5 ways CIOs can prove their social business mettle

by Sohini Bagchi    Aug 09, 2013

social cio

Social media in the enterprise is not just confined to marketing today. It is not only used to entice and engage customers, in the increasingly digitalized business scenario, it is used to analyze customer behavior and more importantly improve the effectiveness of core business disciplines. Experts believe social – is both a technology and a business enabler today so it fits into the category of “IT consumerization.” Therefore even though it’s procured and evaluated outside the purview of IT by the CMO, CFO and CEO, the CIO should have an equal share of the social pie - in terms of discussion, piloting, control and evaluation. It is equally important that he is proactive and proves his social business acumen.

Here are some ways the CIO can prove his social business mettle in the enterprise.

#1. Work with the business side

Social media isn’t really a technology in itself. It is a model that can be used in a variety of ways to boost existing business processes. It is therefore important to closely work with other CXOs especially the CMO and the CFO to understand the business objectives behind using social media. “With Cloud, social media, mobile and other emerging technologies taking the center stage, it is imperative for marketing and IT to work in sync. Fact is, the CIO can no longer operate on separate stages. Just like marketing or any other department will understand the technical aspects of social media – its integration, platforms and other applications, CIOs have the opportunity to help drive business results through innovation and efficiency. Success will come when the enterprises build a C-suite power team to drive social media initiatives,” says Hari Nair, CEO and Founder, HolidayIQ.com.

#2. Don’t ignore the technology aspect

Of course social is not a technology in itself but it cannot ignore IT. It’s very much a part of the IT infrastructure. Here the CIOs role is decisive where he has to archive and maintain all the (unstructured) data that is produced in the social process by using a server for an internally hosted blog.

“Companies are increasingly realizing that the future of social media is big data driven and smart brands should leverage social media data into actionable insights to better support PR and marketing efforts as well as customer services,” says Sujay Dangi, Chief of Technical Services, Titan Eye Plus. Being active in social media has made us analyze audience reactions and preferences for future improvement of our business. The company has also integrated social service with mobile. “We have used social and mobile technologies for our Titan Loyalty Program both for promotional purpose as well as to monitor customer satisfaction through social and mobile CRM, he mentions.

#3. Express yourself

Social media in the enterprise may also drive innovation. This often happens when executives share ideas and communicate with social groups. It’s not only marketing’s task to post and generate ideas. Experts believe quality content often acts as the fuel that strokes social fires.

“IT executives and CIOs should produce content to promote the technologies, trends and its usage in the company, contribute article to leading media and express themselves in social sites more often,” says Samit Ray, Director and CIO, PwC. He believes when CIOs express themselves proactively, like several other C-suites, it automatically increases the company’s social business credentials.

#4. Define metrics of success

 IT leaders can play a huge role in helping the business define KPIs and success metrics for social enterprise platforms. Social should not be an end in itself, many point out but must derive business value such as reducing cost of training, increased sales and customer support and drive the ROI.

Ray believes with clearer business objectives and knowing where your customers are, you to measure and manage your metric results easily.

#5. Keep learning!

Finally, there’s nothing as enterprising as learning, gaining the knowledge and sharing it with the team.  The best place to start is to become an active social media user yourself and connect with other CIOs and CXOs who are activately on the platform through posting, groups and other discussion. CIOs can start learning from them as well as by using the tutorials and tools available.

As TJ Keitt, an analyst at Forrester Research points out in his blog: “The proactive CIO would identify the right social media tool for the job and pursue implementation because he thinks that’s the way the world is going to move. It’s he who can take the initiative and make sure that’s possible in the organization.”