Sarah Smith-Robbins (Intellagirl)

More than a help desk – expanding the value proposition of central IT

Marketing the potential benefit of things people don’t understand yet.

Think more like researchers and entrepreneurs.

Value proposition – should differentiate you from your competitors. Give people confidence that you can meet their unmet needs. Are we presenting our value effectively?

What are the perceived vs. real unmet needs?
Are they confident that we offer the right things?
What is IT’s competition?

Perceived Value – actual value is very complex and we can’t expect people to understand it, so market by differentiation against competitors.

Perceived value
Actual value

IT has more than one customer. They all see us differently.

Admin – actual value: cost savings, security and regulatory expertise, sells the campus
– competitors: outsourcing, ROI
Differentiators – IT is part of campus culture, higher quality than outsourcing because of our expertise,
The only cost center on campus whose returns increase year after year.
Learn the language of administration
Express cultural value and significance better.
Leverage data in better ways.

Faculty –
Actual value – streamlining and supporting necessary teaching and research tasks, pertness for innovation (faculty who you haven’t helped don’t know because faculty son’t talk to each other).
Competitors – “edupunk” (routing around the campus and not tell anyone), contagious griping and misinformation,
Differentiators – making meaningful connections with faculty, seeking opportunities to support/encourage learning and research, even if it’s one faculty at a time, network with department IT professionals, create faculty evangelists, establish trust and confidence by being practice as well as responsive.

Staff –
perceived value: new and expert at finding new ways to cause delays.
Actual value – problem solving. Need to understand what staff do.
Competitors: budget, ad-hoc solutions, loss of confidence (so they don’t even ask)
Differentiators: transparency – time and costs; providing expertise in processes and tools; partner to learn their challenges (not just tech); provide them with expertise, not just support;

Perceived value – “they’re watching!”
actual value – 99.999%; access to tools and software; discounts and cost savings; enabling student-provided devices;
Competitors: hacker mentality; perceptions that IT is behind the times; edge-user behavior
Differentiators: savings – time and money; transparent efforts to understand usage needs/differentiators;
Don’t assume – ask. Leverage benefits they care about. Create evangelists

Start expressing your value
– get to know one faculty member, one staff member, follow a faculty member on twitter
– act like a marketer: pay attention to conversations, take notes of trends and perceptions.

This month:
– ask for volunteers to become disciplinary experts and department partners.
– create focus groups or listening posts for student sentiment.

This semester/year:
– start teaching basic business acumen to all IT staff.
– brag about the value of IT’s contributions to all audiences


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