2012 sei das "Jahr des Zögerns", so das Marktforschungs- und Beratungsunternehmen Gartner in seiner jüngsten CEO-Umfrage. Demnach haben die Unternehmensführer durchaus ein Gespür für neue Informationstechnik, aber es fehlt ihnen an Einsicht in den Business-Nutzen. Demzufolge haben sie vielfach ein antiquiertes Verständnis von der Rolle des CIO. …mehr
Premium-Inhalt. Due to incorrect information provided by a Chinese government agency, the story "HP to build new printer manufacturing facility in China" posted to the wire on April 18, misstated some information about the new manufacturing facility.
Premium-Inhalt. A Russian national has been charged in the U.S. with allegedly hacking into brokerage accounts and executing fraudulent trades, which several brokerage houses claim caused US$1 million in losses.
Premium-Inhalt. The era of cloud hyper-giants, providers so big and so critical to the delivery of information and commerce, is clearly here. But unlike an electric utility, which can give an exact count of customers and power consumed, understanding the true size of a cloud provider hasn't been as easy.
Premium-Inhalt. About two years ago I co-founded the (LGP). LGP is focused on using immersive online games to support learning the skills required to be successful in life. For learning to occur two things need to be present for the learner. Content, there has to be something to learn, and engagement, they have to want to learn. Traditional education does a great job of delivering content but increasingly it struggles to engage the learner. Games are experts at creating engagement and if you can use them to deliver the educational content then you can make significant progress on learning.As I continued to research games I began to realise that games not only have a role to play in learning but can teach us a lot about leadership and how to engage our teams. A highly engaged team is an important enabler of a world class IT organisation as research has established a link between high levels of team engagement and outstanding organisational results.So, how do games engage and how can we use these insights at work?My game genres of choice are massively multi-player online (MMOs) games. Here are some of the mechanics that MMOs use to engage which are relevant to work environments:• Games provide tasks (often called quests) to players based upon their current level of expertise. The tasks they provide are positioned at or just above your current level of competency. At their best the offered tasks are challenging but doable.• Task are always given context. That is players are told how this particular task fits into the overall scheme of the story and why it is important.• The objective of the task and the success measures are clear. Players know precisely they need to achieve / produce.• While guidance is provided, players gets to choose if they complete the task and how the task is done (while the player does get to choose which tasks to complete in reality if you refuse too many task it makes the game tough to play).• Games provide plenty of feedback and recognition to players, providing a real sense of achievement and progress.• If you get stuck in an MMO there is always someone to ask. While help may come from official game information, more often it comes from the player community and player-generated forums and wikis. How can we use these insights? I am not about to advocate turning work into a game (at least not yet) however I do believe implementing these and similar mechanics in the work environment will improve engagement. Here are some things you can and should do:1. When asking your team to do something, always link the task back to the vision so your team understand how what they are doing fits in.2. Be clear on what is expected and what success looks like. As far as practical these success measures should be objective and measurable.3. Ensure that what you are asking the team to do is appropriate for their level of skill and ability. Ideally the task should be a stretch which supports the team members' personal development.4. Your focus should be on the outcomes or results not the method. Let the team members decide how the work should be done.5. Provide access to as many peer and network support mechanisms as practical, so the 'player' can work out for themselves what support they need and when.6. Provide clear and consistent feedback so they know how they are progressing. If they are succeeding, provide recognition. If they are struggling, consider how you can coach and support them.As I look through this list one thing stands out for me: Often as a leader, we focus on managing and controlling work produced by our team. What games teach us is that as a leader, our dominant focus needs to be on designing work and providing clear feedback and recognition rather than management and control. Game designers are so good at designing work that people pay them to be able to do the "work" in the game. Imagine what might be possible if our work-based leaders become as good at work design as game developers.Note: the ideas I have expressed in this column are mine however they have been highly influenced by Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken and I heartily recommend this book to you.
Premium-Inhalt. When you browse the Web, you are constantly being tracked. It's not personal: It's marketing. Website owners and ad networks want to learn as much as they can about you, so they can target their content and ads effectively. After all, there's not much use in showing ads for anti-aging products to a sixteen-year-old. That said, not all users appreciate being tracked so meticulously, and this is where Anonymizer Universal and other VPN applications come in.
