Global CIO: In The Age Of Facebook, IT Problems Become CIO Nightmares

For unknown reasons, a vital software application isn't delivering mission-critical information, and the end-customers are screaming mad. And they're airing their complaints very publicly on Facebook.

Twitter is helping corporations of all stripes engage with customers candidly, productively, globally, and inexpensively. In this age of experience-driven marketing, in which customers not only want but expect to be involved in product co-creation and enhancements, Twitter gives businesses the unprecedented ability to tap into customer-driven feedback loops, which just on their own are highly valuable, and turn them into marketing labs, message amplifiers, focus groups, sales tests, and possibly even goodwill ambassadors.

In the second, called "A CIO's Fear Of Social Networking", Global CIO columnist Howard Anderson describes how CIOs who resist, fear, and fight the rise of social media will face a very difficult battle:

We have a disconnect. Marketing wants to understand social networking and jump on board; IT views it as another expensive disruption that is going to complicate their lives, drive up costs, threaten security.

And they're both right.

. . . Social networking is one large town hall meeting. Every blog, wiki, mashup poses real threats to hierarchies, which means that power is shifting. It used to be that The Corporate Gods decided ... and the peons accepted. But there has been a palace revolt, and the smart companies are trying to figure this out. Not Stu. Not yet. He isn't ready for mass participation, mass cooperation, or mass collaboration. He probably is in favor of mass suicide.

I would bet that Price George's County school-district CIO Watts will soon need to discuss his SchoolMax advisory-council responsibilities because my guess is it's going to get a great deal of exposure from the 4,500-plus end-customers/students in his district who are bringing a great deal of visibility and transparency to this issue via the swelling voice they've gained not at the invitation of the school district, and not through SchoolMax, and not by writing letters to the Superintendent.

No, their transparency platform and their megaphone are much more powerful and pervasive, and they don't depend on anyone else issuing them an invitation, or turning on a software feature, or agreeing to them an audience.

Instead, these young end-customers have collaborated aggressively via Facebook, and it is that collaboration that is becoming a CIO's close ally or worst nightmare.

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

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