How to remain relevant in a social world

EY CIO blog author - Adlai GoldbergHong Kong cinema-goers have encountered an odd new phenomenon at the movies recently: teenagers suddenly waving their smartphones at the screen and shouting “chok, chok, chok.” This isn’t in connection with some new 3D alien invasion film, but rather the runaway success of Coca-Cola’s recent viral social media marketing campaign in the region.

From Hong Kong to Hamburg, the fact is that companies around the world are rapidly finding creative new ways of using social media to engage and connect with their customers. Technology is often at the heart of this: the core of the Coca-Cola campaign was a smartphone app that collected rewards when waved during the screening of the related advert.

But while such initiatives clearly have technology as an important component, there’s typically a familiar face missing from the table at these discussions: the CIO. The fact is that marketing teams, customer care, HR and other teams are simply helping themselves when it comes to social media. And why not? Many tools are free, simple to run, and don’t tend to require any IT infrastructure because they’re based in the cloud.

All of this may leave the CIO feeling somewhat high and dry – unless the role is repositioned toward more socially relevant business requirements. To help drive the point home with your peers, here are five questions you may want to ask, which support the message of where IT is able to provide direct value to the business.

  1. What plan do you have in place to gather deeper insights on the back of the social data you’re gathering? Exciting new tools are great to play with, but IT’s ability to extract deeper analytics can help to answer important strategic questions, benchmark performance against competitors, or uncover potential risks or cost-saving opportunities. We’re here to help.
  2. Have you thought about other ways to amplify what you’re seeking to do here? With so much innovation happening in the digital space, it’s no surprise that marketers, HR executives and others are finding useful new tools. However, it is always a struggle to keep up with the latest trends. IT is actually really well placed to advise on other tools, add-ons and capabilities that can all extend the benefits you’re already getting.
  3. Have you thought about the implications that your social media activities may have on our data governance policies and structures? As social media and other data-intensive projects are distributed across the business, it increasingly makes sense for the company to develop central guidelines and policies on how to make best use of these capabilities — and, at the same time, to manage risks that may be created. IT can help you navigate this.
  4. Do you have any controls in place for the information security risks this might open up? As EY’s Global Information Security Survey highlights, it’s simply a question of when, not if, your firm might be subjected to a cybersecurity threat. What protections do your new tools and systems have in place for this? And what are the risks of getting it wrong? IT is here to help develop the good practices that are needed.
  5. Did you do any due diligence or assurance on how your social tools work, and whether we’re remaining compliant? Another consideration to bear in mind, especially for tools we’re using in the cloud, is that we may face legal restrictions on where, and how, the company’s data is stored and shared. Is your new cloud-based tool in a secure location, or is it in an untested start-up in a country where we should not be storing our data?

I’m guessing that these questions may raise an eyebrow or two in your business. Be sure you’re ready to deliver answers when they actually buy into this.

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