Tag Archives: CIO

Seven IT Eras Leading CIOs to Become One of the Key Evangelists to a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

In the last 10 years, the modern CIO has transformed himself into an IT chargé d’affaires (mediator) and a key technological emissary.  He has become one of the key players to the development of any successful social business strategy.  In this two-part series, we will review the seven stages that led IT to transform its traditional door-keeping role into the technological beacon of a social enterprise.  Without further ado, let’s review the last fifty years of IT’s technological maturing and unraveling.
1. Main Frame Computing
In the mid 70s, my dad and I regularly headed to the wholesale outlet in Orléans (France) to get our grocery supply.  As a teenager, one item particularly fascinated me, the huge IBM tabulating machine in the administration hall. 

An employee would insert the punched-cards into the machine.  Then, this giant would print out an invoice with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, this was in the mid 70s state-of-the-art technology:  the era of mainframe computers (mostly used for transaction processing) roughly covering the late 50s through the 70s.  A computer professional would probably smile at the informal way I associate this device to the mainframe era, but at that time it was an impressive technology only larger businesses could afford.

This IBM machine was known as the “Card-Programmed Electronic Calculators (CPC).  Mainframe computers would soon be followed by mini, micro and personal workstations also known as personal computers.

2. PC Era
IBM underestimated the fact that by the mid 90s, personal workstations would usher in Personal Computer that eventually would replace the typewriter.  Some of us probably remember the Commodore PET, the first successfully marketed personal computer introduced in 1977.   
The predecessor to IBM AS/400, System/38 was first made available in August 1979.  It was marketed as a minicomputer for general business and department use.  It was sold alongside three other product lines, each with a different architecture not compatible with each other.  Digital Equipment Corporation used this IBM weakness to expand.  Digital Equipment was acquired by Compaq in 1998 which then merged with Hewlett Packard in 2002.  In the meanwhile Paul Allen and Bill Gates had founded ”Micro-Soft,” the combination of microcomputer and software, which became a US$ 42 billion corporation.  
3. Internet era
Internet service provider (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s. CompuServe (my first email address) was a service provider founded in 1969.  CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States that became a leading worldwide internet service provider.  In 1998 CompuServe became a subsidiary of America Online Inc. (AOL).  Internet has become a global system of interconnected computer networks to serve billions of users worldwide.  Since its email commercial start, Internet technology has added: instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with services such as Skype, two ways interactive video calls and finally the World Wide Web including discussions forums, online shopping, blogs and more recently social networks.
4. Internet broadband and the World Wide Web era
Broadband Internet access or broadband is a high-speed internet access that replaced the awkward dial-up “modus operandi” some of us remember.  Dial-up bit rates varied from 33 to 64 kbit/s and required a telephone line.  Broadband started supplying higher bit rates with the crucial advantage of not disrupting regular phone lines.  It also provides a continuous “always on” connection.  Then came the World Wide Web, a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet.  Broadband supports a much faster World Wide Web browsing experience, faster downloading/uploading of information, video telephony, computing mobility with VPNs (virtual private networks) and online gaming experience. 
Next week, we will post the second half of this two-part series with the last three reasons why IT should become the technological beacon of a social enterprise 2.0 transformation.  In the meanwhile I wish you a very pleasant rest and a wonderful weekend. 
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How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 2)

My favorite book (The Bible) states: without vision people perish: what a true statement and without vision many companies disappear such as this old-fashioned German Drugstore outlets Schlecker struggling to find an angel investor before the end of this very month! It is sometimes sad to be able to predict that some businesses won’t be around within the next 3 to 5 years if they do not drastically change their Modus Operandi! Often companies are way too busy with “business as usual” while not spending enough time on strategy! “If you do not know where you are going you will most likely end up somewhere else”: an old adage we all know!

Today many SME (if they have not done it yet) should heavily consider creating a new responsibility, which could be something like a “Business Facilitator”: a savvy strategic thinker, who ties up four main challenges companies are facing today!  An all-around talent, visionary, influential, inspirational and above all motivational! Some would name it a CIO but may be it should be a bit more like a CBF (Chief Business Facilitator)?

