You might think IT execs would be trailblazers when it comes to social media platforms and the business potential of online social networks. But, that’s just not the case, according to a new study of Chief Information Officers conducted by harmon.ie, a company that specializes in cross-platform solutions for businesses.
Overall, the Fortune 250 and Global 250 CIOs in this survey scored surprisingly low when asked about their own social media use. Although in positions charged with shaping and driving the technological goals of their corporations –including decisions on social media use for employee and customer communication, education and collaboration –nine out of 10 failed to demonstrate personal familiarity with existing social media platforms and their potential.
For example, two-thirds of the CIOs in this study either don’t have a LinkedIn account, or have one with fewer than a hundred connections. If their IT leaders aren’t familiar with the territory, it is any wonder so many companies lag behind in developing social media strategies for their marketing and business communications, or social media policies for their customers, vendors and employees?
Not every CIOs fared poorly, however.
The study also acknowledged the 25 most social CIOs –those who demonstrated the greatest hands-on experience with various social media tools and their strategic business use. Ranking them with a formula that combined data from Alexa, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and SocialMention.com, CIOs from the following companies (some of which will come as no surprise) topped the list of social media stand outs:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Jacobs Engineering Group
- Omnicom Group
Other companies whose CIOs made the top 25 included Office Depot, Xerox, DISH Network, Costco and Avon.
What differentiated these 25 from the rest of the CIO pack? It wasn’t that these IT execs threw themselves headlong into every social media innovation to come down the pike; rather, the social CIOs utilized only a few of the available platforms, integrating them in targeted and effective ways in order to support corporate initiatives—and then they communicated what they’ve learned and accomplished through public social media channels. Among the examples harmon.ie shared:
- SAP’s CIO Oliver Bussmann helped develop an IT network that employees could access via devices most suited to their job functions, including smartphones and tablets. He also engages on Twitter and the company’s global IT blog.
- William Shurts, CIO at Supervalu (known for his motto “Business, fast and simple”), Tweets, and he is a featured commentator and regular contributor to a blog devoted to CIOs that drive transformation.
- CIO Ian Alderton, at the Royal Bank of Scotland, promotes social media use within his organization to boost the bottom line and enhance corporate performance, while also blogging about how the banking industry can solicit customer engagement and increase market penetration through, among other things, strategic use of social media tools.
As Mark Fidelman, Chief Social Strategist at harmon.ie and lead author of the analysis, points out, having a “social” CIO can lead to significant, positive business impacts.
“The consensus among the people who top our list is that CIOs need hands-on experience engaging with customers, vendors and influencers in public social networks in order to have the credibility and know-how to transform the stodgy, silo-e’d business culture into a collaborative environment that is now considered essential to build competitive advantage,” he said. “If CIOs want to put social media to work to get rid of those silos and put their companies on a social track, the first step is to get social themselves.”