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Why you need a social CIO

“With the experience our employees have as consumers, I believe it is important for me as CIO to understand the experiences they are enjoying and how to bring those same experiences into the workplace in a ‘fit for business’ way.” — Jeanette Horan, Chief Information Officer of IBM

LinkedIn is now a publicly traded company, and the professional social network is accessed by 150 million people every month. Facebook, which is going public very soon, is accessed by a mind-blowing 901 million people every month. Other social networks, like Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram, are likewise seeing record engagement rates as consumers continue to crave a social experience with everything they do online.
These statistics are startling because they illustrate the “consumerization of IT,” or an increasing tendency for new technologies to first be adopted by mainstream consumers before businesses. If organizations today want to keep up, they must look to the behaviors of their very employees for insight into which technologies can help them build a better business.
Forbes recently published an article discussing the new era of the social business, which must be led by a “Social CIO” that understands the importance of social media and social networking to their organization. Their perspective falls much in line with our own:

For CIOs, managing is about understanding an organization’s people, information and technologies. Their task is to make people capable of exceptional performance, to enable teams to collaborate and to prepare an organization to be more effective. This is what the true role of the CIO is all about, and it is the reason that she is critical to building a social business.
To understand that LinkedIn is important for networking and identifying subject matter experts; to see that Twitter can be used to communicate ideas to a broad audience; to grasp that Facebook is a valuable tool for connecting friends and family through shared interests; to appreciate that Google+ represents a new break-through in long form communication and collaboration are all important to understand when designing the information flow and technologies for the social enterprise.

It’s a challenge, but every organization will need to rethink themselves as a social business. From hiring to marketing to sales, everyone at your organization is a brand ambassador, and it’s up to the CIO to put the infrastructure in place to make that happen.
Looking for a good role model? Here’s a graphic highlighting the top 25 Social CIOs in the Fortune 250, as identified by harmon.ie:

Curious to learn more about the new role of the Social CIO? Check out some of these posts:

CIOs must face these facts to go social

This piece, penned by Hearsay Social CIO in Residence Jim Lee, was originally posted on Internet Evolution. With experience as CIO at Marsh & McLennan and other Fortune 500 companies, Jim speaks with authority to a couple obstacles that today’s CIO must address in going social:

It’s a harsh truth: Most enterprise CIOs do not know how social media can benefit their organizations. One significant factor is the pressure placed on CIOs to keep the shop running and ensure the IT agenda is aligned with business objectives. IT needs to deliver on the priorities of the business, and if the business does not see or understand the benefits of social media, such initiatives are unlikely to get funded.
However, that should not prevent the CIO from developing the foundational knowledge not only for him/herself, but, more importantly, to help educate the business constituents on how social media can bring immense value to the organization.
CIOs who recognize the importance of innovation, of helping organizations think outside the box, and of ensuring competitive position through the use of technology need to bring innovation to the organization — particularly now. It is essential for IT leadership to collaborate with business stakeholders to leverage social media as a competitive advantage.
Social media are part of the technology evolution that began with the mainframe (which let organizations process massive amount of data) and moved to personal computers (to help distribute and empower end users) and then to the Internet (which enabled global connectivity and commerce).
Simply having a presence on Twitter or a business page on Facebook does not qualify as innovation with social media. I see those actions as table stakes and fundamental for any organization entering the social media arena.
In addition to essentially developing a social media strategy with the business, CIOs need to prepare their organizations for the implementation of a social media solution. This is where major challenges will emerge for the IT organization. Most social media platforms are cloud-based (SaaS), which raises a number of issues about data security and operational readiness.
For instance, here are two main issues CIOs will need to address in implementing cloud-based social software:

  • Data security: The consistent challenge being posed by chief information security officers is that data in the cloud is not secure, and the organization cannot afford the risks of data being compromised. All aspects of applications, data, infrastructure, provisioning, and the like need to be 100 percent locked down, and a rigorous process must be developed for any “exceptions.” It is incumbent on the SaaS provider to work with the client to ensure the concerns are addressed through a thorough review of the infrastructure, including security guidelines and protocols that have been implemented to protect the client’s information.
  • Operational readiness: Both the SaaS service provider and the client must develop a framework to accommodate the nuances of how solutions are deployed within each environment. You have one extreme where solutions are developed and deployed using waterfall development methodologies (a traditional enterprise approach driven by tollgates, milestones, etc.) and another extreme where solutions are developed and deployed on a daily basis. The paradigms do not mix well, and it is essential for the enterprise to be able to work with the SaaS provider on a plan for integration.

The call to action is for CIOs: Get educated on the social media domain, partner with business stakeholders on the development of a social media strategy, and work within the IT organization to ensure it is operationally ready for any level of integration with SaaS providers.