Are IT Leaders Also Social Media Leaders?

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“Why can’t we offer our app on the iPhone?” is a question heard more and more in the executive suite.  It’s a great example of consumer demand (or at least perceived demand) for information technology outpacing the capabilities of our enterprises.  I wonder if we are seeing the same thing in social media or if enterprises have done enough research to determine that various social channels are or are not a good fit?

To get a sense for where companies are, we asked a few related questions as part of our 2010 Diamond Digital IQ survey.  The survey asked 592 business and IT leaders for their organization’s perspectives on information technology.  For a few other samples from the survey, check out these posts on whether the CEO cares about IT and the CIO’s role in innovation.  A more comprehensive report will be available shortly.

Two social media questions we asked were:

  1. How would you characterize the level of social media usage for business purposes within your company?
  2. How often do you personally use each of the following types of social media for professional reasons?

To further narrow down the responses, I looked at only the responses of the 288 IT leaders to see if they are leading the charge or following it.

DDIQ Findings

How would you characterize the level of social media usage for business purposes within your company?

How often do you personally use each of the following types of social media for professional reasons?

So Who’s Leading the Social Media Charge?

Just glancing at the chart, the large number of IT leaders to never use Twitter jumps out – 63%.  Compare that to the first question and those who said their companies didn’t use Twitter at all – 43%.  I understand that this isn’t quite apples to apples but it is interesting.  Some of the same people who said they never used Twitter professionally also answered that their enterprise used Twitter to some extent.  As an IT leader, why wouldn’t you want to know what it’s all about, especially if you business constituents are using it?

One of the goals in innovating is knowing what is possible, as so much can be done by bringing light in an organization to what others are doing.  One of my colleagues Larry Gioia showed me an incredible demo of a US Postal Service package sizer using augmented reality.  Just showing a few people demos like this one can create all kinds of new ideas.  Here’s another augmented reality idea for processing insurance claims.

As IT leaders, we can either accept a singular role of optimizing processes (business and IT) or we can embrace the dual roles, both front office and back office, and bring product, service and market ideas to the table too.

While this social media example may seem small, it represents an area that is easily experimented with and that could have huge upside.  At the very least, it can create some great conversations about the important stuff, like customers, feedback, pricing, marketing, etc. </soapbox>

For further reading, check out this article on developing a social media strategy.

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