Social Media and the CIO: Five Key Recommendations

Pity the poor CIO, trying your best to get your arms around threatening social media concerns such as data security and confidentiality as this new reality impinges upon enterprise technologies. Even as you're trying to bar the doors, you're being pushed by stakeholders from across your organization to create a social enterprise.

All of this means that today's CIO must embrace social media. To do so requires some practical adaptations. Here are five key recommendations for CIOs as you think about the Social Enterprise:

  1. Make social media an asset, not something to fight. The very qualities that have the potential to make social media a distraction for workers can also create advantages for your organization. Do make this a reality, you have to take ownership and work with your colleagues to discover the areas in your organization where social media can enhance your brand, your processes, your customer service, and your internal and external communications.

  2. Create and distribute a social media policy. The issues the policy should address include confidentiality, privacy, communications standards for engagement, personal versus business engagement, harassment, and other areas specific to the organization. Will violations happen? Certainly. But having a policy in place protects your employees, and your organization, by establishing the standards you expect everyone to meet.

  3. At the department level, ask employees to brainstorm ideas on how social media can enhance their work, business processes, and your company's brand in general. Your employees already are social media experts and good things will emerge. Trust them.

  4. Investigate technologies that will integrate social media with your business processes, including CRM, to create synergies across the board.

  5. Give your people the tools they need to be productive using social media. Make smartphones and iPads or other tablets an integral part of your business environment, and educate employees about privacy issues. You might be surprised that they are more sensitive about your company's data security and confidentiality concerns because they have already dealt with such challenges in their own lives.

None of this diminishes the expectation that CIOs must continue to keep business humming 24/7, secure the data that's central to the company's charter, and provide the highest level of IT service to the staff. Yet, this is an opportunity for a CIO to be more than the keeper of technology and, instead, become a strategic player within your organization. With this additional responsibility comes opportunity. The key is to be the gas pedal, and not the brake.

About the Author

Vasudev Murthy is Practice Partner, Functional Consulting, and head of the Social Media Practice for Wipro Consulting Services. He is based in Bangalore, India, and can be reached at vasudev.murthys@wipro.com.

This article was originally published on 02-26-2012
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