Time is Running Out for the CIO to Lead on Social Media

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Setting my clocks back this weekend for Daylight Savings Time got me thinking about how some CIOs are at risk of getting left behind on social media. The current situation reminds me of what transpired at the dawn of e-Commerce back in the mid-90s.

CIOs were dragging their feet on e-Commerce rollouts so the sales and product teams took matters into their own hands. They hired outsiders and cut CIOs out of projects. Separate e-Commerce divisions were spawned as a result. The function didn’t return in-house until years later.

In the age of social media, history stands to repeat itself. Except this time it’s CMOs who are growing increasingly impatient at the slow pace of IT rollouts. The good news is that CIOs have an opportunity to catch up as CMOs move out of their experimental phase and into an era of social media governance.

CIOs can Lead in the Second Stage of Social Media

In the rush of social media when it was brand new, many CMOs took to the networks without first setting up comprehensive listening tools or establishing internal collaboration systems to coordinate strategic external outreach among employees. Now, as social media moves from infancy into adolescence, CMOs are looking to put more structure in place. CIOs happen to excel in this area.

This next phase of social media where corporate governance will be more important puts CIOs in a better to position to lead. They can begin by using the social media policy to regroup with marketing and regain some control over related strategy and tactics.

Using the Social Media Policy to Sync with CMOs

Part of the reason why CIOs and CMOs aren’t marching in lockstep on the social media front is confusion of who does what and why. Developing the company’s social media policy is a great place for CIOs and CMOs to come together on the same page and to assign roles and responsibilities.

First of all, communications/marketing writes the policy that dictates what employees can or can’t say over social networks, so they enforce it. In other words, CIOs shouldn’t find themselves playing social media cop.

However, CMOs can’t effectively enforce the social media policy without IT tools to collect and mine the data. (see Jeff Auker’s commentary on social media monitoring and analysis) CIOs can also deploy internal collaboration tools such as Jive, Basecamp, Steamworks or Salesforce so employees, marketing and IT can have dedicated channels to communicate about social media activity and to coordinate outreach campaigns. How employees communicate with marketing and IT about social media should be explained in the policy and its companion operating model.

The clock is ticking and time is running out for CIOs to lead on social media. However, a new focus on corporate governance is providing CIOs an opportunity to catch up. The question is will they take it.

Image shared by Paul Cosgrove.

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  • Christoper B Curran

    (From LinkedIn Discussion) Comment left by Steve Dickman, Independent CPA: I think it is
    inevitable that social media will replace the functionality of most
    enterprise systems and that the CIO’s role will continue to diminish in
    importance. With the advent of PCs, we saw the jobs of entire classes
    of workers evaporate. Desktops and mainframes will eventually give way
    to the handheld, be it a phone or a tablet, and the CIOs job will be
    relegated to what it was in the beginning–accounting systems. As to
    “the cloud,” I don’t know.

  • Christopher B Curran

    (Comment from LinkedIn Discussion) Ted Shelton, Managing Director at PwC: I actually think that
    the role for a CIO will shift rather than diminish — that the CIO will
    care less about IT operations and more about how to match business
    needs with It solutions. There is a growing requirement for IT in
    business — business continuity issues, data security requirements, and
    imaginative new uses of technology to support business processes. But
    the CIO (and staff) will increasingly need to see itself as enablers, a
    kind of “business solutions broker,” to remain relevant at the C level.

  • Christopher B Curran

    (Comment made on LinkedIn Discussion Group) by Pearl Zhu, President of Brobay Corporation:

    Hi, Chris, as usual, enjoy your blog, I think you
    initiate very timely discussion, also consistent with the same theme of
    MIT CIO Symposium earleir this year: CIO and CMO could become the
    similar-minded friends, to establish the enterprise social platform,
    engage more open conversation with employees, customers and partners,
    CMO may “sing” to the customers, and CIO can play some classic music to
    empower the conversation, also control the rhyme with the right GRC
    discipline. The key point is to delight customers and empower employees
    by taking advantage of the latest technology trends such as
    cloud/social/mobile/consumerrization of IT. thanks

  • Comment left on LinkedIn Discussion from Pearl Zhu (President BroBay Corporation): Hi, Chris, as usual,
    enjoy your blog, I think you initiate very timely discussion, also
    consistent with the same theme of MIT CIO Symposium earleir this year:
    CIO and CMO could become the similar-minded friends, to establish the
    enterprise social platform, engage more open conversation with
    employees, customers and partners, CMO may “sing” to the customers, and
    CIO can play some classic music to empower the conversation, also
    control the rhyme with the right GRC discipline. The key point is to
    delight customers and empower employees by taking advantage of the
    latest technology trends such as cloud/social/mobile/consumerrization of
    IT. thanks.

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