjects like big data, cloud computing and security. The 2013 edition covers a range of hot topics in articles such as these:

• “Our IT Environment,” an overview of the technology that Stevenson’s team manages, with statistics such as IT spending per employee.

• “Protect to Enable,” in which Chris Sellers, general manager of IT information security, discusses the company’s security strategy.

• “Embracing Change,” an explanation of how Intel IT embraces the consumerization of IT by David Aires, general manager of IT operations.

• “Design Innovation,” in which Dan McKeon, general manager of product development IT, describes how Intel IT is helping to accelerate and transform product design.

Of course, an annual report is just that–annual. What can IT do to provide more frequent updates? Stevenson says one small Intel IT team came up with the bold idea to reinvent the way “we deliver information to our peers and the industry” by using social channels and mobile devices. The fruit of this thinking has been the development of the “Intel IT Business Review” app, which delivers a regular series of articles from Intel experts via a mobile app for smartphones and a digital magazine for tablets.

The goal, as Stevenson puts it, is to “engage with [readers] at key points along our journey, sharing insights and best practices and regularly [connecting readers] with our IT experts, customers and fellow travelers.”

The app provides multimedia content such as white papers, videos and podcasts, plus the Intel IT Annual Report. The company hopes the app will encourage IT professionals to share Intel content on social networks and “help Intel IT keep the conversation going throughout the year.”

All of these ideas draw in the broader company to become active participants in Intel IT’s journey. More importantly, these activities reorient the IT team toward documenting and communicating the value and accomplishments of their department. Stevenson wishes to do the same thing that the business, writ large, does in communicating its performance to investors. More IT executives should follow her lead.

Peter High is president of Metis Strategy, a CIO advisory firm.