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22 September 2021

Creating a mutually beneficial friendship

As internal comms and IT teams are being drawn together through implementing digital transformation projects, how can IC professionals get the best out of this mutually beneficial, and dependent, relationship?

Building a business-supporting and beneficial relationship between internal comms and IT functions works best when both sides are prepared to ask questions and be clear about the outcomes, says Joanna Poplawska, of the CITF (Collaboration Innovation Technology Forum).

Joanna discussed how collaboration between IC and IT can best work in our latest Sequel Presents webinar this month. As CEO of the CITF, the UK’s leading membership organisation for more than 4,500 technology professionals across 26 global industries, she has plenty of experience of working with ‘teccies’.

The CITF offers members learning opportunities around new technology and broader business skills, including communication. This, she says, often comes up in conversation with her members as a particularly challenging area.

She told Sequel MD Suzanne Peck that we must stop talking about communication as a soft skill and see it as a critical one for business. Many people think they’re great communicators and struggle to understand the discipline of internal communication, she said.

IT professionals need comms skills, Joanna and Suzanne agreed. IT can tend to present information in a rational data-driven rather than an engaging way, yet, Joanna said, as humans we need emotions and inspiration too. Other functions can underestimate how difficult it is to communicate clearly.

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Senior IT leaders realise how important good communication is, she said, “When I ask leadership teams in our member organisations what support we should be giving our members the answer is always ‘communication skills’. It is definitely seen as a priority at the top level of the organisation.

“Across our member organisations, if a project fails it’s usually because of poor communication,” she said. She added that winners of the CITF annual awards have in common fantastic collaboration across the business functions and understand the value of communication.

“Communication works two ways and both IT and IC must make the effort to be understood clearly. There should be no story without numbers and no numbers without a story.”

Suzanne asked how IC people can do more to collaborate with IT. Joanna advised asking for explanation of any technical jargon in terms that you can understand. Technologists must ask questions too, so they know what’s expected of them from communicators.

How can IC professionals keep up with the ever-changing landscape of technology?

“Technology becomes more specialised and complex every day and we can’t be experts on everything,” said Joanna. “I always try to understand the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ or the ‘what’. If we understand why, it’s easier to put the bigger picture together.”

Missed it? Click here to request the full recording of Joanna’s Sequel Presents webinar.