May 18, 2010, 1:48 PM — Making an IT organization act like a business is no small job. Letting your internal business customers know you're doing so is just as crucial, particularly today, when business leaders are scrutinizing the performance of every department.
Enter the idea of making IT a brand. As IT works to transform its culture from serving technology to serving customers, some leaders are concluding that the best way to communicate what their often misunderstood and overlooked organizations can do is to put a face on the department.
In the spirit of Nike ("Just Do It"), Burger King ("Have It Your Way") and nearly every product or service sold today, some CIOs are looking at the idea of creating logos and slogans not only to convey who IT is and what it can offer, but also to ensure that business clients won't forget it.
At the Oregon Department of Transportation, CIO Ben Berry has been working for more than a year to redefine his IT organization and develop a plan to market the services it offers. The project will culminate this summer in the rollout of an interactive portal that, among other things, will trumpet IT's success in meeting service levels and provide a conduit for two-way user communication.
Splashed on the portal Web page, and on any communiqué emanating from IT, will be a logo and a slogan that -- Berry hopes -- will convey the essence of the transportation department's IT unit and sear it in the minds of users throughout the agency. "It's a new concept, but we're changing our culture, and it's something we think is necessary to make our customers aware of our services," Berry says.
At the Computerworld Premier 100 conference this spring, several CIOs alluded to using logos or simply new names for their IT groups. During one presentation, for instance, Johnson & Johnson CIO LaVerne Council spoke of branding the company's IT department, including creating a logo, as part of an IT centralization effort. And an IT executive at Procter & Gamble noted that there is no more "IT department" at his company -- now it's IDS: Information, Decisions and Solutions.
Worth a thousand words
Using images and catchy slogans, these organizations and others hope to forge a strong association between the services users enjoy and who's providing those services, says Carolynn Benson, a consultant at Ouellette & Associates in Bedford, N.H. "When you market IT, you're setting the vision of 'Who do we want to be?' And then you try to capture that in a logo, through an image and a slogan."