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Marketing IT and Strategic IT
Virtual Coffee shop - January 29, 2010
Carlyn – Rice
We didn’t have anyone volunteer to lead this session, so I said I could get it going with some discussion questions.
- What is the difference between marketing and communications?
- Do you market IT as a whole, or do you market only IT projects and initiatives; or both?
- Does your institution's IT division have a marketing/communication staff as well as public relations, or is it all the same?
- What is "strategic IT?"
We’ll start with the difference between marketing and communication. My official title is Manager for IT Marketing and Communications, but we downplay the marketing part even if that is what I am doing. The rest of Rice doesn’t know that “Marketing” is part of my job title and I don’t think we have any plans to tell them in the future. The signature that goes out on my communications is Manager, IT Technical Communications.
MARKETING VS. COMMUNICATION
Ted – Mankato
Also on the public relations team for university but reports to CIO and runs IT web site. Good marketing is good communications
Sheri – LSU
Marketing is a subset of communications, IT markets
Chris – Syracuse
Undercurrent of marketing is so that the way we talk about what we’re doing matches up with what our customers think. Sometimes we do “make a sale” like sign up for this, other times it is to change behave
Sheri – LSU
One of the things we have to keep in mind is “brand management.” All our communications must be similar.
One our challenges – like a utility, if everything is happening, and customers have their needs met, things are great. But when we come up with a whole new set of services – like say the Microsoft Exchange server – we need to “market” a whole new set of services to our customers, define the set of services, manage expectations, what can now be done that has never been done before.
Two components – adoption and support or user-directed service documentation we’re moving student email out to MS Live and we want them to go get their accounts, but we also have to support the customers
Duane – CMU
I differentiate between communications and marketing: Communications is what the client base wants to know. Marketing is what I want the client base to know. The kinds of things we’ve had to market – emergency notification system or sharepoint where we want to get away from the old systems. We want them to take advantage of it. This is something we need you to use. On the other hand, communications is more along the line of maintenance windows, down time we are experiences, unplanned.
On Brand management, it is more keeping consistency or “one voice” for all IT communications. Always refer to the entire division of IT and not one department when something is going on. You want to use your same voice whether it is customer driven (wanted communications) or IT-driven (unwanted communications, or marketing).
So Brand management is like PR, right? Anyone else doing that?
I find myself in a dilemma since I am in both camps (university PR and IT PR) and often my IT colleagues are hostile to “branding” IT. IT here wants to be more of its own brand and not fall in step with the university brand. In the corporate world, a department or group has to realize their very existence depends upon the corporate entity. They can’t speak to the public from their own corner. On the other hand, if you can borrow from the university’s template, save yourself production time. There will always be people who don’t like the look and feel of the university brand.
How much does your marketing department (university) emphasize IT as a recruitment tool?
What about faculty who don’t really play well with the rest of the world?
Find faculty who “get it.” That’s more of a dean/provost area. A lot of them don’t get that the majority of email is spam and we stop 180,000 viruses from coming on campus every week, we need to educate them on what IT is doing.
How do you educate your customers on “what IT is doing for them?”
Randy – Lansing CC
I’ve come into education from the corporate world as well, and I don’t currently see here any marketing about what IT is doing for our customers. That might be because of some long-standing ire about things that IT had done to them in the past.
Alison – Texas A&M
We’re really trying to market what we’re doing by audience. We’re very decentralized here but have a monthly forum in a 1 to 1 ½ hour conference for all A&M IT support staff to try and communicate what is going on in central IT so we’ve been able to turn the tide on negative attitudes by including the department IT folks in our plans. We’ve also had an IT committee that has given input on IT for our campus and that has made a tremendous difference. We try to find the mediums where people can gravitate to and express their opinions – but we want to answer them as well, not blow them off. We’ve been trying Twitter and we’ve got a new flagship web site, we want to make sure if someone is looking for something, they can find it easily instead of pushing a lot of information out across all channels.
