CIOs Need to Join the Social Conversation

It’s time to learn how to exploit the tools of mass discussion—or risk being sidelined. For starters, CIOs need to become more personally familiar with social media.

The relationship between CIOs and CMOs has been called "socially awkward," since IT is seen as the land of slow and no and marketing staff has a reputation for being unguided missiles. This strained relationship is especially evident when it comes to social media strategy, yet that's where cooperation between marketing and IT is most needed.

We're at a point where technologies such as social media, big data, location-awareness and cloud-based CRM have, collectively, become what I call "weapons of mass discussion."

While I appreciate the sensitivities of using this term, I think it's appropriate because the business world has been radically altered by the incredible power of mass-discussion technologies.

When properly deployed and integrated, social media provides the closest proxy we've ever had for the aggregate mind of the consumer. Companies that can listen to and influence what customers are thinking, saying and doing in real time can reap significant competitive advantages, while those who are inept at this will find themselves in an increasingly perilous defensive posture.

In many companies, mass-discussion technologies such as social CRM are now at the center of IT investment and innovation. Some pundits predict marketing's IT expenditures will surpass those of the traditional IT department. But my research contradicts those who predict the demise of IT; it shows that demand for socially savvy IT professionals within marketing organizations is increasing.

Many marketers are more dependent than ever on IT's expertise to build a safety net for adopting marketing technology. Rather than becoming extinct, IT pros with social-media and mobile skills are simply wearing a new marketing jersey--and deriving more professional stimulation as a result.

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