7 Ways the IT Department Can Improve its Reputation

March 5 2019

Today’s global environment is one of constant change, and the pace continues to accelerate – driven largely by technology. Radio took 38 years to reach 50-million users, TV – 13 years, the iPod – 3 years. Facebook hit 200-million users in under a year. CIOs and their teams are increasingly expected to have answers to the questions raised by this staggering rate of change, and in recent years this has often resulted in the IT Department becoming isolated from the wider business. So how do we work more closely and effectively with the business
to improve the reputation of our technologists?

Align clearly and visibly with core strategy and business objectives

Technology in the 21st century is a key driver of success and should be closely integrated and aligned with the business at every level. Equally, the risks associated with emerging technologies often need careful consideration. There needs to be clear linkage and a mechanism for communicating the way in which IT will enable the core mission and make best use of the opportunities it presents to grow, compete and collaborate, whilst also securing the organisation’s valuable information assets. The obvious example for today is the Cloud.

  • How will your organisation make the inevitable move into Cloud technologies?
  • How does the business break down across the delivery models?
  • Where are the non-core and less complex areas of the business that will suit the high speed deployment and cost effectiveness of a public cloud, and what are the more complex, high risk and strategically important areas that may need to be managed in a private cloud?

Being able to answer these questions relies on close alignment of strategy, and the clarity that brings speaks volumes to the business.

Engage with and understand the business

As the pace of technology change has accelerated, and budgets have been cut due to the economic climate, many IT staff have been drawn away from the front line business, resulting in a break down in the relationship between the IT Department and operations.

Engaging more closely to re-build those relationships will enhance the reputation of technologists and enable greater innovation and more rapid change as a deeper understanding of needs leads to a greater level of trust across the organisation. Networks at all levels need to be created and internal communication channels should be developed and managed in the same way as those that lead to the customer. The 21st century is social and it’s mobile. It follows that people will expect to see that kind of engagement in the work place.


Moving from delivering and operating technology services to transforming and enhancing in the future Cloud based world requires a different approach. CIOs and IT leaders need to have a clear vision of new capabilities and opportunities and humanise the abstract content of strategy by setting out the timelines, benefits and risks associated with change. Leaders, managers and users in business units should be empowered to become involved in technology development through continuous engagement and the opportunity to developing technology skills and build knowledge. Structured engagement and training enables this as part of the day job – not just during the project lifecycle.

Set expectations

Expectation setting is and always has been a core responsibility across the organisation, but one we quickly forget or cut back on when timelines or budgets are squeezed. People are key to successful change, especially change enabled by technology. Return on investment is a guaranteed zero without user interest, adoption and correct utilisation. Who are the stakeholders, what are their interests, where are the connections between them, and what will the human experiences be at organisational, team and individual levels? The answers to these questions will drive a communication strategy which sets clear expectation, and continues to build trust.

Have a point of view and react to events and developments

New technologies are emerging and maturing all the time. The ‘next generation’ is never very far round the corner and keeping the business up to date on technology developments is a serious undertaking. The IT Department will always be asked “what are we doing about…?”, and the absence of an answer causes endless frustration and erodes trust. By aligning, engaging and networking more effectively it becomes easier to focus on those areas that are relevant now and likely to be relevant in the future.

Creating a community of experts across the business allows a more proactive approach to providing positioning statements or
updates on internal and external events relevant to the business.


In the future, more and more of the technology estate is going to move into the Cloud in some form. Even if that takes the form of an internally delivered private Cloud, the nature of the technology will present opportunities for re-skilling of IT staff. This development opportunity should be approached on the basis that the most successful business are going to be those that innovate more rapidly than the competition. The IT Department of the future leads that innovation and works within the front-line business to investigate and develop new approaches to utilising technology based on business priorities and plans.

Be recognised as a centre of excellence

Every CIO should be driving the IT Department to be outstanding at what they do. In future that means more innovation, more leadership and being more pioneering. As the world is drawn to social, mobile, Cloud based and Big Data focussed technologies performance becomes ever more visible not just within, but outside the business and being market leaders and recognised high performers becomes even more important.


The world has changed dramatically and continues to do so, but the introduction of social and the move to the Cloud have brought about a real step change in opportunity and in risk.

Every CIO needs to be in a position to influence. And in future the most successful will take on a multi-disciplinary role, responsible for a broader remit across the business, leading change through innovation and thought leadership. Working closely with colleagues in the C- suite, the CIO will ensure technology capability is embedded across front line operations, in a visible position to guide, understand and build trust at all levels.

Behaviours are changing – individuals, employees and consumers are becoming more and more influential. Social networks and mobile technologies surface comment and discussion about how your business works and is perceived in a very public and immediate forum. By engaging, leading and building trust you can ensure the discussion is a positive one, and if it’s not, at least be in a position to respond.

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