Internal or external, IT customers come first

Internal or external, IT customers come first

BMC CIO Scott Crowder explains how he has adapted his thinking on customers with a capital "C"

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[Editor's note: As part of our ongoing series in which IT leaders share the best advice they've ever been given, Scott Crowder, CIO of BMC Software explains how a lesson he heard in the 90s impacts how he treats customers today.]

The best advice I ever received (though I’ve adapted it over the years) was “the two Cs.” Your external customers are big Cs and your internal customers are little Cs. It’s a reminder to stay myopically focused on your customers. The ones who pay your bills are important, of course; but your internal folks are customers too, and you need to keep them happy.

These days, with IT playing such a critical role inside businesses, I’ve adapted it to treat all my customers as big Cs. You have to treat your employees as first class citizens, but you also have to keep your external customers top of mind.

The advice originally came from my former boss at Sprint in the mid-90s, Don Hallacy. He is a major reason I have gotten to where I am. He empowered me at Sprint and was an important mentor for me earlier in my career.

At the time I first heard the advice, it resonated because I hadn’t thought about the different stakeholders we serve in that way. The reason it’s stuck with me over the years is that IT now plays such a vital role, not just in understanding the customer and providing them with excellent service, but in empowering employees to do the best work possible using new technologies like AI and cloud-native. Everybody has to be a big C. Now, our internal IT organization acts as customer zero, allowing us to test all our software before it goes out to customers.

Putting the advice into practice

We aim to provide excellent levels of service to all our stakeholders. For customers, that means making sure we’re always responsive and easy to communicate with no matter which channel or what time of day. For employees, we try to provide them with the latest tools and technologies to help them do the best work they can.

For example, at BMC we’ve moved 85 percent of our business systems to the cloud, allowing our employees to work from anywhere in the world. This cloud migration also helped us provide for our employees during and after Hurricane Harvey, giving them all they needed to work remotely without business interruption.

[ Want to learn about leading truly collaborative teams? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation, by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. ]

Scott Crowder is chief information officer for BMC Software, Inc. He is responsible for IT, which provides business applications, end user support, production and R&D cloud infrastructure, unified communications, information security and service governance. Scott has 30+ years of experience in product development, service delivery and assurance for information technology organizations.

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