Premium-Inhalt. Globalisation is not a recent phenomenon, and yet it is still affecting the majority of organisations in one way or another. Given their unique pan-enterprise view, CIOs are increasingly being asked to drive globalisation initiatives for enterprises.As I write, I have just returned from three weeks of travel that took me to Gartner offices in India, China and the UK, and the challenges of managing across borders and cultures are again top of mind.Traditional notions of "cultural understanding" being a key competence are passé. Today's successful globalisation initiatives have to go much deeper than that.If you think it doesn't affect you because you work for a local, home grown company, think again.Earlier waves of globalisation were characterised by the one-way movement of production of goods or provision of services to lower-cost countries or regions, thus shifting the centre of gravity of these industries to these lower-cost regions. The current wave of globalisation is increasingly characterised not so much by the decline of the West as by the "rise of the rest".For example, while we are seeing emerging countries provide the fastest growing and, in some cases, even the largest markets for global enterprises, we are also seeing the emergence of global brands like Huawei, ZTE, Haier Group, Infosys and Wipro from the emerging countries, which are competing with developed market brands on their own turf and globally, and consistently winning market share.In this evolution, cultural understanding and the ability to bridge cultures, considered the "holy grail" for success in earlier globalisation initiatives, has become a hygiene factor. It is no longer a differentiator in itself, but a minimum requirement.The CIO is rapidly being thrust into the spotlight in the 'new' globalisation because managing the supply chain, customers, brand perception, regulatory impact, mergers and acquisitions and business processes requires a pan-organisation view, and is also heavily technology-centric. Gartner has identified a list of new competencies required of the CIO. Globalisation is impacting almost every aspect of an enterprise's functioning, from market demand, as companies seek growth from emerging markets, to supply-side challenges, to threats posed by emerging market competitors. IT has a role in all of this. Globalisation will invariably increase the need to establish alliances and partnerships and in many instances the CIO is the logical choice to be asked to suggest alliance partners, given IT's engagement with a broader set of service providers globally. However two of the more interesting aspects of globalisation are access to skills and talent, and increasingly, access to innovation. The war for talent will be the biggest challenge for most enterprises globally for the foreseeable future. This seems like an anomaly, given the high levels of unemployment in various parts of the world. However, even in areas of high unemployment, there is often still a shortage of talent at the high end of the skill ladder. This problem is worse in the technology fields, and getting worse because technology is permeating every segment of the business.CIOs have a strong opportunity to drive "reverse innovation" into the enterprise, by taking innovation coming out of their emerging market presence back into the developed markets.The CIO has to lead the charge in this area. In an interview conducted at a recent Gartner Symposium, the CEO being interviewed mentioned that one of his challenges was to track innovations coming out of the emerging markets that might not be as visible to their business leaders in the developed markets. -He mentioned that this is one of the critical areas that he expects the CIO to track and provide an "early warning signal" to the rest of the business in order to give it a chance to respond to or leverage the innovation.Businesses across industries and regions have to accept that we now live in a globalised world. A key determinant of continued success or even long-term survival will be to create the capability and competencies to respond to globalised market forces. CIOs are the logical business leaders to take charge of these efforts, and this is being recognised by many of the CEOs. In instances where it is not, the CIO should proactively offer to take charge of the company's globalisation efforts.
