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Why IT leaders need to be ‘social CIOs’

Kenny MacIver — May 2014
Social media platforms offer IT leaders the opportunity to guide highly valuable engagement — across the business and with customers, says UBS CIO Oliver Bussmann.

The social media world of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is a long way away from the day-to-day routine of many CIOs. But according to Oliver Bussmann, group CIO of international bank UBS, any IT leader who is not constantly engaged with such technologies is missing out on a huge opportunity — a multi-layered opportunity that involves their own IT group, the rest of the business, its engagement with customers and partners, and the CIO’s own professional development.

“Every CIO needs to be a social CIO,” Bussmann argues in an exclusive video interview with I-CIO. Around 20% to 30% of the role involves communication and that can best be achieved today by providing a social media platform, he says.

That was an important starting point for Bussmann a year ago when he joined UBS, the Zurich-based international bank, from business applications software provider SAP. “Providing that collaboration platform to engage with our employees was critical,” he says.

“Over the first six months of leveraging the social media platform, we saw a massive increase – around about 25% –  in communication and interaction within the IT organization, as the numbers of users and the numbers of blogs went up, as well as people reaching out to the management team.”

Following that example, various parts of the UBS business are now setting up their own collaboration spaces and leveraging social media platforms to cascade information and engage with employees in a more fluid way, he says. “That’s a big change,” he emphasizes.
New external engagement

Improving internal collaboration is only one part. The CIO also plays a critical role in also enabling external social engagement — especially among potential customers looking for guidance through chat sites and reviews. “[In] the banking industry, around 50% of customers are looking into social channels for product information,” says Bussmann. So CIOs, together with their CMOs and the heads of business units, need to embrace and understand how customers prefer to communicate and engage, he argues.

“Compared to previous years, [companies need] a totally different game plan: you have a different reach to those potential customers through social media channels, and there is a level of sophistication [of approach] –  understanding customer preferences and transforming that customer experience into business value – that requires strong technology support.”

The potential should not be underestimated, says Bussmann. “The way you engage with potential customers and your community – building up a social brand as a trusted adviser – has real reach, he argues. “If you build content over blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter, you build up a community that is willing to listen, to share and engage. And that drives brand awareness and brand impact and has an impact on the business from a reach, revenue, opportunity and rating [perspective].

For IT leaders, there is little choice but to lead by example, he concludes. “The CIO has to be a role model in exploring, using social media. If you utilize this yourself, you understand the value, the importance, the benefits of using it – and the more you can convince your management team in the business to utilize and leverage it [too].”
First published
May 2014
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About: Oliver Bussmann
Oliver Bussmann is a transformation CIO and pioneer of business-building social media strategies. Head of IT worldwide at UBS since 2013, he earlier created a revenue-generating IT organization at SAP, earning him awards as European CIO of the Year and Most Social CIO.

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