Creating an IT “Brand”

Meaningful scorecards, process discipline and operational efficiency are all important to the CIO. However, do not underestimate the critical element of morale within your organization.

In 2005, I became CIO of Schneider Electric North America, a $3Bn division of a large French company.

I inherited an IT department that was dispirited by rounds of outsourcing and canceled ERP projects. After years of being bashed by the business, the organization did not feel respected or recognized. Much of the criticism was undeserved, but no one pushed back. We were truly the “dog that ate the homework” – an easy target to blame for any business problem that might occur.

I will never forget what someone said to me when we first met.

“Dave, please just make this place fun again.”

As someone who had spent years in the consumer products industry, I knew the importance of branding. I was determined to create a new “IT brand” within Schneider and regain the trust of our business partners – earned through performance, not just through marketing gimmicks.

And that’s what we did.

We hired a full-time marketing professional to ensure all our business communications were meaningful and consistent (no more mass emails to our business partners announcing some mysterious server would be offline from 1201EST through 659EST).

We launched a campaign called “Making IT Work for You” to help every employee get back 30 minutes per day through smarter use of email, smart phones and their calendars. As part of that campaign, we created a series of comedy videos indicating the “wrong way” to manage these tools, which you can see on the right.

After being ignored in the standard company recognition program, we created our own awards program broadcast live on our internal television network. Even our sales and marketing professionals never pulled that stunt.

I believed in my team and they deserved the recognition. My team often thought I was a little crazy, but I know they liked that I always stood up for the team and pushed back when necessary.

CIO Feature Article

CIO Feature Article 2009

 

Within three years, not only did we turn around the performance record, we earned back the trust of the business. One heartfelt statement from a single employee led to my proudest achievement and an invaluable life lesson.

Our efforts were featured in a CIO magazine article, which you can read here. After that article, I was asked to deliver the 2009 keynote address at the CIO conference entitled “Breaking the IT Stereotype” I believe that the IT organization often gets a bad rap and it’s the CIO’s job to change perceptions.

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