Premium-Inhalt. V. C. Gopalratnam believes "chief innovation officer" is a better title for today's CIOs.The role "is all about innovation", says Gopalratnam, vice president IT and CIO globalisation for Cisco. "The heart of innovation comes from technology. Information is just one aspect of what a CIO does."Innovation, he says, is not necessarily about inventions, but how to do things better. "You are providing that creativity to the company either through technology, new ideas, and new ways of doing work."At the same time CEOs expect CIOs to help shape the future of the company through innovation. "There is no reason why you can not be called chief innovation officer."Gopalratnam says the CIO role is more relevant than ever. "The interesting thing about the CIO is they are much close to the business now than they ever were," he says.He says an emerging career path for CIOs today is as head of HR, and this should come as no surprise. "IT leaders deliver technology for employees. They are very familiar with what is on the minds of employees, which is why I have seen some CIOs move towards HR. You are dealing with technology that impacts productivity and the way employees work," he says. "I think it is a good move."Becoming chief operations officer is a natural progression for CIOs for this simple reason: "IT is the biggest part of operations."He sees a lot of companies integrating the technology office with the strategy office. It is a question of what industry you are in, he says. In technology companies, the CTO is positioning the company externally from a technology perspective and the CIO is focused on driving technology program inside the company. In non-technology companies, he says, these two roles come together.Today's CIOs face pressure from all directions, he says. Starting from the top, the CEOs expect the CIO to be the tech leader of the company and how to use technology to be sustainable and provide competitive advantage. CIOs have to deliver on programs to help the company grow. "Gone are the days when CIOs are an expense account in the ledger, you have to drive growth."Gopalratnam says it is critical to master three levers: productivity, globalisation and consumerisation of technology."IT as a service is where the world is headed," he says. "The minute you become a service provider, there will be pressures of SLAs, costs and delivering service in the most efficient way possible. You have to make that switch."There is freedom of choice today for clients within and outside the company. Today, clients within and outside the company have a choice of the most efficient, cheapest solution, best SLAs. "If you don't provide them that they are gone."CIOs should not view globalisation as a threat but an opportunity to get more things done, he says.Gopalratnam cites his own experience in India where he is based, and the Cisco head office in San Francisco. "We don't look at it as a 12-hour difference. We look at it as a 24-hour business day. How do you take that into a business advantage?"At the same time technology changes faster than ever before. A typical technology span is 12 to 15 months at best. If you do not make a mark within that time, you missed the boat, he says. "Be flexible to make changes on the fly as things move on." In a world of flat budgets, CIOs have to be good at prioritisation. He says CIOs should also be adept at "sensitivity analysis". "Every one of your key programmes should have these 'what if' scenarios with inputs from the business."Benchmarking is important. "Never work in isolation and in a cocoon," he says. You have to understand how services are delivered in other companies, and to benchmark your service. "Make sure it is best in class as possible, if not you can be replaced."As the world moves to cloud services, having this information is important, he says. He also says the notion of work has changed. "For the CIO, the most important responsibility is to understand the world has changed," he says. People can work anywhere, stay connected all the time. People want to be productive anywhere they want to be."Fifteen years ago we talked about work life balance. We gave up on it," he says. Today it is "work life integration", which covers areas like work, connection with the community and personal activities.Find time for these, he says, as the paradigm shifts daily for the proportion of time you will spend on any of these areas. But, he adds, "Make sure you have enough time for yourself as a tech professional and invest time to constantly upgrade your skills."So what are the critical skills CIOs need? Communication skills are important. You have to convert technical speak into business language."It is not just presentation skills," he says. "It is both internal and external communications," he says.These can include the way you send an email, the way you interact with customers and even your own team. Take a stint outside your comfort zone, he says. This could be working overseas and even outside IT. Doing the latter is better because "it gives you a different perspective."Gopalratnam has experienced this first hand. His background is in chemical engineering. He did engineering jobs, and also got involved in operations and supply chain.He joined Cisco in 2008 after running the General Electric Capital Engineering Services as the business leader of the global analytics practice. Before that, he was head of GE's Global e-Engineering. He was also involved in sales. "Not all of those areas were natural to me but I had to do it," he says. "If you do all that and you work outside your comfort zone, you will rise to the occasion."Become a global citizen and be aware of the way business is conducted in certain parts of the world, he advises. "Understand what are things that need to be customised in different parts of the world.""Different parts of the world operate differently," he says. Know what is possible, not possible, what is legal, what is not legal; what you can do and what you can't do with current constraints, he advises. He suggests CIOs to do a 'GlobeSmart profiling' which assesses whether your business skills can "gel" with other people around the world. "This gives you exposure to potential [management] blind spots."He says it is important to invest in "cost accounting foundation" or acquiring "commercial skills". Commercial skills mean understanding your service, what you are delivering to clients end to end, contracts and SLAs. "Knowledge of these will translate to new conversations with the business," he says.He says CIOs should also be adept at "sensitivity analysis". This means, "Every one of your key programmes should have these 'what if' scenarios with inputs from the business."Gopalratnam advises CIOs to engage in what he calls reverse mentoring. "Have a coach or a mentor who is Gen Y," he says. "They are bringing a new way of working, a better, understanding of technology," says Gopalratnam, who adds that he has these types of meetings every week. "There is no ego here," he says. "Just swallow it. They are much more tech savvy than we are."At the same time, the CIO can provide the young staff member professional insight that comes from experience.His final advice? "Consider yourself a business professional first, not an IT professional."
