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If You Want the CFO’s Attention, You’ll Need a Good Story

by Vivek Swaminathan  |  June 8, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

contributed by Cameron Gilbert, Gartner for Midsize Enterprises

Identifying the metrics most relevant to the business value of IT can be difficult. CIOs convey performance to non-technical audiences through a mixture of scorecards and presentations, but often leave out something critical — a story. Charts and graphs that don’t have a story tying them together can leave business partners bored and confused.

Although each midsize enterprise IT leader insists their value proposition is unlike any other, when you hear many such presentations, patterns begin to emerge. If you strip away the industry jargon and organization-specific buzzwords, you’re left with about a dozen stories. By focusing on the story first, CIOs can also tailor messages and data to specific audiences:
  • CFOs can see how IT saves money.
  • Business partners can see how technology improves the customer experience.
  • The head of HR can see how IT improves productivity and the employee experience.
After you sort through those stories and narrow in on your own particular value story, it is important to back that information up with data. Supporting data makes the IT contribution real. Stakeholders are less interested in comprehensive detail. They want to see why IT matters to them, and in the simplest way possible. Good visualization and a concise set of data points should emphasize what stakeholders care about most. 
The IT Performance Dashboard Builder creates real-time charts and a customized presentation deck based on the user’s selected stories (see Figure 1). The tool prompts the user with specific metrics and instantly benchmarks results against midsize enterprise peers. When the right data and benchmarks are aligned to the most relevant story, IT leaders are better equipped to influence decision-makers to support IT.
Figure 1: IT Performance Dashboard Builder

A sample output from the IT Performance Dashboard Builder.
The dashboard builder helps provide CIOs with greater influence on their partners’ decisions by convincing them that the IT performance story matters.  See which story best describes your IT organizaiton and build the dashboard to support it.  Access additional midsize enterprise guidance on or tap into our community of Midsize Enterprise Executive Partners to develop your IT organization.  Can’t access links?  Talk to us about becoming a client.

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Vivek Swaminathan
VP, Team Manager, Midsize Enterprise
9 years at Gartner

Vivek Swaminathan is a Vice President of Peer and Practitioner Research for Midsized Enterprises at Gartner. His team supports a peer network of CIOs at midsized companies with tools, benchmarks and case studies designed to empower small IT teams to do big things. Critically, teams that face similar challenges as larger companies need innovative and actionable solutions to deliver the same results with fewer people. Read Full Bio

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