Last Friday I attended the Gartner EXP Forum in Venice, where a group of Italian CIOs met for a couple of days to discuss trends, issues and priorities with Gartner analysts.
I had the pleasure to run the opening session, which was a panel with three executives: the CIO from a consumer-facing enterprise in the entertainment industry, the CIO of a large city and the CEO of a public-private technology industry incubator.
The topic was “Social Media: All Boundaries Blur” and, after a short introduction, I aimed at a discussion on how the porous boundaries between internal and external use of social media, and the difficulty of doing any strategic planning in this area are challenging CIOs in their efforts of aligning technology to business value.
Each panelist offered a different perspective. From the creation of consumer communities for the private sector CIO, through the struggle in increasing technology uptake inside the organization for the city CIO, to the use of multiple social media to engage various industry and research stakeholders in several crowdsourcing exercises for the CEO.
When I started to explore the core topic of the panel, i.e. the moving boundaries between personal and professional use, and the changing nature of “information”, their replies became slightly more evasive and less direct. I had the feeling that panelists either did not feel too comfortable with the subject or had not fully elaborated the subject.
My last question was about how they see the “I” of CIO evolve toward including non-corporate information residing in social networks used by citizens and employees on a personal basis.
It goes without saying that there was no straight answer, although they all agreed that CIOs cannot ignore this and need to take a proactive approach rather than hide their heads in the sand, becoming either an innovation or a marketing agent. However nobody clearly said how the spelling of “information management” would change with social media adoption inside and outside the enterprise. Everybody agrees about the value of this external information, but when it comes to taking responsibility of helping the business extract value, CIOs seem to fingerpoint in a different direction, be it communication, marketing, or customer service.
There is still limited understanding that this becomes a key issue for the new workplace in any industry, be it public or private. I do not think CIOs have the option of taking a back seat on this. They need to move from articulating and preventing the risks of personal lives creeping into professional lives, to helping their enterprises uncover the benefits.