If you’re in business, two things are likely true.
- Your business is increasingly dependent upon IT services and processes to do business, especially if digital transformation – however your organization defines it – is on the agenda.
- Your users are not uniformly thrilled with the IT services and support they’re getting from those responsible for delivering and managing those services and that support.
Part of this dissatisfaction is because technologies – and, arguably, many technologists – are not designed – or wired – from the ground up to be particularly aligned with the preferences, skills, and behaviors of non-technologists. But many of the issues with IT Services can be overcome and improved if your colleagues in IT would spend a bit more bandwidth on some skills beyond IT. Specifically, marketing, sales, and customer care skills.
Why IT Needs Marketing Skills
Marketing is, at its core, the process of identifying and engaging an audience with messages, stories, and information that resonate with them, then persuade and invite them to engage further. If IT is to lead the digital transformation almost every modern business needs to undergo, IT needs to tell more, better, and more engaging stories to its primary constituencies.
ProTip: None of those constituencies is populated by a majority of technologists like IT tends to be. Some translation, interpretation, and patience on both sides is therefore required. And the most compelling stories IT people can share with non-IT people do not focus on bits, bytes, speeds, or feeds, but on opportunities and benefits.
Why IT Needs Sales Skills
Where IT-powered apps and IT services are concerned, deployment success is ultimately determined by two and only two things: user adoption and user satisfaction. To maximize both, IT must stop simply throwing new and updated apps over the transoms and cubicle walls of their constituents. Instead, IT needs to know how to get those constituents excited about how those new and updated apps are going to help them be more productive, more secure, or more whatever it is they want to be or have more of.
ProTip: As great salespeople know, to engage and persuade effectively, it’s essential to tune into the only “station” most constituents care about consistently. That would be WII-FM, an acronym for “What’s in it for me?”
Why IT Needs Customer Care Skills
Every user of IT is effectively a customer of your IT team and its leaders. And we all are or have been customers at some point in our lives. We therefore all have pretty good ideas about how customers should and should not be treated. And for many if not most of us, when we compare how we’re treated by IT to how we think we should and should not be treated, IT can often come up a bit short. (What other team of business service providers have you heard referred to collectively and derisively as “The Sales Prevention Department?”)
ProTip: The younger your IT team, the less likely they are to provide consistently high-quality customer care. That’s not a knock on younger people. It’s a result of the fact that given their strong preferences for doing business online, many of them have never actually seen high-quality customer care in person.
What IT Should Do
Make friends with and learn from marketing, sales, and customer care colleagues. Implement processes, solutions, and metrics that focus on things users and other constituents – IT’s customers – care about. And to reiterate, those things are rarely if ever bits, bytes, speeds, or feeds.
Successful IT enablement and support of critical business goals is essential to maximize the value of business IT investments. It is also a prerequisite for successful digital transformation – however your organization defines it. To achieve any or all of these, collaboration across multiple silos is absolutely necessary. Since it’s IT’s job to power the business, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if IT were to engender some of that collaboration. It’s a role that may not be familiar or comfortable. But it has the potential to pay big dividends, organizationally and professionally.