Premium-Inhalt. "Our business is not just four DHBs (district health boards) but effectively we are delivering to many individual hospital departments and primary and community care organisations, working together around the patient," says Johan Vendrig, general manager information systems, at healthAlliance. "I always compare it to a conglomerate of 150 or so businesses, all with a turnover of $2 million to $50 million. What we are trying to do is bring them all together into a shared information platform."healthAlliance was formed a year ago to deliver non-clinical services such as IT, procurement, payroll and finance -- to the four Northern Region DHBs -- Auckland, Northland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau. With a 250-strong IT team managing more than 18,000 screens and 26,000 users, healthAlliance is one of the most significant shared services organisations in the public sector. It was also named the IT using organisation in New Zealand in last year's report.Amidst this backdrop, "It is important for our teams to get that culture right; of criticality, of robust safe and reliable systems," says Vendrig. "If our systems break, it will affect patient care and safety."The goal, he says, is "around creating information systems and solutions that are facility- or health provider-agnostic, independent of where or who delivers the service."The more we make systems patient-centred, rather than provider-centric, the more we enable providers to share systems. This does not only improve efficiency but more importantly also the continuity and integration of care" he says.The importance of all these objectives was highlighted during the Christchurch earthquake. Although a patient's record stored is in a primary care centre, when the area is red labelled, you can't access the record, he says. But if the health sector agencies do things independently, there is no way they will be able to afford shared IT services with the level of resilience that is required. He says as health care providers become more reliant in information technology, investing in resilience and robustness of the systems becomes critical. "The real challenge is to explain to people shared services it is not about reducing total cost but [is] instead managing the cost growth associated with the upcoming investment in safety and reliability of shared clinical systems."Vendrig says healthAlliance is a completely new organisation, referring to the earlier shared services organisation of the same name established by the Counties Manakau and Waitemata District Health Boards. It is jointly owned by the four Northern Region DHBs and Health Benefits Limited.He says there is a strong commitment from the DHBs that for shared services to become successful, there has to be process alignment, consolidation of a number of systems, better sharing of information and reduction of complexity.Today, he says, there is a strong focus on integration and standardisation of IT Service Management processes to achieve operational excellence and ensure IT services are safe (patient focus) and reliable (clinician and customer focus)."Once you standardise, you can achieve efficiencies," he says. "A very clear effect that we have had is almost a negative economy of scale on day one. We have three sets of processes, three networks and four sets of legacy apps that number by the hundreds."It is very important for us to just consolidate and reduce the complexity as much as we can," Vendrig says. While this process may take several years, he says the organisation has targeted priority areas for consolidation by 2014 in line with the National Health IT Plan."We are introducing more regional systems every year," he says. "We have a significant number of regional projects underway; some are merging and consolidating functionality and some are introducing new systems and functionality. We [also] have many tier 1 and tier 2 systems. If you bring all of those together, the level of investment in change is so high." This change requires investments in both capital and manpower, he says. "The four patient administration systems, for instance, are very core to operations. Those alone will require tens of millions of dollars for us to bring them all together into one."He says the four organisations "are trying to collaborate as best as they can". The focus is on bringing professional and clinical leaders across the region (and in some cases across NZ) together to agree on process alignment so they can jointly decide on the way forward across the DHBs.Apart from the ongoing integration there is another area Vendrig is focusing on -- protecting core operations . "There is a real tendency for people to deprioritise operational activities and investments in favour of projects," he says. "It is important not to underestimate the need for balance: How do you deliver safe, reliable operational services as well as support projects?"If you want to do these projects, you will have to provide funding, otherwise you will keep undermining operational services.""Once you have made version 1 your live system, you don't have the luxury of version 2 stopping [when] you have to go from one live system to another," says Vendrig. "People underestimate the challenge around testing the complexity of doing that," he says. "I know you can make a complex solution work but can you keep it working? How do you keep a clinical workflow process safe and reliable when it requires four or five different tier 1 applications from different suppliers as well as multiple interfaces to be in sync?" This perspective is important, he says, because of the scale and complexity of the Northern Region DHBs' information systems. A key focus today is getting the documentation of core operational procedures at the right level, he says. "Individual