CXO

How do you solve a problem like communication? Five top tips for IT teams

The best ways of addressing tech people's famously poor communication skills...

...challenged by change in the market. Questions about new potential technologies come from the business every day and you're always likely to be behind innovation, as the market should always be faster," says Carlbom.

"I try to focus on systems that can bring sustainable value to the organisation. In my view, we can excel at being smart in intelligence and in understanding the broader collaborative trends."

4. Look to the younger generation of IT leaders

As leader of the IT effectiveness team at Deloitte, Phil Everson meets CIOs on a daily basis and works with IT leaders across the UK to help create change programmes that benefit the business. His conclusion is simple: CIOs are not great at talking about the potential benefits of IT.

"There is a definite communication problem," says Everson. "People talk about the need for technology executives to develop and generate a hybrid of IT and business skills, but teaching business skills to IT people doesn't work; and neither does the converse teaching technique."

You cannot, as such, teach an old IT leader a new bunch of business-focused communication tricks. However, there is hope for change and Everson believes that optimism comes in the form of a cadre of younger CIOs who are engaging with the organisation and helping to redefine the role of IT in the business.

"A new generation of CIOs is emerging who have IT and business skills," he says, suggesting that we are moving towards an era of business-relationship management and that the successful CIO will be a communications specialist.

5. Develop good governance to demonstrate the value of data

The need for good communication is not going to go away. Jim Orr, author of Data Governance for the Executive and a director at IT company Information Builders, says 2012 will actually be the year that CIOs learn to communicate the true value of IT.

"More C-level executives will start asking searching questions of the CIO and will look to challenge the traditional status quo," says Orr. He argues that a CIO who manages to introduce a solid framework for data governance will be best-placed to demonstrate how information and technology can benefit the rest of the business.

"CIOs are in a learning phase right now. In 20 years, IT leaders will look back to what's happening at the moment and recognise that the industry morphed and changed. Technology will eventually be a business discipline that is entrenched within the central organisation - not an outsider looking in," he says.

"IT leaders must continue with the education process and show how information is an asset to the organisation. Good governance of data should enable CIOs to undertake unusual business activities through IT. The number one benefit of good governance is transparency and visibility."

About

Mark Samuels is a business journalist and editor at IT leadership organisation CIO Connect. He has written for various organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Guardian Government Computing and Times Higher Education.

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