Give IT an image makeover: Five ways CIOs can improve how colleagues think of tech

Tips and tricks for boosting how IT is perceived within the business...

Consumerisation and social media have helped change internal perceptions about the IT department but some concerns persist

Consumerisation and social media have helped change internal perceptions about the IT department but concerns persistPhoto: Shutterstock

How can IT leaders overcome entrenched views of technology and create the type of communication that boosts the perception of the IT department within the company? Mark Samuels reports.

Technology is still often seen by other business executives as a service, rather than a business essential. At the same time, ever-increasing consumerisation means workers across the organisation now have clear views on how they think internal IT should operate. spoke to five IT leaders to get their take on how CIOs can help change perceptions.

1. Become the champion for innovation

Comic Relief CIO Marcus East says perception has long been a challenge for IT functions and departments. It's a challenge that has increased in recent years, with employees eager to understand why they cannot do things in the office that they can do at home with consumer IT.

"Arguments about the need for corporate security used to be enough to stop non-compliant users in their tracks, but that approach won't work anymore. IT leaders need to address this issue and become the champions for people's use of technology in their organisations, rather than trying to resist innovation," says East.

Internal perceptions of IT can only improve when the function is recognised as an expert resource and the driver of innovation, says East. That transition is not necessarily easy to complete and CIOs must work to ensure that team workers understand internal customer demands.

"It requires different skills in both the leader of the function and across the department, and a much more customer service oriented approach," says East. "Here, the aim is to work out how something can be made possible instead of saying something cannot happen. Only with that change can perceptions improve."

2. Invest in your IT talent

IT has a bad reputation. Rather than being seen as human and approachable, technology is regularly viewed as a dark and automated art hidden away in the back office. Consumerisation and social media have helped to lighten perceptions but some concerns persist.

Wayne Smith, head of IS at Birmingham International Airport, says he has found that some people in the business still find the technology department a bit...

By Mark Samuels

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.