Mike Souder, a Information Technology professional and blogger, asked me to weigh in on the question, “Does IT Need a PR Rep?”
In another post, Nicolas Carr laments:
A few days ago, I met a well-respected CIO at an event, and the first thing she told me when we started talking about IT was, “I don't really see myself as being an IT person.”
The best response I have is to tell a story.
I once worked in an office with an IT manager that was a crack on the server-side. He knew how to make that server purr like a cat, he could get it to do almost anything, but he neglected the client side.
Clients, in IT as in public relations, are the real customer. They are the workers that need their computers to run. These “clients” felt that said IT manager was incompetent. Why? Because, all they could see was that their computer wasn’t cooperating, they were only interested in the bottom line.
Clearly, not all IT professionals service computers and servers, many are data miners and do other equally important jobs that the rest of us can’t even comprehend. Take the current debate about the NSA, data mining of phone numbers. Most of us don’t even begin to understand how that works, but I digress…
IT has become a commodity because most of us don’t want to mess with technology – we just want it to work.
And it seems that IT has caused some of its own problems by trying to retain too much control, making their function unintelligible to the C-Suite. In effect, knocking it off of the strategy shelf and into the cost center.
In order to be successful, IT will have to be strategic and prove what value it brings to the table. Just like public relations and MARCOM, a command-and-control model just won’t work anymore.
CIOs will need to prove the worth of the IT function to the bottom line, and my best public relations advice would be for IT professionals to demystify the profession and help the CIO develop the business case. Only then will it be a trusted partner, versus a line item commodity.