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7/15/2013
03:56 PM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
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10 IT Leaders To Follow On Twitter

Where to find the best IT words of wisdom, 140 characters at a time.




A commonly cited benefit of using Twitter is being able to network with and learn from other people, particularly other professionals and leaders in your field. Whereas some social sites require another person's approval to connect, you can follow just about anyone on Twitter without their active permission. (The rare exception is private Twitter accounts. Guess what? If your account is private, it's not on this list.) This got us thinking: Whom should IT pros be following on Twitter?

Coming up with a good list is tougher than you might think, given both the overall popularity of the site and what seems to be a rapidly growing population of people involved with IT who tweet on at least a semi-regular basis.

If you're a reluctant tweeter -- or downright skeptical of Twitter -- that's OK. There's no rule that you must suddenly start firing off wit and wisdom in 140-character bursts to use the site. In fact, new Twitter users might be best served doing more listening than tweeting as they get their bearings. If you're already a power user, good on you -- it's still always a plus when you discover someone new worth following and connecting with.

That's one of the positives of Twitter: the chance to learn. Twitter is one of the major reasons IT pros have more access to others in their industry -- from the C suite to vendors to competitors to peers -- than ever before. From a learning and networking perspective, IT pros probably shouldn't ask "Why use Twitter?" but "Why not?" You don't have much to lose, aside from a bit of time. (Let's face it, you're probably online 24-7 already.) That holds true for IT greenhorns and battle-tested veterans alike; in this field, the trends and skills change constantly. If you've stopped learning, well, best of luck.

We based most of our list on recommendations from other professionals, both inside IT and in other fields like marketing, with a couple of our own picks thrown in for good measure. There was no prerequisite job title, though you'll certainly see plenty of the letter C. Some here tweet from a perch in the executive suite; others from the trenches in areas like security, data science and cloud computing. An IT leader didn't need a gazillion followers to be considered, although some, such as Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, do have a gazillion followers, give or take. We excluded some groups from consideration, such as the technology analyst community, although we received some worthwhile suggestions in that area.

Certain perspectives are obviously skewed toward the person's employer; you should not be shocked, for instance, if Werner Vogels mentions Amazon Web Services from time to time. That said, a general goal for the list was to find people who tweet broadly about all things IT -- not just all things Company X. Likewise, while we leaned on the recommendations of others, a guiding principle was to find IT leaders who, like Vogels, actually respond to or engage with other Twitter users.

These, of course, are not the only IT leaders worth following on Twitter. It's a starting point, food for thought, a list to help you generate your own list. Adjust to your own preferences, interests and career goals accordingly. Got your own favorites? Don't be stingy. Tell us whom you follow in the comments below or tweet them to me @kevinrcasey.


Okta CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon says that when it comes to IT influencers on Twitter, Box's Ben Haines tops his list. Here's why: "He shares relevant articles about IT, engages with his followers, retweets industry leaders and occasionally throws in a joke or personal tweet," McKinnon says. "Ben also tweets out a daily newspaper which aggregates stories from the folks he follows. As he puts it in the paper's tagline, he 'tries to find the best of the best; the thought leaders, disruptive technologies, leadership advice and people interested in challenging the status quo and moving forward.' And he's got it down -- following him is basically like following a Twitter list of IT experts, and entertaining ones at that."

Bonus for hipsters and beer drinkers: Haines is the former CIO of Pabst Brewing Company.

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The Twitterverse is known for generally looking down on sales and marketing messages. Likewise, when a C-level exec turns the keys to her Twitter account over to an intern, it's usually pretty obvious -- followers want genuine interaction. Those lead the reasons why Techaisle's Anurag Agrawal follows Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's CTO. "She tweets regularly and provides good information about what is happening at Cisco without being salesy," Agrawal says. He's not alone in his pick: More than 1.4 million people follow Warrior's tweets.

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Good security tips matter a lot to Joshua Weiss, CEO and CIO of mobile developer Teliapp, who picks John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Says Weiss, "As many of our new clients are enterprise-level companies concerned about security, I am always looking for insights and information on what we can do to improve our development methods. I follow a handful of CIOs whom I personally find highly intelligent. [Halamka] is one of the people at the top of my list."

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

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6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

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Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


Abizer Rasheed, president of managed services provider Effortless 24-7, enjoys Goerlich's mix of IT expertise and his involvement in the IT scene in the Midwest, where Rasheed works. "Wolfgang shares a unique mixture of insights, tech articles, and local happenings in the Michigan tech scene," Rasheed says. "He has a wry sense of humor and an ear towards dialog, intertwining humorous anecdotes alongside with his hard-edge technical posts. Wolfgang's feed is one-of-a-kind among the many IT leaders on Twitter and I find it highly valuable."

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Why CIOs Must Be More Social

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6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


It shouldn't come as a surprise that Bussmann made this list. The former SAP exec has been crowned the "most social CIO" for his presence on Twitter and elsewhere. Cheri Mangum, head of marketing at Freeborders, explains why she follows Bussmann: "As Freeborders is a SAP Services partner, I started following Bussmann to get timely market insights when he was still with SAP," she says. "He gives valuable comments on trends like mobile and analytics and is not afraid to try new social media tools. As he is now Group CIO at UBS, I am looking forward to [getting] his view on the role of IT in preparing financial services for the future."

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

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6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

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"This [Gentry's @data_nerd] is by far my favorite Twitter handle because of the sharable content," says Ashley Fantigrossi, director of marketing and communications at iVEDiX. "Tweets are packed with infographics and hot topics in business intelligence, and the personal commitment to relationship building makes retweeting a joy."

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

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Facebook Graph Search: 8 Things To Know

6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


Vogels might be worth following simply given Amazon's ever-growing reach. Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft might generate more headlines, but Amazon is the world's largest Web host and growing rapidly. (It's also dropping prices to undermine the chances of serious competition to its Amazon Web Services unit.) Vogels is an active tweeter, too, regularly updating his stream.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

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Facebook Graph Search: 8 Things To Know

6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


Mike Baukes, CEO of ScriptRock, offers his reason for following Murray: "He always has highly curated articles about IT in the enterprise space." Baukes also likes Murray's blog. "It has some great articles on cloud computing and IT." It also explains the origin of @Adamalthus, Murray's Twitter handle.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

Twitter Makes Small But Useful Updates

Facebook Graph Search: 8 Things To Know

6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


Paris Georgallis, VP of platform services at RMS, knows Sakac from when they worked together at EMC. He finds Sakac's tweets valuable for staying on top of cloud computing trends. "Chad is a very savvy technologist and is plugged into one of the largest technology firms that develop and sell solutions for the cloud," Georgallias says. "Chad has a view on the industry trends and is in a position to affect what products and services EMC and its subs take to market around all aspects of cloud computing."

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

Twitter Makes Small But Useful Updates

Facebook Graph Search: 8 Things To Know

6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts


OK, we'll cop to a bias on this one. Feldman is not just CIO for the City of Asheville, N.C., but he's also an InformationWeek contributor. If you've read his columns, you already know that he's not short on opinions on all things technology, not just for government IT shops but across many areas and organizational types.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Why CIOs Must Be More Social

Twitter Makes Small But Useful Updates

Facebook Graph Search: 8 Things To Know

6 Tips: How To Speak C-Suite

Tell Me Again Why CEOs Should Tweet

6 Ways To Make Promoted Tweets Pay Off

Twitter Trouble: 9 Social Media Security Tips

The Art Of Tweeting: Do's And Don'ts

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