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Are CIO’s ready for social media?
27 November 2014

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Social Media – Are You Ready?

If the CIO is not ready now for social media there will be “Truble at’ mill”, to quote Monty Python.

The current trend appears to be social media being the domain of the marketing department in any organisation and to a certain extent this is understandable.  Social media in a business context is all about the customer and getting the corporate message out and about.  The strategy then should be developed by marketing.  But not in isolation.

While the actual use of social media is good in the hands of sales and marketing, policy should be determined at a senior corporate level and it should be the IT group who is responsible for ensuring the organisation’s social media platforms work and are monitored and integrated with ‘what’s going on in the organisation’ – according to a Perth CIO Summit held this year.

The deployment of necessary tools to deal with social media should be with IT.  Where BYOD is a big factor the rules for their use in a corporate context should be established by IT.

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Firstly, in order to work with social media, the CIO must know and understand the various platforms and ideally be actively using them.

Forbes also lists “Four Reasons Why CIOs Need Social Media” –

No. 1: Finding the right staff.  Using LinkedIn where you can search for technologies, companies and skills to find prospects and identify previous employers, and find former co-workers for back-channel recommendations.

No. 2: Tapping into internal communications.  Use tools such as Yammer or Chatter as a suggestion box. These collaboration tools let you create impromptu groups or enterprise-wise chat rooms to post questions (i.e., what’s the one thing IT can do better?).

No. 3: Getting smarter.  The same tools can be used internally to improve insight among your IT staff.

No. 4: Learning about product issues.  Setting up social networking capabilities for other departments can help IT’s relationships with those departments.

A study conducted by harmon.ie in 2012 of the Fortune 250/Global 250 showed only 10 percent of the CIOs had “social credentials demonstrating they understand what it takes to drive business transformation by using social tools to help flatten hierarchies, speed up business processes, and boost efficiency and agility through collaboration”.  The formula used took into account criteria such as the strength of each CIO’s LinkedIn network, re-tweet frequency, socialmention.com scores, blog reach, citations by other influential bloggers, and Google+ influence.

According to Oliver Bussmann (Ex SAP CIO and now Group CIO of UBS) “Since IT has always been hard to understand and follow, using social technologies makes it easier to communicate with the IT organisation and the rest of the company.  As the CIO, you have to understand how social media can keep everyone in touch,”

He adds “Exploring the social platform at a personal level the CIO can get a good inside out peek which outside in cannot afford”.

With increasing social media interaction which is also an ever increasing digital environment, Big Data is an issue and ideally it is the CIO and team who should take the lead which will put them at the forefront of the social sphere.

IT Cannot Be Only the CIO’s Responsibility
13 November 2014

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IT – A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

Suite – a series of items intended to be used together;  a number of connected rooms in a hotel forming one living unit;  a matching set of furniture,  a number of attendants or followers.  Get the picture, a suite is made up of more than one.  The C-Suite, more than one person, a team, a shared responsibility.

All too often, possibly as it is seen as too hard, IT is left in the hands of the CIO.  They are given a budget, staff and responsibility and as long as the computing environment delivers functionality on time and within budget that is it.

This is not a recipe for success, business units can no longer work in isolation.  Knowledge must be shared.  The vision, the mission and goals of an organisation are developed with the whole organisation in mind and must be regularly reinforced across the board.

In addition to the CIO having responsibility for all the technology, they should also be involved in ensuring the effective use of the technology and assessing the benefits or liabilities associated with the technology being used.  This then involves the business unit(s) using the technology deployed.

Take a CRM, for example, this software is often much maligned and underutilised, seen as too hard or a waste of time.  It has been deployed on time and to the users who would most benefit but unless the training has been effective and the sales and client service teams are using it properly, the data or lack of it will not provide appropriate or useful information to increase the bottom line.  It will be seen as a failure.  This is where the team leaders must ensure appropriate training is done, work practices are modified to include use of the CRM and the data being entered is not rubbish, we all know “rubbish in means rubbish out”.

