CIOs must publish or perish

It struck me as I looked at a boutique financial firm’s brag sheet stating $2 billion under management that this was very similar to the vanity metrics of corporate IT – only in the case of CIOs, the metric is more focused on “petabytes under management.”

This is perfectly logical in a “container-centric” model where all forms of cloud storage are fundamental to enterprise IT strategy. But it is no surprise that the storage usage represents structured and unstructured content that is even more fundamental to the businesses being served.

Admittedly none of this is revolutionary.

What has become revolutionary is the ability for CIOs to communicate the contents in the containers and the competitive advantage that can be derived by aggregating, manipulating and deriving insight for competitive corporate strategy.

The successful 21st century CIO runs a publishing/media company as well as a technology company. They are inseparable, and just as in academia, the CIO must publish or perish!

Perish is such a harsh word. But in a digital era where words like “marginalized,” “irrelevant” and “overshadowed” are being directed toward the IT suite, adding “perish” to the list probably isn’t as shocking as it used to be.

The competitive challenge internally is such that every business unit is attempting to communicate insight derived from the data that enterprise IT stores. This leaves IT in the unenviable position of either being satisfied as a storage company, or to broaden its brand relevance related to communications in the eyes of HQ and the businesses.

This brand extension requires a shift in mentality that every byte of data can in some way tell a story that can be socialized across a business or the enterprise as a whole.

There are 5 action items that corporate IT can execute to put a “perish prevention” communications program in place:

  1. Don’t confuse data visualization with data storytelling. The former has always been a way for IT to stick its toe into the shallow end of business unit communications. Unfortunately in far to many cases visualization of a data set still requires a set of stories crafted to specific constituencies. The CIO as publisher will be required to have these storytellers on staff, especially if there is a data science reporting line into enterprise IT.
  1. The word “Publish” has a totally different meaning in the digital world. In most cases it is now a button on a content management page or web site design application. Clicking that button means that content is instantly going viral. CIOs will need to tailor the content they are storing to be published on a wide variety of social and traditional channels. This could require multiple angles for the same stories based on technology proficiency and/or organizational level.
  1. As data is being increasingly crowdsourced from throughout the enterprise and marketplace, corporate IT will be responsible for filtering and then converting unprocessed user-generated data into broadly distributed and highly reliable user-consumed insight. This will require very tight synchronization with business unit constituents so as to assure understanding of key messaging themes broadcast into the marketplace.
  1. As discussed in previous articles, this is a perfect opportunity for IT to play marketing’s own game of “shadow.” Many communications-driven IT organizations are embedding marketing, storytelling and publishing talent into their teams in order to increase street cred in the eyes of the businesses.
  1. Start with small wins. Begin to publish “IT News You Can Use” or “Data – Did You Know?” bulletins that reinforce IT’s communications brand while giving the businesses something new and practical to use in their day-to-day work.

What has your CIO done to communicate the value of “The Brand Called IT” internally and externally?

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