Ten years ago, ‘geek speak’ was tolerated in the C-suite as they obtained purchase orders for tangible assets such as PCs, switches and monitors. But today, geek speak is a CLM. Especially if you are trying to justify software infrastructure projects such as composite application development.
A recent article in CIO Magazine highlights recent trends in how CEOs are viewing the role of IT: ”…While systems effectiveness and efficiency are always required of a CIO, CEOs want IT leaders who are not only accountable for technology operations, but who also drive innovation, fuel growth, enable change and create competitive advantage. They expect IT leaders to focus outside the walls of the company — on markets, customers and sales opportunities — and then to suggest, develop and execute product strategies to take advantage of those opportunities.”
What does this mean, exactly? More and more CEOs recognize that there is value in technology, not just in the operational sense, but in the overall success of a company — and they want IT executives to show them how, in a language they can understand.
Overall, this trend is a boon to IT executives — as long as you know how to speak the C-level lingo. To help you prepare, below we offer some tips to consider for your next meeting or presentation with the business side of the house:
1. Show value. Demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s top operational goals, and be able to explain how composite applications and mashups will contribute to the achievement of them. Key on cost reduction, productivity, competitive advantage, etc.
2. Vision, not version. Describe how you’ll get from A to B, and what it all looks like in the end state. In plain business terms, and in plain business graphics (Excel, PowerPoint are the tools of the day) outline the process, and the expected immediate and long-term results from the strategy. In these materials, avoid discussions about specific version numbers or technical features — have this kind of information in your appendices in case they ask.
3. Reference third party validation. The first — and sometimes only — technology validation question from the CEO is usually: “What does Gartner or IDC say about this?” So be prepared to cite credible analyst data on the growth and adoption of certain technologies and point to relevant success stories within your industry (and by your competitors).
4. Qualify and quantify. Be able to discuss a clear list of goals that can be achieved by implementing the technology, such as increase productivity or decrease costs by XX percent. If the project gets funded, realize your data collection has just begun — be sure to track the progress of your goals and share the results with the CEO on a regular basis.
What’s above is really just the most basic best practices to sell composite applications and mashups to top brass. Certainly, there is more to cover. If you have any other suggestions, please put them in comments and we’ll expand the list as long as it needs to go.