Déjà Vu All Over Again, Or Why CIOs Still Fail At Communicating Value

Peter Burris

One of my colleagues, Karen Rubenstrunk, is a principal advisor for our CIO Executive Program. I’ve known Karen for close to 20 years; she is a superior CIO coach. Recently, we found ourselves discussing the challenges CIOs have communicating business value. Here is Karen’s point of view:

If you’ve been around tech management as long as I have, at some point you’ve had the conversation that keeps on giving (like heartburn): how to better communicate the value of technology to the business.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve continued to wonder why we keep having this conversation over and over and over.

At a recent CIO Group Member Meeting, I found myself drawn into this conversation yet again — and being the lone dissenter in the room about what to do about it. While we kept talking about which new technologies or recent economic trends were making the task of communicating value so difficult, I’ve learned that the real problem isn’t technical, it’s personal: CIOs need to focus on perceptions and invest in the power of personal relationships with business peers.

Perceptions Drive Value

Technology’s perceived value to the institution is directly related to the maturity of the relationship between technology management and other functional managers and their teams, and that relationship is built on two fundamental perceptions: 1) the business’ perception of its dependence on technology, and 2) the business’ perception of technology management competence (see figure below).

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