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Benefits Of Being A Social CIO

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For many business executives, including CIOs and CMOs, the ability to clearly articulate the benefits of actively using social networks is still a challenge. All the industry data points to a generation of business professionals who are more mobile and social and yet so many executives are still ignoring the power, and the benefits, of social collaboration. A recent survey found that 68% of CEOs have no presence on social media.

In an effort to better understand the benefits of social collaboration, I invited Phil Komarny, CIO of Seton Hill University, to share his point of view. Komarny is one of the most social CIOs in the world and a recent recipient of the Top 100 CIOs award for innovation.


"When I began using Twitter on 2011 I was just like every new egghead user. I had no idea how this new medium would enhance my ability to excel at my profession. I must say I was more than a little skeptical. I am proud to admit that I was wrong," said Phil Komarny.

Komarny shares the direct personal and business benefits of being social CIO:

The pulse of the industry - Build your Personal Learning Network (PLN)
If you are using Google to research emerging trends in your industry, then every single twitter user has an advantage over you. Within social networks, news and information moves at the pace of innovation. By building a personal learning network (PLN) of like-minded (better yet, not so like-minded) colleagues you will extend your vision into a wealth of recommended information on just about any topic you wish to research.

Turbo charging up your curiosity engine
One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received came from Mr. Rogers. Be Curious. I learn by being curious about things. That's been my learning style for my whole life, so Twitter fits right into my mode of learning. This medium gives me the ability to search out information, engage with colleagues (or complete strangers), and ultimately create relationships. Curiosity might have killed the cat but it is fostered by a little blue bird.

Leveling the playing field
I work for a small liberal arts university in rural Pennsylvania. My ability to participate in the conversations at the highest levels in my industry was limited by the size of my organization and by geography. To fly from Pittsburgh to almost anywhere in this country is trying at best. By engaging on Twitter I can have the same access to industry leaders that my colleagues in much bigger institutions enjoy.

Every get, starts with a give
We have all heard the phrase, you get what you give, and in the world of social media that phrase takes on a much more weighty meaning. Go ahead, prove me right, create a twitter account and follow 100 or so people. Just read, don't interact. You will receive some benefits but the true value in this medium comes by giving. Freely sharing your views and beliefs adds value to your network, and in turn your network will repay you 100 times over with different contexts, opinions, and advice.

More time to be 'human'
Being connected via a mobile device, for me it is an iPhone or iPad, gives me the ability to make the most of those wasted moments in my day. I can jump into the 'flow' whenever I have a few moments. These 'flow moments' add up over time and give me pause at the end of a busy day to enjoy my life, to enjoy being human. When people approach me saying that social media will be the end of 'personal' contact I always disagree. I argue that it is the exact opposite.

Becoming a social reader - it's a knowledge multiplier!
Before twitter I may have read 2-4 articles a day on different aspects of the industry. I would search out information in the conventional ways, from the web to trade magazines. After I built about 1000 users into my PLN, all I do is open twitter and start reading. Due to this my consumption of info has increased tenfold. More importantly I am able to engage with thought leaders, colleagues and friends about the reading in almost real time. This adds additional insights from varying contexts, some of which would not be visible without this social reading component. Ultimately adding depth and additional value to every article I read, and multiplying the knowledge that take away.

Death to email
If you receive 1000 messages a day you are well aware of the inefficiencies of email. Spam, spam, and more spam. Not the spam that Gmail regularly deals with and categorizes as 'spam' for me daily (~150/day), I'm talking about the unsolicited email from vendors, sales people and others. By using the Direct Message feature on Twitter I can only receive messages from people that I have a vetted relationship with. You would not believe how a short, 140 character message always suffices. There is need for a TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read) function in Twitter world. To stay in the flow, everything has to be succinct and to the point.

Phil Komarny and many more CIOs are staying relevant because they are willing to invest in their network. They are actively using social networks to teach and be taught. Remember, you're not influential, unless you're helpful. Social networks can scale and amplify your message, and if the message is helpful, you will gain relevancy. A great reminder and lessons from a super smart, highly engaged, and extremely relevant CIO.

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