groups have been around for quite a while and we are bringing the knowledge of these individuals together. We can't do that without documentation and standard operating procedures." Because of the scale and variety of its systems, healthAlliance is now benchmarking itself against service providers like Gen-i and HP, and also of larger organisations like Fonterra and Air New Zealand. Auckland Council is also one of the organisations in the list but at the moment it is also in the process of merging their systems. But the most relevant one, he says, is New South Wales Health, which has also established a common shared IS services across health services. Vendrig says the sector also looks at solutions in other countries such as the US, Denmark and Canada. Vendrig came to the role after nearly five years as CIO of the Auckland District Health Board -- one of the owners of healthAlliance. But his involvement in IT leadership roles in health began more than 15 years ago, in his native Netherlands, where he also completed a paper on health information systems at the University of Maastricht. At EDS (now part of HP), he was manager for health accounts in Auckland and Wellington. He managed the outsourcing arrangement with Capital Coast Health when it outsourced its IT to EDS, now part of HP. "I have learned a lot from managing that relationship, what worked, what didn't work."He joined the Auckland District Health Board as IS alignment manager, and eventually becoming its CIO. He says his experiences at the DHBs provided him "a very good understanding of the challenges we are facing".When he was Auckland DHB CIO, he was asked to as the main provider of community pathology services in the Auckland Region.The Quality and Safety Turnaround Assurance Team reported to the chairpersons and CEOs of the three DHBs in the Auckland region. These interactions proved useful in his current role -- where he has to interact with four boards. "The main learning out of that was, how to deal with this very complex governance structure and quite often in high pressure high risk issues?" He appreciates having a leadership group that understands the goal of the organisation "is not about IT, it is about delivering better services to patients. And IT enables that."Vendrig is emphatic about having his team's continuous interaction with the clinicians, ensuring they have clinical sponsor for their projects. It is important for the IT team not to "get too distant from the reality of doctor patient encounters", he says. They invite clinicians to give briefings, in order to bring a "more clinical culture into our teams".He is also seeing a move towards clinicians and patients collaborating around a central place, in a Web 2.0 environment. He says there are huge challenges, however, in this shift. "It comes back to how can we keep systems safe and reliable? How can we share information in a sensible, safe and secure way? Who can access [the] information?" He says that instead of large scale investments in that space, healthAlliance is looking for smaller scale projects working with a small number of strategic health IT partners.Cross department and cross agency collaboration is also important for planning, research, education and business support functions. He says an incremental approach is preferred in this area and there is a real concern around long-term licensing arrangements. He says open source can provide alternative licensing mechanisms. "The scale of licensing is a real challenge," he says. "I am happy to look at hosted or as a service type options. Cloud service offerings are becoming more relevant to the sector every day; I do not have to manage or host it all myself."More important is having the business enablement team skill set that understands the technology. "Effective collaboration doesn't happen automatically," he says. "Everybody says it is easy to set up a wiki and everybody will use it. It is the making it work that is really the challenge." He says an "incremental approach" would be to build a "business enablement team that will work with departments and make it work with them". He says at the moment, they are using some software as a service, such as the Moodle online learning environment. "There is an awful lot of potential for both clinical and administrative collaboration solutions and," he says. "We can do a lot more; there is a lot more users out there that would love us to do more in this space."Having worked on both the demand and supply side of IT services, Vendrig has a strategy for vendor management other CIOs can adopt. "That background, that understanding is very powerful to have now as well because you can have those open conversations with your suppliers," he says. "Every year, I take my business plan and publish it to all my contacts in the supplier market." The underlying message is this: "If you want to talk to me about something, this is what we are up to. If you can help me with this, then please talk to me. If you can't, please stay away because it will be just a waste of time."If he does get a cold call, he says, he just sends that information. "Have a look at this," he would say. "If you can highlight a couple of paragraphs on how you can make a difference to me, then let us talk."Vendrig unwinds by fishing, running and mountain biking. These activities, he says, are "family time" for him and a way to stay fit. He loves to travel and spent four weeks in Nepal with his Kiwi wife last November. "No phones, no electricity, just hiking," he says, smiling. "It is refreshing to have a complete break now and then."
Premium-Inhalt. There is a shortage of Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processors for tablets and smartphones due to a lack of manufacturing capacity available to make those chips, Qualcomm said on Thursday.
