Guest Post: Mark Fidelman
IBM STUDY: If You Don’t Have a SOCIAL CEO, You’re Going to be Less Competitive
The list of the world’s CEOs regularly includes celebrities, billionaires, big egos, risk takers, and failures. What it does not include are social media experts; but that’s about to change. When IBM (NYSE: IBM) conducted its study of 1709 CEOs around the world, they found only 16% of them participating in social media. But their analysis shows that the percentage will likely grow to 57% within 5 years.
Why? because CEOs are beginning to recognize that using email and the phone to get the message out isn’t sufficient anymore.
The big takeaway: That using social technologies to engage with customers, suppliers and employees will enable the organization to be more adaptive and agile.
“As CEOs ratchet up the level of openness within their organizations, they are developing collaborative environments where employees are
encouraged to speak up, exercise personal initiative, connect with fellow
collaborators, and innovate,” the IBM study concluded.
Simply put, CEOs and their executives set the cultural tone for an organization. Through participation, they implicitly promote the use of social technologies. That will make their organizations more competitive and better able to adapt to sudden market changes.
Other key findings of the study include:
- The study reveals that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.
- Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness – often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation – as a key influence on their organization.
- While social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.
- More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.
- Championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study findings, the business executives are interested in leading by example.
- CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.
- The trend toward greater collaboration extends beyond the corporation to external partnering relationships. Partnering is now at an all-time high. In 2008, slightly more than half of the CEOs IBM interviewed planned to partner extensively. Now, more than two-thirds intend to do so.
- CEOs are most focused on gaining insights into their customers. Seventy-three percent of CEOs are making significant investments in their organizations’ ability to draw meaningful customer insights from available data.
I’ve often held IBM as the best example of a Social Business and a company to emulate rather than Apple. I believe this study and the analysis behind it, reinforces that view.
The IBM study shows that CEOs and the companies they manage must constantly evolve to stay competitive. Partners, suppliers, employees and customers want CEOs to communicate with them on a personal level to build trust and to help align them to the organization’s strategy. There is a lot at stake here. And if CEOs continue to hide in their Ivory Towers under the guise of some old command and control mentality, the next chapter in their career might be written somewhere else.
No one wants that.