The New IT Revolution is a Social IT Revolution

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Responding instantly in today’s business means having a social business strategy that aligns with the corporate business strategy and the information systems strategy.  Building a social business strategy cannot take place without the involvement of IT leaders if enterprise leaders expect to get the most value from their investments.  But that means IT leaders must prepare for the eminent social business revolution.  As Pulitzer-Prize winning author and NY Times columnist  Thomas L. Friedman recently wrote, the new IT revolution is a social IT revolution.

IT Leaders may want to take note of his recent OpEd piece which compared the social revolution happening on Wall Street with another type of social revolution happening in Silicon Valley. To quote Friedman,

“It is the biggest leap forward in the I.T. revolution since the mainframe computer was replaced by desktops and the Web. It is going to change everything about how companies and societies operate.”

Friedman reports that the drivers of this revolution are the convergence of social media, cheap wireless connectivity, web-enabled smart phones, and the cloud. He particularly points out that the cloud is responsible for speeding up everything from innovation, to product cycles and competition since it allows anyone (read that as IT Leaders and their business partners) to ‘have the computing resources of Google and rent it by the hour.’

As we think about the social IT revolution now taking place, we have a number of voices speaking up about what it means.  I particularly liked the acronym shared by Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com:

S is for speed
O is for open
C is for collaboration
I is for individuals
A is for alignment
L is for leadership

This acronym is particularly useful for IT leaders, as it highlights some key systems characteristics: speed, open, collaborative, and some organizational characteristics: aligned, individually-focused, and the need for leadership (which is the vision of how it will align with the business objectives).

Benioff paints the vision for the social enterprise in several recent personal apperances. In a talk he gave for Dreamforce in August 2011, Benioff suggests that listening to the customer and the employee is at the heart of the social revolution. The CEO who doesn’t grasp this, does so at his or her own peril. Further, Benioff shares his observations about the subtleness of the emergence of this the revolution  in another talk.

Friedman concludes with a quote from the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner,

“The great thing about the new IT revolution is that it makes it easier and cheaper than ever for anyone anywhere to be an entrepreneur and to have access to all the best infrastructure of innovation. And despite all of our challenges, it’s happening here in America.”

What does this mean for IT Leaders? Dion Hinchcliffe nicely lays out the impact for IT leaders in a recent blog. In it he shares the Salesforce.com vision of a social layer on top of the applications and data layer.  

This implies that IT organizations, and those that lead them, are part of the revolution to transform their enterprise into a social business.  IT leaders may not be the ones to ‘own’ the social applications use in the business. Like all other uses of IT in the business, the business leader must be on board and at least jointly take ownership of the business impact and expected results.  But certainly IT leaders must be more than order-takers in this discussion of transformation. Technology decisions affect both the opportunities and limitations of future business decisions. After all, social IT must still work with the overall corporate enterprise architecture, conform to corporate standards of security, and integrate with the other organizational applications.  This transformation won’t be quick and it may not be painless, but it’s critical…the revolution is upon us.

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One Response to “The New IT Revolution is a Social IT Revolution”

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[…] business…using social tools to collaborate, engage, innovate and run your business differently.  We’ve addressed the IT leaders’s role in leading social business.  But the blog I found this week was really eye […]


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