Premium-Inhalt. The story, "Internet ad revenue hit $31.7 billion in 2011, topping previous record," posted to the wire on Thursday, incorrectly identified Sherrill Mane's title. She is the senior vice president of research, analytics and measurement at the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Premium-Inhalt. Mark P McDonald of Gartner says becoming a social organisation is a true source of competitive advantage for networked enterprises."Anything you can do can be copied, your organisation, your structure," says McDonald, group vice president, head of research at Gartner Executive Programmes. "There is only one thing that can't be copied and is truly unique -- it is you, all of your peers, your customers, your suppliers, all the interaction and information between them."The social organisation has the ability to take that energy and amplify corporate performance." Three things, he says, define a social organisation -- it targets social media to important business purposes; achieves otherwise impossible results by facilitating productive mass collaboration; and uses this collaboration to repeatedly tap into the collective genius of the employees, partners and customers.The next opportunity for networked enterprises will be to use social technology to solve complex problems, says Andrew Rowsell Jones, vice president and research director at Gartner."Social media is not the endgame," he says. "How can I use social media to do interesting things?"It could be a "potentially disrupting idea," says Rowsell-Jones, as he advances the idea of a "purpose-driven social media strategy". "What problem is social media trying to solve? Always start with this," he states. "Does it make economic sense? What additional capabilities can social media provide?" He cites the case of Cisco, which used social media to create a network of engineers and architects. The approach was to consolidate their information sources and create a community learning site. The technology company saw an increase in Cisco certified professionals, revenue and profit.ASB Bank is in the frontline among New Zealand enterprises that have transitioned into the social enterprise arena.Anna Curzon, general manager internet banking, says ASB came into social media early, through its Twitter and Facebook sites. Based on the feedback they were getting, they realised that using the technology can go beyond marketing and extend into engaging with the customers "at a time and place that suits them". Curzon has a core group of about 40 people reporting to her across New Zealand and works with the technology team which is headed by Russell Jones, chief operations officer. She says that it is critical to have a "stellar technology partner" when the enterprise uses social technologies for business. "While we may be in different divisions, actually we are one virtual team because they are part of our planning and strategy processes. We are very much running the business collectively.She says that when they visited customers to ask them for feedback or are doing user testing, they will invite a developer or business analyst to join them. "It is important that they come with us from the very beginning of the idea, the initiation, right through to execution because if they are listening with us, what customers are saying, intuitively they will be much faster when they come to execute and cut the code for us."She says social media is the best way to get customer feedback. "Often, we will check out what might be a great comment or not so great comment. Our social media team says it is a great gift to them because they have the opportunity to respond back."She says suggestions on functionality or a new service are categorised and help to prioritise the development of internet and mobile banking. "It was getting that collective intelligence and making things better together."Curzon says before ASB's Android app was launched, her team talked to a number of people throughout New Zealand through videoconferencing. "We gave them the opportunity to download our app, play with it and give us feedback through video," she says. "It was great because they were sitting in their homes or at work and pulling out their screen to show us what we were talking about."Curzon says ASB was the first to open a branch on Facebook. "It gives us an opportunity to be where our customers are," she says. "When 1.5 million [people in] New Zealand [are] on social media and on average [they are] spending around 25 minutes, it really is important for us to be there."We also had the backing of a group of customers that we knew really wanted this service and were very engaged with the thought of having to do banking through the likes of Facebook."Asked for lessons learned from the experience, she says, "It is very important to understand from a customer perspective. "To build a community on Facebook or Twitter, you have got to earn the right to be in people's feeds and that means you need to respect that and tread carefully. You are only going to communicate something when it is relevant and timely and it is going to have an impact or value for them."As it is, she says, ASB is continuously on the lookout for new platforms. ASB was the first to bank to establish a presence on Google plus in New Zealand, she says. "We were the first to be there because it is a place where our customers are and it is the place for us to communicate with our customers."Social is a window to an organisation and so you have got to be prepared to be yourself. Be honest, admit mistakes, ask [for] feedback," she says. "I would also recommend that because of that reason, that people use internal employees to drive the social enterprise because it has to be part of your internal culture."Chris Quin does not see social media as a marketing tool per se. "I think of it as a communication tool. They are different things," says the Gen-i CEO. "Our Facebook presence and our website presence is about providing solutions, service information and case studies so people can go to these places and understand who we are, what we do and how might engage with them."Quin sends out his own Twitter messages and there is a corporate Twitter that is used as a communication device. "You understand that whenever you use it, it is very public. I approach it in the same way I approach a conversation in a private meeting, in a bar, in a public address."The technology side of social media is not particularly hard, he