As the IT profession evolves, so do the skills we need to be successful. Be it with employees, vendors, or customers, here is how IT leaders are using the soft, but more than necessary skill, of communicating to succeed in their roles.

Eric Johnson, Chief Information Officer, Momentive

February 22, 2023

4 Min Read
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It’s what makes us human, and in our professional lives, it dictates the path we take to drive our businesses forward. In a study by Salesforce, 86% of executives identify ineffective communication as a major cause of failure in business. For IT professionals, this skill is important for everything from managing vendor relationships to identifying resourcing needs for your internal teams. But this wasn’t always how IT showed up.

‘The Office’ series depicts this well, with the IT guy Nick not arriving until season four, episode 17. This was back in 2008. Today, IT has taken on more of a jack-of-all-trades function. We’re on the hook for everything from ensuring security and compliance to driving operational efficiency and business growth.

As the IT profession evolves, so do the skills we need to be successful. Be it with employees, vendors, or customers, here is how IT leaders are using the soft, but more than necessary skill, of communicating to succeed in their roles.

Communication Informs Resourcing Needs

Previously, IT professionals didn’t gather nearly as much intel from employees as they do today. That’s not to say we’re tracking your lunch-break Amazon purchases. It does mean IT leaders should be asking more questions of their employees to guide where they invest team and company resources. For example, every six months consider sending a global IT survey to key business partners. This is a chance for you to identify how well you’re working together, answering questions like do we need to realign? Do we need to support in a different way? What technology do you need to deliver your best work? The responses are anonymized, but leaders can then take that data and break it down by function.

Today’s IT decision makers need to put their consultative hats on and partner with the rest of the organization. Have a conversation and take the necessary time to hear people and give them a voice. For example, once equipped with employee sentiment on tech needs, the IT team can partner with the procurement team to improve the vendor purchasing process. With the right data, IT can ensure the organization is paying for software features employees will actually use, and not bloat. Being willing to listen will take you and the rest of the organization much further than operating in silos.

Communication Helps Proactively Decrease Security Risks

Only half (51%) of IT decision makers say they are very confident in their organization’s cybersecurity measures, according to a recent study. Security and compliance are one of the critical foundations of the IT profession, and timely communication is essential to limiting any security risks.

COVID-19 has turned the world of work upside down and inside out since that fateful day in March 2020 when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. Because of this, remote work has become our new norm, with people in and out of the office and working from a personal computer whether that be from a home office, a public coworking space, a cafe, or frankly, anywhere that has a stable internet connection. This also means unsanctioned technology is growing, and the variables for ensuring security are more dynamic.

There are tools required to add to your security architecture. For example, my team leverages technology to drive a zero-trust approach to security. Additionally, we regularly run security training programs on how to identify and report phishing attacks to better understand our internal data handling policies. We’ve also made a point of partnering with our internal communications team to ensure all employee communications are informative, actionable, and timely. There is no such thing as communicating too much in this high-stake area for your stakeholders, especially on this topic.

Communication Eases Adoption of New Programs and Policies

Previously, IT was known as the infamous office of “no.” In this scenario, it wasn’t surprising that people would go around you or turn off the engagement. As an IT leader, you need to bring in the human element that technology lacks. Making sure your new program, policy, or technology is part of a broader, internal discussion is critical for adoption.

This could look like “roadshows,” where representatives from your team go around and explain a certain change on a more select basis. Creating a plan and being thoughtful will pay dividends for ensuring a proper roll-out.

There are few roles that work as dynamically across teams as IT, so ask more questions and listen. By understanding the individual goals of each department, you can be the glue that ties them to overall company strategy. Build the communications muscle, and you just might drive your business to new places.

About the Author(s)

Eric Johnson

Chief Information Officer, Momentive

Eric Johnson joined Momentive, maker of SurveyMonkey and GetFeedback, in 2019 and oversees its information technology vision and roadmap. As the Chief Information Officer, he drives priorities around security, data infrastructure, business intelligence, and tools to support success at scale. Previously, he was CIO and SVP at both DocuSign and Talend. Before that, Eric spent 12 years at Informatica driving the vision and strategy for global off-shore support and delivery and architecting the support for its migration to a SaaS platform. He has a B.S. in Industrial Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Eric sits on the board of Larkin Street Youth Services.

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