I’m sitting at a banquet table elegantly set for 10, the other seats graced by tuxedo- and gown-clad executives and superintendents from Procter & Gamble and the Chicago Police Department respectively. There’s electricity in the air, suspense, camaraderie. CIO magazine is honoring my tablemates with an award for achieving outstanding value through information technology. When CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg announced the winners, each group rose en masse to collect their award, buoyed by cheers (and whistles!) from the 200 or so people filling the hall.
Reading their faces, I see both pride and humility, and in one case, a little tear in the eye. After returning to the table, individuals from both P&G and the police lean over to me and say, in different words but to the same effect: “You can’t imagine how important this is to us, how it affects our organization.”
Yes I can.
I know winning an award is more than a brief moment in the spotlight, a temporary morale booster for overworked IT employees back home. I have proof that IT awards are in fact one of the most effective tools in a CIO’s repertoire for running the IT organization like a business.
Yes. Like a business.
We recently asked CIOs at more than 100 companies with respected IT reputations to tell us how they run IT like a business. (You’ll get the full results and analysis in our next issue.) Staring at me off an Excel printout, near the top of the list of the most effective practices, was this: “Winning and showcasing IT awards.”
Winning awards was ahead of strategic planning meetings? It outranked auditing? It eclipsed risk management, chargeback and internal customer satisfaction surveys? I dared to ask our research guru Lorraine Cosgrove Ware to recheck the numbers. She humored me and recalculated the findings. The results were the same.
So I pondered. Winning awards increases morale, which increases energy levels, which increases productivity. A highly productive team is critical for a healthy business.
Winning respected awards from objective third parties increases credibility in the enterprise. IT needs credibility to be perceived as more than a cost center-to be considered a disciplined, effective business function. One that would be missed if it were outsourced to India or China.
Sharing credit for IT awards with the business sponsors increases mutual respect and reinforces the value of strong IT-business partnerships. The ability to partner successfully is a hallmark of any healthy business.
As soon as this lightbulb went on in my head, I got another flash-we’ve got to create more IT-business awards programs! We’ve got to help CIOs succeed at running their organizations like well-oiled businesses.
If you have any ideas for new awards programs, send them my way. In the meantime, visit www.cio.com/awards and check out our existing programs. I want to sit next to you at the next awards banquet and bask in your business glory.
Richard Pastore, Editor