What Are the CIO’s Challenges in the Social Media and Mobile Era?

Elaboration 2014 9 Pages

Communications - Multimedia, Internet, New Technologies


Table of contents


1. About “The Evolving Role of the CIO” by Ross & Feeny and the social media era

2. Forces influencing the role of the CIO – the social media era
2.1. Social media era - executive attitudes
2.2. Social media era - supplier
2.3. Social media era – applications

3. Social media era - the impact on the CIO
3.1. CIO job descriptions




No other C-level position had so many changes in the last years and decades as the CIO (sopinion8ed.wordpress.com). New technologies are arising and it is more important than ever before for the CIO to realize opportunities in time and communicate these to other respective executives. This paper will have a closer look into social media and its opportunities and challenges for the role of the CIO. In order to do so, the model of Ross and Feeny (1999) is going to be applied on the “social media era”.

1. About “The Evolving Role of the CIO” by Ross & Feeny and the social media era

Ross and Feeny (1999) are investigating the evolution of the CIO role. In their paper a model is presented which is supposed to support their examination. This model proposes three forces which are linked to broader changes in in the CIO role. These three forces,

1) existing and planned applications of technology in the organization,
2) attitudes of senior executives toward technology and
3) characteristics of dominant vendors

do influence the role of the CIO in different eras. However, a successful CIO is not a passive element within an organization. A CIO does influence the forces as well by relationship building and education (executives), by working with dominant suppliers and by managing respective application portfolio within the organization. (Ross and Feeny 1999)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Forces influencing the CIO Role (according to Ross and Feeny 1999)

Nevertheless, IT has already run through several technical eras (Ross and Feeny 1999). These eras cover the 1960s to the 1980s (mainframe era) with IBM as the main supplier for products and services, the late 1970s (distributed era) with the launch of personal computers and networks and the era from the mid-1990s on (web-based era) with the rise of the internet. In their article, Ross and Feeny do apply the model to the different technological eras in order to find out whether and how respective forces changed from one era to the next era and how these changes influenced the role of CIO. (Ross and Feeny 1999)

However, as this article is from 1999 a new era new era might be evolved. It can be described as social media and mobile technology era. Social media is an “integral part of a company’s overall strategy. Whether a business is large or small, its overall success will be partly owed to its success within social media.” (Qualman 2013) One prominent example for the power of social media is the “Fiesta movement” in which Ford gave digital influencers the chance for six months to promote Ford’s new car via blogs, videos and posts without doing marketing on traditional marketing channels. The result of this campaign was astonishing since there was huge awareness rate of this new product and many new potential customers, which haven’t owned a Ford yet, could be interested. (Mashable 2009) Nonetheless, as company’s spending regarding social media seems to further increase and the strategically importance of this technology for the competiveness of respective enterprises might gain the following part of this paper should apply the three forces of Ross and Feeny (1999) to social media. The goal is to figure out whether and how social media influences the role of a CIO and which challenges a CIO is facing due to social media.

2. Forces influencing the role of the CIO – the social media era

2.1. Social media era - executive attitudes

With the success of projects such as the “fiesta movement” it can be assumed that social media is seen more and more not only as competitive advantage but rather as an importance gaining marketing channel for modern companies. A survey of BITKOM, a German organization for information and telecommunication technology, states that by 2012 almost half of the companies with employees over 500 are currently using social media and further ten percent of these companies are planning to establish social media (BITKOM 2012). These ten percent imply that management and executives do have future plans for further focus on social media. BITKOM’s survey underlines this by stating that 89 % of the big companies believe that social media importance would further increase for enterprises in general (BITKOM 2012). Hence, social media opportunities have attention in boards and furthermore, executives do provide resources in order to evolve “social business” and to further support the development towards marketing via social media (P. Candace Deans).

2.2. Social media era - supplier

There are internal and external social media applications. In the following, applications and supplier will be used synonymously as in the social media era dominant vendors are the supplier of respective applications at the same time.

Internal applications “include employee-facing applications, such as employee social media networks...” (P. Candace Deans) External applications are customer facing and business partner applications which may involve marketing. This distinction is crucial as implementations - referring to marketing - are in the responsibility of the CMO. Employee social media networks on the other hand are applications in CIO responsibility. (P. Candace Deans) Nevertheless, there is a huge variety of social media applications out there. Brian Solis, an American author and research firm principal, has created The Conversation Prism which is an infographic about different social media categories and applications (see attachment). However, the majority of these well-known social media applications can be categorized as external applications.



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The Evolving Role of the CIO Ross & Feeny Ross Feeny challenges CIO social media mobile era Information Systems research Wirtschaftsinformatik



Title: What Are the CIO’s Challenges in the Social Media and Mobile Era?