IT Best Practices: Embracing IT Marketing

Every IT organization seems to be under constant performance pressure. The pace of business is increasing. Budget pressure is always present. The complexity of regulatory compliance is exploding. Employees expect full support of the latest, often consumer-orientated, technologies... yesterday.

This pressure is amplified as our businesses become even more dependent on IT. The business looks to us in IT for a competitive advantage—solutions for faster product development and delivery cycles, business intelligence and automated analytics tools for better decision making, and an overall reduction in the cost of doing business. On this journey to forge a competitive advantage, we are faced with limitless challenges. To be successful, we need to market IT.

Marketing is a Skill

Marketing often has an undeserved negative perception as an instrument of deception and manipulation, or a creative “spin” of reality. Marketing is actually about understanding customer requirements and translating the value of a product or service into terms the user can understand and appreciate—a skill that is critical to achieving the goals discussed above.

Marketing Helps Us Connect with Business Partners

Proper marketing creates a connection between IT and our customers and partners. Effective marketing means connecting with customers at a personal level, transaction by transaction. The result will be delivery of the right services at the right time, based on the unique needs of the audience, and increased trust.

Marketing Can’t Replace Good IT Practices and Execution

Developing better relationships with our customers and using marketing techniques will not mask poor IT performance or service. However, marketing can re-enforce positive impressions and help deliver the competitive advantage our businesses want. I often hear IT professionals state, and I agree, that we must run IT as a business—optimize investment decisions, prioritize our programs like a portfolio, and monitor progress, making required course corrections. If that is the case, what business would choose to

forgo marketing and miss the opportunity to understand its customers’ needs? We should embrace the concepts of marketing in IT.

Four Effective Ways to Embrace IT Marketing

Intel IT has embraced the importance of marketing our organization’s capability and solutions to our partners and employees. Here are a few of our “best practices.”

1. Annual Performance Report. For the past 10 years, our IT organization has published an IT Annual Performance Report to communicate our operational strategies and results to our partners, employees, and other IT professionals. IT is often the silent hero, or visible to customers only when something goes wrong. People often know only the part of IT that they rely on, but don’t have an appreciation for the breadth of IT’s responsibilities. It’s easy to cry, “why aren’t you prioritizing me” when you don’t realize there are other programs on the priority list. Documenting and communicating the breadth of services we offer and the value we provide has helped us

change that perception.

2. Productivity Tips for Employees. For the past five years, the Intel IT Products and Services Communications team has published an internal bi-weekly corporate-wide newsletter (we call it Digital Edge) focused on the technology and solutions available from Intel IT. Digital Edge articles educate Intel employees on a variety of information technology topics to help them improve productivity and take advantage of new IT products and services. Over time, readership of this newsletter has grown to 70 percent of its distribution, an incredibly high readership for a “pushed” communication. Some of these articles have been republished for external consumption at www.intel.com/IT.

3. IT-to-Admin Audiocasts. No one markets to a homogeneous population, and therefore segmenting your customers is imperative. We found that the administrative assistant community is a key influence point that propagates awareness of IT service and perception. IT hosts a series of quarterly audiocasts for Intel’s administrative assistant community. This format provides quick, timely updates to an influential audience, with IT experts on hand to answer questions.

4. Offering Information at Users’ “Point of Need.” Our IT communications and training teams develop content to help employees learn and make the most of IT solutions. Our internal IT intranet portal offers the latest “IT news,” optimized search, and a comprehensive product catalog. We monitor support calls, chats, and submitted help tickets to identify topics that warrant additional focus. A new focus for us is to deliver this content at the user’s “point of need”—for example, when an employee goes to investigate, order, or download a specific product or application, they also get the

information, tips-and-tricks, and training on how to best use that specific product.

Let’s Take Charge of Our Own Destiny through Marketing

We all seek better partnership with our business stakeholders. We want to improve IT’s ability to create a competitive advantage for our respective organizations. I believe there is a need to “market” IT. Create the connection between IT and the business - that’s marketing! Certainly, marketing is alive and well inside Intel IT.

How are you working to market your department's accomplishments and expertise?

Do you have a formal plan in place?