Is social media the next area for CIO innovation?
Gartner’s survey of more than 2300 CIOs worldwide found that social media was a low priority (11th) for the majority of CIOs interviewed, while harmon.ie’s survey found that only 10 percent of CIOs in the Fortune 250 and Global 250 lists actually use public social networks themselves.
Both these surveys highlight a feeling amongst the majority of CIOs questioned that social media is not something they need worry about other than as a gate-keeper.
Some commentators have concluded that ignoring social media is a poor leadership decision on the part of CIOs. While it may not be a CIO’s main priority to blog and tweet personally, those that are tasked with leading companies in their IT spend and investment in social media should at least be familiar with social media and how to use it.
Others point out that just as many CIOs dragged their feet on e-commerce during the mid-1990s resulting in the sales and product teams setting up their own e-commerce divisions, so history is repeating itself today with CIOs again dragging their feet – this time around social media. As such CIOs are allowing the CMOs to take the lead in defining how social media technology is to be rolled out within the organisation.
So are CIOs acting as a block by not putting social enterprise at the forefront of IT roadmaps? And what should be the role of the CIO in social media today?
The traditional role of the CIO, rightly or wrongly, has been to focus on the infrastructure and the internal operations within the organisation. Now the expectation is that they should be applying innovative solutions to relevant business problems and leading the adoption of new social technologies.
Social media is creating the opportunity to engage and build loyalty within the customer base. The social web and mobile technologies have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop, information is shared and influence takes hold. The companies that will be successful in the future recognise the need to fundamentally change the way they engage with their customers.
As the Gartner survey rightly points out, technology will be at the centre of the next revolution in media and communications. Greater customer interaction will spur business and help companies attract new customers while managing closer relationships with existing ones. CIOs have a choice – they can either remain focused on traditional IT or they can engage new technologies to amplify the organisation externally and internally.
It is clear that technology's role in the social enterprise space is growing. The rise of personal mobile devices, social media, analytics and other technologies is dramatically increasing productivity and ways to reach the market. Improving the customer experience is a huge opportunity for IT innovation. The role of the CIO is to enable the organisation to take full advantage of these trends.
Many organisations are actively looking for ways to extract value out of the increased diversification of data they now receive via their interactions with customers. CIOs need to find ways to leverage this ‘big data’ to improve collaboration and drive adoption and value across the social enterprise. And they need to own the processes that govern how raw external and internal data is treated and ensure social media systems are integrated effectively with back end systems.
A number of organisations are beginning to integrate big data with social media. For example, Ramon Baez, CIO of global manufacturer Kimberly-Clark, says he uses big data software to predict consumer demand and gain insight into his customer base, whereas social media allows the company to better understand customer opinion on their brands. Baez says the two can become a powerful, merged identity, saying that it would “not only help us become more effective and efficient, it will enable us to drive the top-line with our key customers.”
Organisations need to improve customer service and develop multichannel strategies. At the same time they need to be clear on their goals and be better at monitoring, listening and measuring ROI against these goals. CIOs who can help gain value and insights from this data will give their organisation a real advantage over the competition.
According to the PwC’s fourth annual Digital IQ survey, top performing organisations are showing a greater mastery in how they leverage digital technologies by offering mobile tools for customers, measuring data through social media, mobilising applications to the public cloud and through the innovative use of business intelligence.
PwC defines a company’s Digital IQ as a measure of how well companies understand the value of technology and weave it into the fabric of their organisation. “Raising a firm’s Digital IQ means improving the way it leverages digital technologies and channels to meet customer needs,” said John Sviokla, principal at PwC. “The core of the ecosystem for innovation has moved from inside the firm to out in the marketplace. Customer and employee expectations are being shaped by this new, dynamic and exciting environment — if you miss this trend you will be increasingly irrelevant to the market.”
CIOs should take the lead in embedding social media into all parts of the organisation. Those leaders who harness technology as a way to open new markets and reach customers will be able to drive real business value for their organisation. CIOs have a great opportunity to shape the future of their organisations – if they choose to take it.
Theresa Clifford, is director of customer engagement at digital agency, Cucumber.
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