In the same way the CIO is now having to focus on adding value and driving efficiency through the use of technology, their C-suite colleagues’ need to evaluate what applications and infrastructure are best suited to their team’s achieving their goals.  Is a move to Cloud Computing a solution to an increasingly mobile workforce?  What policies are needed to properly manage BYOD?

The CEO needs to make it possible for the CIO and IT to deliver services which result in revenue and enable them to support the transformation of the business for the future such as moving to Cloud Computing.

A Harvard Business Review article “Why IT Fumbles Analytics” talks about traditional IT projects which improve efficiency, lower costs, and increase productivity, but executives are still dissatisfied.  The reason – once the system goes live, no one pays any attention to figuring out how to use the information it generates to make better decisions or gain deeper—and perhaps unanticipated—insights into key aspects of the business.

So the organisation needs to prioritize its IT spending, run programs and projects, manage the IT investment, facilitate organisational change to deliver expected business benefits, and importantly, make sense of information.

Donald A. Marchand and Joe Peppard in their HBR article suggest what is needed is strong governance of IT.  “Be clear about the decisions concerning IT that need to be made, who gets to make them, how they are made, and the supporting management processes, structures, information, and tools needed to ensure that they are effectively implemented, complied with, and are achieving the desired levels of performance.

They conclude “executives need to get their hands dirty and actively engage with their CIO and IT.  Decisions about IT today really have little to do with technology!”

Are We Asking Too Much Of Our CIOs?
6 November 2014

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Chiefly Impossible Officer?

Why is it CEOs are not asked to be on top of all things technology or the head of marketing expected to be a technology guru, yet the CIO is now expected to still be current with all technology issues, understand all the business drivers and business development?

It is understandable the CIO should know the business mission and values and be able to align technology to sustain the mission and values and achieve business goals, as the time is long gone when IT could be run in splendid isolation.  The CIO should also be an integral part of the C-Suite to ensure an effective contribution to high level decision making.

But the role of CIO should not be stretched too thin as even within the IT environment, there are many more issues to consider in addition to core business systems such as big data, cloud computing, mobile technology and data security, not to mention BYOD.

Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group outlines four personas of the next generation CIO:

  1. Chief “Infrastructure” Officer: “Keeping the lights on” and managing existing systems
  2. Chief “Integration” Officer: Bringing together internal and external data and systems
  3. Chief “Intelligence” Officer: Fostering business intelligence and getting the right data to the right people
  4. Chief “Innovation” Officer: Looking for disruptive technologies to drive innovation

All feasible, reasonable and within a manageable scope.

Managing the infrastructure and integration of systems to produce the necessary business intelligence and fostering innovation are all core IT functions but are also core to the efficiency and success of any business.  They should therefore be closely aligned to the business goals and that is the role of the CIO.

A truly effective CIO needs focus and vision, the ability to see the big picture in order to integrate all the components and the ability to communicate the IT role across the business to all other business units.

All too often IT is blamed when required data is not available, enabling staff across the business units to access and manipulate data as required, creates a much more flexible and educated workforce.  The business needs to support the CIO in establishing this kind of culture.

Finding individuals with IT expertise and business skills or vice versa is not that easy.  Finding individuals who have expertise in narrower fields who can communicate and integrate with other business unit leaders is more realistic.

CIOs should always be concerned with aligning IT to business.  A suitable structure and strategy is needed from the bottom of the organisation right to the top with solid support at the top.

The CIO needs to successfully engage IT functions to support key delivery to the various business units and with the rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) there are improved business processes. It has also consolidated the provision of an organisation’s products and services making today’s market a lot more powerful and productive.

Ray Wang concludes “the office and activities of the CIO need to be in tune with the needs of the organization.  This is more than a shuffling of responsibilities.  Work towards a meaningful redesign that will carry you through the decade.