Five ways IT pros can use social media to propel the business forward

By Toni Bowers | March 2, 2011, 5:39 AM PST

I hear a lot from IT managers who get ticked off a little by the emphasis in media circles about the need for innovative thinking in IT. None of them deny the need, but most of them exist in reactive mode, and wouldn't have the time to innovate even if they had the resources.

So along comes commercialized IT — smartphones and social media — and managing a company's IT feels like cat herding. It becomes a dichotomy. IT folks, who love technology, almost resent the rate and manner in which new technology is hitting them.

In other words, the lines between business and personal communication are being blurred. So, as an IT pro, how do you navigate and leverage these new modes of communication and continue to keep both legal and the business happy?

I spoke to Len Couture, Managing Director, and Corinne Sklar, Vice President of Marketing, for, an agile business transformation company in New York City about this topic. They provided five tips for IT pros for letting social communication propel your business forward.

Embrace change. The younger and older generations have quite different views regarding what's appropriate and what's not. For example, many younger workers think that it's fine to send a thank you note via a text message. Older workers may be horrified by this. However, it's interesting to note that even more senior workers think it's fine to send a thank you note via email - which the generation before them would have frowned on. So things change.

Be open to changing hierarchical structures. There's a major generational difference when it comes to attitudes toward hierarchies. The older generation is accustomed to more rigid hierarchical structure, while the generation born on the web came up at time when hierarchies weren't really in vogue. So while they might not think anything of texting the CEO, for the "old school," this kind of casual interaction with top leadership wouldn't happen. More flat structured communications, however, can drive innovation and keep leadership keenly in touch with the pulse of the organization.

Help your organization understand the power of interpersonal communication: Current events in Egypt are an excellent case in how communication has fundamentally changed because of social media. In Egypt, the communication swelled and hit 'critical mass.' This wouldn't have happened ten years ago, because someone would have intervened and altered the message before it hit critical mass. If social communication can overthrow dictators, imagine what it can do for your company.

Lead social communication innovation internally: There's no point in standing in the way of these changes - those who do will find themselves left behind. CIOs and IT pros should embrace these changes and - if they want to really stand out - lead the innovation. This can be accomplished by influencing how these changes in communication are used from day-to-day. First, you figure out how it impacts the business, and then develop a strategy to embrace it. A good example of this may be found in how businesses are leveraging to harness their creative power and drive innovation.

Demonstrate the value of collaborative communication: To get buy in for IT-led communication innovation, get your key business stakeholders' buy-in by showing how increasingly open communication will benefit the company by facilitating higher quality, more efficient communication.

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