Communicating Value

Posted on: May 12, 2017

A few weeks ago I was given a great book titled “The Real Business of IT.”   I’m still working my way through it, but I have begun to find some pearls that I thought were worth sharing.  The first one:  it is estimated that half of the capital spending by businesses worldwide goes toward IT and IT-related investments.  That has to be a pretty staggering figure. 

Higher education is not immune to significant IT spending either.  We are currently focused on our budget process, and as many of you are aware, we are working with the Central IT Executive Commission (CITEC) task force to provide information on our services and what they cost.  This will be a critical exercise to help determine the value of those services and their importance to campus.  We will certainly discuss more on this topic in the future.

As I read on, I realized that we complete projects and turn up services on a regular basis.  However, we don’t do a very good job at tooting our horn on the value that some of those services deliver.  And if we do, we often get stuck in our tech speak, discussing gigabytes per second or talking about peering and caching (my last week’s update).  Sometimes that does not translate to our community. 

Just as we are experts in communicating the technical aspects of what we do, we also need to become experts in communicating the value of our efforts and what we deliver.  And to take that a step further, we need to be able communicate that value in terms that our campus community and partners can relate to.  When was the last time we touted one of our accomplishments in terms of how it would speed the rate of graduating students… or how that latest software release will improve our ability to compete for research grants?   I’m not sure we ever have, and I would be the first to note that at the moment I’m not even sure how we make the connection.  But I’m convinced we need to figure out how.  Here’s another pearl from the book I mentioned:  “Those IT organizations that can’t communicate their value are destined to be viewed as just a utility”!  Being a utility is not what I signed up for.

So where am I heading with this?  This week our CIO staff committed to developing a communications strategy.  As part of the Financial and Accounting Services (FAS) portfolio. we have the opportunity for some assistance and resources to help with this.  We brainstormed on this a bit, and it is my goal that we focus on a few key areas:  

a) Communicating the value we deliver

b) Recognizing the individuals on our team and the great work you do 

c) Strategic focus and goals


This is just a start, and I would be interested in hearing some of your thoughts regarding this topic.  Thank you all for all that you do!