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Why enterprise CIOs need to go social

When looking at the evolution of the CIO role within the enterprise, you need to consider what drives the scope of responsibilities and skills required to manage the environment, the experience necessary to drive innovation, and the competencies required to support the needs of the business in correlation to the technologies. When you examine the evolution of technology, you will see that every decade has brought about a major shift that has profoundly impacted the business in one way or another.

Bringing social media to the enterprise is akin to the technology integration problems of the past.

It began with the mainframe, which enabled organizations to process massive amount of data; then personal computers, to help distribute and empower end users; then the Internet, which enabled global connectivity and commerce; and now we are in the midst of the next evolution: social media.
Having served in the workforce for the latter part of the PC era and as a relatively successful executive during the Internet era, I understand the need for organizations to draw upon innovation to drive growth, product enhancement, and competitive differentiation. As the industry moves to better understand and utilize social media, I also want to prepare myself from a thought leadership and competency perspective in this domain. It is critical for technology leaders like my peer CIOs to get involved in better understanding the value proposition social media can have for their respective organization.
It is clear to me that social media will have a continued impact on how organizations interact with their stakeholders, both internally and externally, when you consider the consumerization of IT and the expectations of the millennial generation. The interconnected individual has clear expectations around enablement and access to social media platforms. Organizations that block access to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ will be challenged with attrition.
It’s not just about preventing fires, however, because social also has the opportunity to contribute to Growth and Retention, Risk and Compliance, Efficiency and Expense Control, and Claims Indemnity Control of an organization’s external customers. A recent Celent Report, “Emerging Insurance Technologies – General (P&C) Insurance Industry Edition 2011,” published in December 2011, indicates that social media affects each one of the quadrants mentioned. If organizations do not get social, they will be at a competitive disadvantage on multiple dimensions.
The time for CIOs to engage in social media is now.
As I am a realist, I must admit that I have come across peers who are reluctant to engage in social media. Though they might already have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+ accounts, they might not see how social media can benefit their organization. Or maybe they feel there are too many unknowns and that, if the organization was to adopt social media, they would be putting the organization at risk from a data and security perspective.
But that doesn’t have to be the end.
To successfully engage social media, CIOs needs to recognize what they don’t know about the new technology. With that recognition, CIOs can start a dialogue with experts in this space and learn as much from them as possible. Once they’ve attained this knowledge, CIOs should engage with the business sponsors (CMO, Compliance, Sales, etc.) to establish a strategy around how to adopt social media. The role of the CIO is to help educate the business sponsor, drive enablement, and ultimately deliver innovation.
I know I will be ready to enable my organization – will you be?


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