I came across some quotes from CEO leaders not only talking but walking the leadership walk and embracing the turbulent changes our networked society is forcing upon us!  In the social enterprise people and culture are the two driving forces and building blocks our Business Facilitator will increasingly have to take into account:

1. Social Culture

Creating a “Culture Is Your Brand” philosophy à la Zappos and studying Tony Hsieh’s culture book would certainly be a very good start! Without enterprise culture it is going to be tricky to create motivated employees to positively and actively participate in social media communication!  How many companies out there still use Twitter as an “Inbound” marketing tool or a pricelist Email alternative? Painful! Check out the Marketing Master Coca-Cola Content 2020:  CEO Muhtar Kent thinks that marketing is getting more and more data driven and “Coca-Cola needs to be part of Digital Marketing and IT closer to customers”.

2. Content or Inbound Marketing

How does one keep patrons drinking coffee?  By providing WIFI in all Starbuck outlets so that both business people and Twitter addicts may connect to their favorite social media accounts while sipping on their preferred coffee specialty. Or by starting a monthly campaign such as: “Global Month of Service”! How about letting customer pay in its U.S. stores with a smartphone app tied to their loyalty and payment cards? Social is important to Starbuck providing its Facebook fan page with an online suggestion box while letting fans send gift cards! Being sociable seems to be “a must” for Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz who is also upgrading his IT Infrastructure for point of sales inventory management, CRM and Labor Scheduling tools!  Desktop Virtualization is also a hot trends IT department are implementing in order to accommodate BYOD and the commercialization of smart phones and tablets.

3. Social Business

Social Media is constantly changing and the first three most visited platforms in March 2012 were Facebook, Twitter and surprisingly Pinterest overtaking layout-old-fashioned “veteran” LinkedIn! It is now impossible to do business without making Social Media full part of a Marketing Strategy: And this involves a lot more than sticking a Facebook and Twitter logo on a website!  Videos themselves are becoming an integral part of the social media portfolio and if you have not yet seen the 2012 Cartier Video, I recommend you watch it! To this day it has been viewed 14.586.933 times! Airlines are also beginning to use videos such as: “KLM Surprise” and “Air China in Sweden” as well the outstanding Mini Getaway Stockholm Case Study, which already took place a year ago in Sweden! Some funny campaigns also involving an entertaining “Dollar Shave Club” and the Guinness St Patrick’s Day Commercial 2012!

4. Modernize IT infrastructure and move to the cloud while embracing mobility

Legacy systems may sometimes be responsible for slowing down technology growth and we all know mobility demand is on the rise: it is now time to reconsider a more focused cloud outlook!  Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock has understood Lowe’s need to zero in on modernizing IT infrastructure with faster internet connections and deploying a gigantic action to equip store personnel with 42.000 IPhones. He also recognizes the challenge of a multi channel strategy while planning to equip both call centers and retail outlets with better access to company’s 250.000 products, customers’ accounts as well as being able to close sales on Iphones! TJX’s CEO Carol Meyrowitz has similar priorities with a multi channel strategy: “We continue wanting to marry shop and web since Ecommerce gives TJX the opportunity to sell things, which are not carried in the physical shops”. Procter & Gamble’s CEO Bob Mc Donald plans to move accounting from traditional responsibilities to operational: “accounting systems aren’t designed today for operations–they tend to look backward–but we’re working on integrating our operational system with the financial system to move in that direction.”

The Business Facilitator’s challenge is immense but one thing is for sure silos have to be dismantled: Over are the days were company departments could allow themselves to work “independently” as a block almost against each other! Time has come to transform our work environment into a social networked place following the example of Apple and Starbucks with their IT helpdesk coffee shop allowing employees to choose IT smart phone & Tablet on display and directly bill them to their departments as well as technical support and suggestion on how to make IT run better!