Tag Archives: Engagement


The Friday Update 4: Getting your head out of the clouds to engage with business partners

Long gone are the days when an IT leader could forge a career by simply keeping enterprise systems up and running. As my article for Computer Weekly this week demonstrates, CIOs must move beyond the safe confines of the technology department and work with senior executives across all lines of business:

Great CIOs are able to have conversations with their peers about challenges in their specific area of the business and the potential use of technology for innovation to create value. Such CIOs act – first and foremost – as business leaders, and then as technology chiefs.

The piece includes comment from Jaeger CIO Cathy McCabe, who I profiled just before Christmas. McCabe has made it her number one priority to create an IT-led business transformation. As proof of her abilities, she was promoted to the board six months after moving into the CIO role. Yet McCabe also recognises digital awareness is not her only capability:

“I’m not your typical IT professional. Like everyone else around the boardroom table, I’m a business person. We all work closely together to make the most of IT because technology touches every part of a modern retail organisation.”

I’ve also had a piece published by ZDNet this week on best practice tips for moving to the cloud. The piece centres on the transformative work of Chris Hewertson, CTO at hotel group glh, who has pushed a cloud-led business transformation in his organisation. The firm does not run any in-house servers and 95 per cent of IT services are delivered through the cloud:

“You often have to bring the case together for three or four processes. The true value from the cloud often only becomes clear when you’re running many services because the benefits of resourcing then become sharper to the rest of the business.”

I’ll be writing about cloud again during the next few weeks. I’m also working on copywriting projects for clients. If you’d like me to give you a hand on white papers, research or corporate copy, let me know. When it comes to editorial, I’m always keen to hear from CIOs, c-suite executives or independent experts who have something interesting to say about any form of business technology. So drop me a line at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk. It would be lovely to hear from you.


The Friday Update 2: Priority setting for the New Year – from the Internet of Things to the power of personal branding

A couple of weeks into 2016 and priority setting continues apace. I’ve just written a piece for ZDNet, which suggests that CIOs can expect to hear a lot more about the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2016. The trend is right at the peak of Gartner’s hype cycle for emerging technologies and IT leaders will have to help the business make sense of connected devices. The experts in the article – including Colin Lees, CIO at BT Business – suggest the role for IT leaders is to help their executives get beneath the hype and understand potential use cases:

“If you’re a business leader who’s focused on revenues and margins, you’re not going to be overly concerned with something that isn’t going to affect the business for at least five years. The IoT is struggling from being too intangible. Nothing happens in the world without a business case. But once you’ve got one, you can get moving.”

I spoke to Colin at length for Computer Weekly just before Christmas, where he outlined his achievements in regards to organisational transformation. Lees’ aim for the next 12 to 24 months is to help BT Business build on the platform and services the firm has developed. His other objective is to continue his journey towards being a more externally focused CIO, including offering best practice advice to some of his peers:

“I’ve taken the things I’ve learnt during the past two years and I’m using those as case studies. I’ve got major CIOs of blue-chip companies coming in to see about their IT estates, regarding how they deal with information and security. What I’m finding is that, when I speak to peers, we have a lot to talk about. When you’ve been there, done it and got the scars on your back, it helps to create very good conversations.”

I’ll be speaking to other CxOs about their business and IT priorities during the coming months, so if you’re a senior executive that wants to be profiled – or you just have something to say – drop me a line. I’m always keen to chat with interesting people. As I mentioned last time, I’ve got a few editorial projects on the go at the moment. I’m having a look at virtual reality in the business, so if you’ve got an opinion on VR, let me know at mark.samuels@gmail.com or mark@samuelsmedia.co.uk.

Top communication tips for winning over the business

Does IT need an image make over? Here’s my latest feature for TechRepublic, which discusses the need for CIOs to develop a well-honed communications strategy.

IT tends to neglect its own PR – and often only steps up communications with the business when things have already gone wrong. That approach has to change, say a growing number of IT leaders.

Communicating the value of technology to rest of the business is tough. Other functions, such as accounts or facilities, exist in almost splendid isolation, but technology has become the underlying architecture of the modern organisation.

