How to be a CIO in a 2.0 world


This morning I had the pleasure to be the guest pundit at the breakfast meeting of the Toronto CIO organization. The question of the day was to embrace social media tools within the IT structure of traditional large enterprise and how to attract and retain talent amongst the younger and net-savvy generation. In their words:

“‘“Why We Won’t Work for You:’ Many bright, young minds elude large corporate employers. We will seek to gain an understanding from these individuals why the traditional corporate workplace, policies and social network lacks appeal. Discussions will focus on managing policies surrounding social networking in the workplace and how to effectively engage the commitment and maximize the contributions of this valuable corporate resource.”

Here’s some of my notes of that conversation:

  • Try to spend most of your day enabling rather than denying the use of technology
    Security and privacy and compliance are all important but if you don’t spend at least as much time balancing those needs against productivity, agility and user frustration it won’t be that long before you have no users left.
  • The future of IT is about being coaches not nannies
    There are two types people in your organization those that know they deserve better IT and those poor souls so conditioned by years of using the same 4 MSOffice apps on the same crappy hardware that they have no idea. Get out there and give them both the coaching and access to tools to be effective, not just the long list of policies of what you are not allowed to do with your computer.
  • The future of IT is about seeing tech support as an opportunity driver not a cost center
    Too often I see organizations chasing false economies in technologies. Minimizing support costs, is not the same thing as maximizing productivity. The lowest “total cost of ownership” for IT assets is to just deny your employees access to the functions of their computers. Incidentally, this is pretty much the mindset of how Windows Vista was designed. We need to give our IT managers the right incentives and recognition for driving increases in firm productivity and employee work/life satisfaction.
  • GoogleApps have raised our expectations.
    One might wonder why Google can, for free, give me GBs upon GBs of instantly searchable and magically archived email while meanwhile my fortune 500 enterprise gives me draconian inbox limits and painful searching and archiving.

  • Blocking webmail or Facebook is futile.
    You lost this battle the day the iPhone was launched. Increasingly employees will be bringing their own pocket computers (phones) and connections with them no matter what you think about that.
  • There is no clean separation between working and social life.
    Work contacts are also social contacts, twitter/Facebook/IM et all are versatile and multipurpose tools. By using them at work you might tap your twitter network to help answer a pressing work-related question, you might be using FB or IM to more efficiently balance work and life stay in touch socially with friends/family and thereby be able, willing to spend more time in the office.
  • Take a tour of a startup
    Want to know what’s possible and what of the latest tool work in the real world. Leave the office for a day and take a tour of a startup, one of your small vendors or digital agencies and see what tricks, what cloud apps, what Google Apps the small companies are using.

  • Trust
    It’s also about trust, if you can’t trust your people to get their job done and use the tools and internet access responsibly, then why did you hire them? If you can’t trust your employees, your clients or the public with open forums to communicate with each other and give you honest and authentic feedback then what kind of operation are you running?
  • Enterprise2.0 as transformational
    Finally, there was a lot of talk about the end-game in social media in the enterprise. Better tools as an enabler of a flatter and more empowering organization to be able to identify and nourish leaders, especially younger or more junior leaders that otherwise might be buried in your org structure.

What other advice would you add?