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What are CIOs thinking? What we can learn from social media conversations

Social media is being used more and more in business for a variety of purposes. SSQ recently did a series of articles on the use of social media in ALM and

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found that it is used both within organizations to foster collaboration as well as a way to connect externally with customers and find out more about what they think of their organization’s product or service. How about to get some insights into what a particular group, such as CIOs, are thinking? Well, Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services, recently listened in on CIOs having conversations at the virtual water coolers and created an article called, "Logicalis Spills CIO Social Secrets: Last Year’s Top Buzzwords." C-level managers, vendors and technologists will be interested in finding out what results were revealed and we’ll hear directly from one CEO to hear what he thinks of the results.

The top 10 IT buzzwords

According to the Logicalis report the top 10 buzzwords were as follows:

  1. IT Managed Services 
  2. Cloud 
  3. Social Networking 
  4. SaaS 
  5. IT Workplace Issues 
  6. IT Governance 
  7. Compliance 
  8. ERP 
  9. Outsourcing 
  10. Virtual desktop 

The study

I spoke with Lisa Dreher, VP of marketing at Logicalis, in order to understand more about how the data was gathered and what was learned from the results. My initial thought was that the data was all gathered from Twitter, but it turns out Spiderfly, a social media monitoring tool, was used in order to create a conglomeration of social conversations by searching LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites and really any place online conversations are happening.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical that the number one “buzzword” turned out to be IT managed services, when that is the industry in which Logicalis specializes. I wondered if the conversations they were monitoring were those from potential clients. However, Dreher assured me the only target for their study were CIOs and CTOs and they were not focused on a particular domain area or grouping other than role.

When I asked more about exactly what was being said about, for example, IT managed services, the answer was a variety of things such as what the author’s company offered, what various providers are offering, or advice on what to look for in a provider.

I asked Dreher if readers of the report were surprised by the results. She said that some were surprised by the list, but felt that there could be different interpretations because of the use of terminology.

She says, “When you look at social media conversations, you do have to consider what definitions people are using. That's not always 100% clear because we have a lot of technology terms that are used interchangeably.”

What about portfolio management?

Alex Adamopoulos, CEO of emergn, an international PPM and Agile consultancy, has recently written his own article, 5 Reasons Project Portfolio Management Will Matter to CIOs in 2012. When asked what he thought of the Logicalis report, Adamopoulos answers:

None of the 10 items on their report are new and I believe they were all important in 2011 as well. I'm surprised that portfolio management isn't in the top five - this just shows that the thinking is still split. In fact #7 says that IT governance ensures that IT is aligned with business strategies and objectives - is this really true? Is it IT governance that ensures this alignment or is it a new conversation on how IT collapses the wall and becomes part of the business process itself vs. being just IT and receiving the handoffs. I believe the opportunity in 2012 is for CIOs and IT execs to become part of the organization from the starting point of idea management and not the recipient downstream. In such a technology driven economy, it is still surprising how many IT organizations are not becoming more integrated with the business but are assuming that the boundaries are the way it should be. Perhaps it is too simplistic or even wishful to say, but I see portfolio management as one area that could radically change this alignment saga and actually begin to solve it. We've seen one client completely do away with the notion of IT and had essentially made IT a member of the business unit so they all approach ideas and projects from the same starting point.”

The biggest surprise from the Logicalis study

Interestingly, it’s the growing trend toward IT’s interest in the business that Dreher noted was the biggest surprise that came from the survey. She says:

We're finding that the IT leaders are a lot more broadly focused across the business instead of just focusing on IT. This is a study we've done for the past few years. They’re less than 100% focused on technology. Certainly technology topics are in there and always will be, but there are also a lot of topics around more broad business issues or opportunities. That trend is continuing to grow. It's clear that IT is going beyond the IT realm. They're very much more focused on the business as a whole.”

So while it isn’t clear by just looking at the buzzwords, both Adamopoulos and Dreher report there is a growing interest that CIOs have in the integration and collaboration between business and IT.

Can we really find out what CIOs are thinking from social media?

At face value we see two different reports about the topics that are on the minds of CIOs with seemingly little or no overlap, but when we drill down, we find out that both Dreher and Adamopoulos point out the growing trend towards IT and business collaboration. This highlights the importance of digging a little deeper and not depending solely on social media to get answers.

Dreher says:

Social media conversations are really interesting and they are definitely a point of contact worth looking at. In general, I don't use [social media] as the be all, end all. I use it as one point of data. We use a number of different research methods. Some of those are primary; speaking directly to the folks we're interested in learning more about and in some cases looking at analyst data. We look at the data from a lot of different perspectives so we can get a realistic view of what's really happening out there.

What do you think is top in the minds of CIOs? Send your response to yfrancino@techtarget.com.

This was first published in February 2012

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