says. You just got to have some basic policies in place that will allow people to use internet based services like Facebook and Twitter. "Everything else, really, you have to think about in a similar way to the way you think about all of your communications and the way you engage with customers."He says the benefits of enterprise use of Twitter were clearly demonstrated during the Canterbury earthquakes. "The simple driver behind that was that most people couldn't get to a network connection but they could get on to an internet connection. Facebook and Twitter really took off as business tools during those times because that was how we communicated to our customers and to our staff."He remembers the first earthquake in Canterbury in 2010. Within four minutes he got a call on the company's crisis escalation system. "I had my work email and various things I use to understand what is going on, a second laptop running Twitter." "Twitter was telling me what was going on, what was working, what wasn't. I was able to see things like electricity company updates or they were able to send updates to me and to our customers. We were able to respond to people directly."It was a mass communication tool where you have a conversation with your audience. Second, it was very current and very relevant because there were people on the ground tweeting."Management policy is critical, says Quin. "You have got to be clear you have decided to be present in social media and allow your people to use it. You may have to have a simple policy on who is allowed to speak on behalf of the company. For enterprises, "I think it is important to make it two-way. You can't send out messages and not get a response. You have got to be in communication with people." He says enterprises should also make sure Twitter messages are getting picked up and they respond in the same way they respond to a phone call. "People can have valuable interactions over social media and create great outcomes for the business."Andy Shields, group IT manager at Beca, highlights the role of IT in developing a collaborative culture using technology. The engineering and consultancy firm has 17 offices locally and across the region, including China. The company's upcoming move to new headquarters in central Auckland provided the impetus to provide technology that will allow its own staff and those of the other companies to work together using a range of technologies, says Shields. "We have taken into account in our new premises a lot around the collaborative nature of our business. We are a people business; we spend a lot of time working in teams. Different parts of our organisation have to come together maybe for a period of six weeks," he explains.When working on a specific project, we made sure the new building has provisions for these types of things, he says. "There are collaborative spaces where people can come together work together and then disperse and go back to their own desks." At the same time, the firm can bring its customers and partners to the building to work on these collaborative spaces. This is important for Beca, he says, as its projects involve collaboration with different companies including competitors, and usually involve consultants.He says that because the company is using Microsoft Lync across the organisation, it is able to run voice and video wireless circuits. "There are a number of different ways you can collaborate, a number of different technologies you can use," says Shields. On the potential of enterprise social media, he says, "We are watching what Microsoft is doing with Skype, but part of our trying to present ourselves [as] easy to [work with] in the outside world is going to involve a lot of social media."He says these could be around Twitter or as simple as texting. "The challenge for a project in some of the social media is, how do you capture a lot of the information on the project?" In a Facebook page for a project, for example, "How do you filter out what is relevant and what is not relevant?"Beca has a wiki but only for internal use. "Our business is built on relationships with our partners and those relationships are extremely important," he says. So for IT, making it easy for Beca to do business with partners is a main business driver."We want customers to say where do we go to find a partner who is easy and transparent and open and do not have the usual [technology] boundaries?""We want to be device agnostic. We want people to be able to bringing their own devices using their iPad and tablet both BYOD or issue by the company. We in IT don't want to have to really care what the device is. Our goal is to protect the data, not protect the device." When the device is lost, Beca can wipe out the corporate information using a technology that sits on the device like a "virtual bubble".He says the firm makes use of what he calls 'team view sites'. This becomes the document repository and the central location for employees so they can share information. "If they are Lync-enabled, they can see presence awareness that allows them to effectively work in a virtual environment." The successful social enterprise has the technology, processes to break data down into insight and ability to respond, says Vincent Cotte, product marketing executive of SAS.The digital landscape today includes business content like blogs, and interactive content like Flickr and YouTube. "Social media is the new water cooler with a twist -- the transcripts are now splashed on a billboard 24x7x365 so the stakes are higher."The key, he says, is to create business processes whereby information from social media is translated into action. An area where enterprises can start is customer service. "Enable your customer service teams to reply. Find the right person for the right action," he advises. "Customer complaints should be funnelled to a customer care centre. An identified need can be routed to a sales contact." "How do you filter out irrelevant conversation and focus on the real stuff? How do you mine and cluster that information into something useful? There is nothing worse than producing insight and not getting it to work and derive business value from it." Cotte says data is growing and enterprises need to step up to make sense of this data and embrace opportunities for the business and departments. "We need to embrace these new mediums in order to answer our traditional questions."There is an opportunity for data scientists in this