CIOs charged with running the IT architecture have to communicate value to an increasingly technically literate audience. They have to deal with high user expectations, pushed upwards as employees in the age of consumerisation often have better access to technology at home than in the workplace.

But help can come in the form of a carefully-honed communications strategy, and leading CIOs are already drawing on external expertise to prove the business benefits of IT. Here, three CIOs share their top tips for using communications to boost business perceptions of IT.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

Five tips for CIOs: How to solve a problem like communication

IT enjoys an unwelcome reputation for working behind closed doors. Even when the tech team comes up with a great solution to a problem, IT people often fail to communicate potential benefits in terms the business can easily understand.

In a collaborative age, where engagement inside and outside the business is a given, IT leaders have to work harder to develop top communications skills. I recently spoke to some IT experts and produced five top tips for silicon.com on smarter engagement.

1. Employ a communications specialist in the IT department - Matt Peers, CIO of consultants Deloitte, is part of the new, younger generation of IT leaders. He has recently taken over technology stewardship at the company, bringing with him more than a decade of customer-facing experience from high-street retailer Carphone Warehouse.

Strong engagement with all interested parties is the absolute crux of the matter for Peers. “I base all my leadership on good communications,” he says. “Engagement is the key component for successful IT.”

Since joining Deloitte, Peers has helped work towards the recruitment of an internal communications specialist for the IT department. This specialist will analyse IT strategy and help define in simple terms how line-of-business executives can benefit from the good work of the technology team.

“It helps you concentrate on the type of message that you are really trying to get across to the rest of the organisation,” he says. “Having a head of internal communications for IT is not about technology but about demonstrating the capabilities we can provide to users across the business.”

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

Twitter and customers: Talk like friends, but without swearing

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, who went to great lengths to explain to a select audience why business leaders must recognise how a continual focus on the customer help keeps executives honest.

Reed was speaking at the CIO Connect annual conference that took place in London last week. There was loads of insight from speakers about the best way to deal with the increasing influence of the consumer over business technology, most of which will appear in the autumn edition of CIO Connect magazine.

But Reed had a particularly strong take on engagement. His entire organisation is focused on simple, honest communication with the customer. And when it comes to creating a social media strategy through Twitter, Reed’s advice is simple: “Talk as you would talk to your friends, but without the swearing.”

Rather than confusing customers with acronyms and double-speak, Reed encourages executives to “keep it natural”. Which I think is a pretty concise summary for how businesses should approach all forms of communication.

CIOs share seven tips for social media strategy

Here is another of my features for silicon.com, which presents advice from technology leaders on creating successful engagement through social technology:

Social networking has become a key medium for interacting with colleagues, contacts and customers. So why are some businesses still scared to let their employees engage?

As many as 48 per cent of companies still ban their staff from accessing social networks at work, according to research from HCL. The survey suggests many executives believe social tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, are too distracting from day-to-day activities.

That perception can be a challenge for modern CIOs who are charged with moderating communication channels, while ensuring the continual flow of information. Below, leading business executives provide seven tips for creating successful engagement through social technology.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.

How to get providers to buy into your agenda

The days of supplier relationships simply being about establishing a one-to-one partnership seem to be over. The complexity of modern provider relationships requires new approaches, as illustrated by this feature by me for silicon.com on supplier engagement:

People, so the popular adage goes, buy from people. That maxim is particularly true in business IT, where CIOs must first understand line-of-business demands and then create effective relationships with key suppliers to produce anticipated benefits.

But how can CIOs engage with providers to meet those much-desired business outcomes and what type of challenges will need to be overcome? In many cases, the supplier relationship is no longer as simple as the establishment of a one-to-one partnership.

The days of a company outsourcing its IT to a single provider are fast becoming a thing of the past. The total value of contracts worth €20m or more stood at €10.5bn at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, according to outsourcing advisory firm TPI. That total, although significant, represented a 31 per cent drop from the fourth quarter of 2009 figure.

To read the rest of the feature, please click here.