Marketing to the evolving IT organization

Two recent articles in CIO Magazine feature companies (Yum Restaurants, Quintiles Transnational) in which IT departments are taking on new roles in order to more effectively serve their organizations.  With a focus on what’s new and noteworthy, these articles profile departments that are leading their peers in reorganizing and redefining how they provide value. Such a shift has important implications for the value propositions, messages, and creative aimed at this audience.

These profiles may tempt B2B technology marketers to envision their IT prospects as innovative, business focused problem-solvers instead of the internally focused risk-averse technicians of yesteryear.  We advise some caution before jumping on the bandwagon. As in any market, it’s misleading to define IT as a homogeneous group. The reality is that IT organizations—and the leadership and staff within them—span a continuum in terms of how they define their mission, their goals for the future, and the mix of personalities and decision making styles.  Based on Isurus’ extensive research with IT decision makers over the past 10 years, it is true that most IT organizations are in transition.  Where they are in the transition and what they are transitioning to/from varies; but they are all undergoing change.

As important as it is to understand the evolving goals in IT organizations, it can be equally insightful for marketers to understand the factors that mitigate their ability to achieve those goals.

  • Organizations typically make investments that are consistent with how their performance is actually measured; It is useful to understand whether IT’s performance is assessed using traditional metrics or if those metrics reflect new goals.
  • Industry-specific needs also influence the pace of change in IT.  Retailers typically change more quickly than financial institutions due to differences in organizational culture and regulatory environments.
  • Organizational culture and leadership personality play a significant role in how much or how quickly an IT department evolves.

What does this all mean for B2B technology marketers?  Recognize and embrace the diversity within IT organizations.  Take a close look at the pace of change in your target audience.  Understand both their evolving goals and the barriers they face to achieving those goals. Be prepared to repeat steps 1-3; change is the only constant.