arena, he says. "These conversations have always happened. They have just been face to face conversations around the water cooler. Now we can track it, we can aggregate it, we can combine it with information we already have about our customer base to help us prioritise."The key thing for CIOs is to look at whether the enterprise has the ability to manage the increase in data. Second, is the ability to analyse the data, both unstructured and structured, and to look at phrases and sentiments. The need to understand sentiment and tone of conversations out there is important, he says. The third is putting in the technology and the processes to be able to respond. "All of the insights in the world is not going to allow you to make a difference. Having the ability to have workflows, ability to prioritise work and get it to the right person at the right time is key in making sure you can make an impact to those metrics and you need to understand the business metrics that you are affecting," says Cotte.Tony Armfield, vice president, enterprise sales at Salesforce.com, says a lot of companies start on the social enterprise route by getting an awareness of what is going on in the social context. This leads to a more external focus, moving from monitoring to engaging with the customers and creating a social profile of their customers.Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the parent company of ASB, for instance, launched IdeaBank where the concept of crowdsourcing is applied on what banking should look like.He says "social speed" is critical as the bank had only weeks to implement the concept and deploy these to millions of customers. In the case of CAB, people gave a "thumbs up or thumbs down" on ideas so the bank knows which ideas resonate with the customer base.For CIOs in social enterprises, it comes back to the basic premise of a CIO understanding what a business is trying to achieve and then searching out and promoting that IT is going to help them, he says. "Innovative CIOs today are assessing those solutions and understanding these solutions need to be implemented in a very agile and very rapid return on investment manner.'"John Roberts, research vice president Asia Pacific in Gartner CIO Research, says there has been a "fairly conservative approach" from most organisations in the region with enterprise use for social media.CIOs are in a "watch and see" stance, he says. "There is this explosion in the amount of digital technologies available and yet for many CIOs, their fundamental objective always remains making sure the lights stay on."At the same time, he says CIOs themselves have to become users of the technology. Most organisations would have early adopters to new technology and he knows one CIO who has been tapping the knowledge of this cohort. "He made it a habit of once a month sitting down with one of the younger generation [staff] and talking to them about how they are communicating."He says there is a realisation some people use email as the "last resort" when communicating. "Most people want immediate interaction and that is the benefit of social media, it has become more of a collaboration tool," observes Roberts.He has seen organisations looking at niche areas where it makes sense to use social media. One such area is safety. "It needs to be something so important to the organisation that people will want to share quickly," he says. "All of these technologies, they don't change things. People change things because they decided it makes life easier, better for them."He says CIOs need to support experiments using social technology in parts of the organisation. There is, however, no blanket directive to become a social organisation. "In many respects, organisations are already social organisations -- sometimes we confuse the technology with the way people interact with each other." There is already a lot of social interaction, or instance, around a lunch table, at a conference table."The challenge is, what is the business benefit of having another means of communications?"For Roberts, a more important question is, "Does everybody in the organisation have the right information? And the answer to that is often 'no'. There is information everywhere but never in the form I want.""CIOs right now are feeling the pressure of trying to advance on many fronts," he says. In the meantime, they are still coping with complex legacy applications, and complex and growing infrastructure.Adding to this is their need to prepare for a future workforce that can meet the needs of the evolving enterprise technology. "What we are seeing in all of this is a move from the back office type of technology development into far more focus on the user interface and those skill sets are often not inside the IT organisation."Roberts compares this to the time when the web emerged and the shift was from traditional programming skills to web based skills. "This is the next wave of that technology development," he says. "For many IT organisations, right now is the time they do need to think about what new skills they need within their IT organisations to be able to play in these areas; because if they don't, people will go elsewhere." Developing a social media leadership strategyGartner lists five action areas CIOs can take in the next 12 months. The social business is changing rapidly, so make sure to review and update them regularly, advise Gartner analysts John Mahoney and John P Roberts:• Get involved personally in social media. Ensure you are personally visible and present in the systems to understand how they work, lead others to participate and build personal credibility. • Ensure sponsored social media initiatives focus on specific objectives that matter to the enterprise. Every initiative should be designed to advance a business-value metric, such as customer retention or staff productivity.• Review and develop IT governance to build communities of practice for social media across the enterprise. Make clear the aim is effective management of information and "flexible exploitation" of communication, not control of technology.• Make social media part of your larger enterprise information architecture. Develop tools and processes to harness collective intelligence.• Develop a strategy that includes the definition of the audience and participants. Include level of engagement desired and how the organisation will benefit from social media.
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