By: Dan O’Donnell
Remember Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian whose signature line was “I don’t get no respect.” Those with jobs in IT, Cyber Security, Networking and the like know the feeling. When things go right (which takes a lot of dedication, specialized knowledge and hard work) nobody notices. When things go wrong (which can happen no matter how hard you work to keep things humming) the entire company is screaming like a banshee on steroids. Suddenly, everyone knows your name.
Sales guys get noticed when they sell things. They get trips to Tahiti, awards and a lot of positive recognition. Marketing develops programs and ads that are creative and widely publicized. Engineering develops cool designs that turn into products everyone can see. Even the guys from Finance are always making charts and presentations to the CEO showing their ROI calculations and how to finance new projects.
How can IT and Networking demonstrate their positive contributions to the organization? The key is to look at your job in a new way. Categorize, quantify and report on your contributions. Network Security, for example, keeps bad things from happening that could ruin a company. Theft of confidential customer information, leakage of classified product designs, external hacks that slow or block system access are a few examples of bad things that the Network Security group helps prevent. When things go right these issues do not exist so it is hard to quantify the contributions. However, there are industry reports that track these trends that can be used to set baselines.
Using the Network Security example, a department head can develop a set of indices setting Key Performance Indicators based on industry norms for a variety of network and security metrics. Then correlate the economic impact of meeting and exceeding these metrics. What you will have is a report that shows the ongoing financial benefit that sound security practices and procedures can bring to the company every day. Remember, money not spent, is profit.
The idea here is to quantify and report on the positive contributions that are made every day. Take the technical jargon out of the reports. Resist the urge to discuss the benefits of dual stack routers for IPv6 conversion (save that for departmental meetings). The CEO is less interested in how you do it but keenly interested in the contribution to the bottom line. The CEO is a business person and his/her interest is shareholder return. Show that your ideas are necessary to protect the company brand, to create revenue, or to reduce risk and liability.
Finally, be proactive with these ideas. Develop your business oriented reports and ask for time to present. In 2012, resolve to take a quarterly trip in the elevator to the top floor. Show your value to the company. Perhaps, you too, will be on a plane to Tahiti with the Sales leaders.