Does your IT organization struggle to communicate value to your business partners and constituency? Do you know how your services are perceived by users and customers?
These are two questions that IT organizations traditionally have difficulty answering largely because they do not have a clear understanding of what customers need and what they value. Most IT organizations have grown organically, focused primarily on the technology necessary to support a business function or agency operation. For a long time that was good enough. But, as IT becomes a bigger and bigger part of an organization’s ability to compete in the marketplace, the stakes are much higher.
Enabling your customers is still the primary goal, but focusing on technology as an adjunct to your organization is no longer enough to be successful. In a world driven by IT, IT needs to be run like a business.
WHAT WE MEAN
Running IT like a business means that the IT organization has all the elements of a fully functioning business operation. This includes capabilities in traditional business functions:
- Sales and Marketing
- Product Management
- Investment (Portfolio) Management
- Business Planning (Forecast and Capacity)
- Financial Management and Back-office
Most IT organizations focus on Product Management (technology) and Operations (technology delivery) and don’t have strong competencies in the other business areas.
If you’re not intentionally engaging with your customers to communicate value, you’re missing an opportunity to truly understand what they need. If you don’t have a good understanding of their needs, you’re likely missing the mark on delivering IT in a way that meets their needs. IT organizations need to start thinking about leveraging sales and marketing techniques to sell their products and services, something most IT organizations simply do not do. But before you get that far, you need to be clear on what IT is selling. Are you selling products or are you selling services?
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KNOWING YOUR WORTH
This is very important and it’s where many IT organizations get tripped up. Even though your customers may be asking for products (technology), what they really value is service. For example, they may be asking for bigger and faster storage technology (a product), but what they really value is a storage service that provides on demand, end-to-end delivery of the storage they need, when they need it, to do their job and support their customers. If they don’t get this from the IT department, they’ll go to a 3rd party supplier that markets and sells “on demand” storage services. In this scenario, if you’re not selling storage services, you’re at a significant disadvantage.
If your customers are looking for outside services that IT doesn’t provide (or doesn’t provide in a way they need) and you’re not part of those discussions (think Shadow IT), your organization is likely suffering from poor value perception.
Ultimately, providing services unlocks a very important benefit of the Business of IT: it puts you in a better position to sell your value and brand because you provide what your customers need and they understand what you can do for them.
If you’d like to find out more about aligning your business needs with services your customers value; or if you’d like to learn more about other Business of IT topics like how to create a business aligned IT plan and budget, financial management and so much more, download your copy of our new eBook titled “The Business of IT: Why Running IT Like a Business Matters More Than You Realize” today.