Monthly ITwire is campus wide, do events, have a computer day, trying to be more collaborative<
Roberta – Nevada Higher Ed
Our customers are the institutions and reputation for IT is usually that we are more the problem than the solution. We’ve been changing our look (example: web site) to be more about customers and less about a technical organization, also – like Sheri said – trying to be more inclusive and collaborative. A monthly forum with CIOs and CTOs to provide them dashboards and relevant figures on satisfaction, what kinds of support calls we’re getting. Marketing is not about the tool, electronic or print, it is about the message. Trying to be more like facilitators.
Debbie – Moody Bible College
Two different groups here, both publishing and college, and we communicate with our customers in several ways. Most effective way is with a faculty shared governance committee. We can market through this group that includes faculty, students, administrators who are agreeing on the projects and initiatives.
Interesting discussion – feedback loop. You’ve got the people who IT is reporting to as well as the Help Desk and the customer support staff. If we are in the right relationship with those people “this is what we’re offering you, this is what you can expect” and there is continuity in the IT organization… that’s the dance of IT. We’re not running a scam. We don’t want to be completely ignored but we don’t go out there and say how much spam we are saving the campus from.
We are highlighting customer stories. We’re publishing what we did for our individual customers. IT people in general don’t want the spotlight, so we’ve had to ask a lot of questions of our IT departments – what have you done this year, who have you helped, and we go and collect the stories from the customers and get their photo.
We’re telling stories in our Annual report.
It’s difficult to know what to tell. What you think is remarkable other people may say “that’s no big deal.” Some times you need to know how to ask.
One IT group is hired by other TAMU departments to do work for them. We’ve used the idea of stories and portfolios where these customers tell their story and how the group helped them.
We working on that now with our governance group. Driven by the economy, we really need to know what our purpose is and our role in the university. Those areas are strategic, will make a difference in our reputation, in our viability, in our student attraction and retention rates, etc. IT grew up piecemeal, as different things were needed, but now that every expenditure is under scrutiny, we need to strategize – how to invest in something rather than just deliver a menu of services. What we are going to be doing, by the end of May, is to have a high level strategic plan of systems that aligns IT with our institutions. How do we redeploy our resources so that our institutions’ missions are supported by our own goals. Are we willing to live with a lower service level on some services because others are higher priority for our customers?
We need to make sure that we not only look at what we bring to the table and what we need to take off the plate. If we can limit our responsibilities to the things that are high priority services for our customers, then we build on what is really important.
…from Educause, one of the speakers talked about when you go back home and you look at the things your community does, make the list of things you are NOT going to keep doing. What are we NOT going to do anymore. One area we need to examine is email delivery services. There are other people who can do that better than I can, so why should I keep spending limited resources on this area. Another area is web sites. Do we really need to keep web site management in house or can we just do content management?
We need to protect the institution as well as using our resources efficiently.
On a macro level, it might be strategic…we don’t have a good request management system. We might be nickel and dimed here because of the small things that eat up our time and resources.
Taking a project management approach, in our second year, have a much tighter handle on our resources and how to allocate them. Helps us make wiser decisions about what we can commit to and complete.
Building up a knowledge base is also a priority right now so we can share that in an easy-to-access tool.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
If you had to start from scratch right now, what would you focus on first: communication or marketing?
I came into education from the corporate world and I started from scratch two years ago. First you have to know what your customers think about IT and need from IT. So I’d say you have to start with communications. I don’t know if those focus groups and surveys would be considered communications or not…
What you did is listen, then digest, then respond with credibility. You have to understand your customers first.
We have a big information school here and IT is working with our upperclassmen to do surveys of different campus populations on how IT is doing. It is good, but labor intensive.
How often can you run the surveys or ask the questions and still have credibility that you are acting on what they are telling you.
We ran our first surveys in the spring and took action in the summer then were able to survey them again in the fall. Have to publish results and actions to customers.