August 13, 2012, 12:08 PM — Several times a year Gartner Executive Programmes conducts an academy for experienced CIOs. This year I had the immense pleasure of attending a Gartner CIO Academy in Oxford. This live-in event was conducted over four days and attracted 30 very experienced IT leaders from 16 different countries. During one very lively conversation between participants, the conversation turned to the reputation of IT within the organisation and how poorly this aspect of the relationship with the organisation is managed.
Patrick Meehan, a Gartner research director whose CIO career was with the prestige fashion brand Louis Vuitton, recently led some exciting research on the branding of IT. The underlying tenet of Patrick's findings was that a brand is a promise -- and that IT leaders need to maximise their business impact with a strong IT value promise.
What is this elusive thing called brand? And how does it apply to an IT organisation? A brand is most definitely not a logo, or a vision statement, or even a derivative of the IT strategy. A brand is a perception and a promise. It is a person's gut feeling about a product, service or company. A brand is defined by a perception, good or bad, that your customers or prospects have about you. One CIO Patrick interviewed said: "CIOs need to remember that if they don't build their own brand, it will be built for them ... reputation management is essential".
The most recent Gartner CIO survey revealed surprisingly low levels of digitisation of the front office -- technology deployed in marketing, sales or product development that drives revenue, user engagement, or development and bundling of new products and services.
This finding contrasts starkly with data gathered from Gartner CEO and Board surveys -- which clearly show that business leaders expect technology to power the business's success in driving new models of engagement, creating new products and services and entering new markets.
For the business to succeed in the current tumultuous environment, IT needs to step up. Until now, IT has rarely been seen as a credible provider of business solutions. IT's ability to make this move comes down to a branding problem. IT must be seen as an innovator -- moving into the front office and powering new business solutions.
Your current IT brand has been formed over time by combinations of how you engage with your colleagues, how you contribute to your business, how you establish your IT agenda and how your contribution is perceived.
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The following is a very quick and informative assessment of your current IT brand. Answer it candidly to determine your current brand position.