Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

New IBM CEO Study — Command & Control Meets Collaboration

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Just because I’m here in Madrid covering the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit doesn’t mean that there isn’t other important news emerging from back at the mother ship.

This year’s IBM CEO study reveals three new essential imperatives for changing the nature of business: Empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals, and amplifying innovation with partnerships.

In fact, there’s some major news that I always get excited to report on, and that’s the results from our annual CEO study.

The ink on the report is hardly dry and straight off the presses, but this year’s study of more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries has a headline that CEOs (and their C-level ilk) everywhere may be interested to hear: CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a headline!

The study reveals that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

For those of us who have been working in the social realm for some time now, we’re probably not exactly surprised to hear this news.  But to have it come from the lips and pencils of the CEOs themselves…well, change it is a comin’ and for many, has already arrived.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement.

Today, only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Top Down To Bottom Up

With this news coming after decades of top-down control, this shift has substantial ramifications — not just for CEOs — but for their organizations, their managers and employees, and also for universities and business schools, not to mention we technology suppliers.

More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.

Of course, greater openness doesn’t come without some risks.  Openness increases vulnerability. The Internet — especially through social networks — can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organizations’ values and mission.

This also means organizations must equip employees with a set of guiding principles that they can use to empower everyday decision making. And championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study’s findings, business executives are interested in leading by example.

That is, from the front.

Big Data Means Big Changes

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognize the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites.

The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

This latest study is the fifth edition of IBM’s biennial Global CEO Study series.  To better understand the challenges and goals of today’s CEOs, IBM consultants met face-to-face with the largest-known sample of these executives between September 2011 and January 2012.

1,709 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector leaders were interviewed around the world to better understand their future plans and challenges in an increasingly connected economy.

For access to the full study findings and case studies, please visit the IBM CEO Study website.

In the meantime, check out the video from Shell CEO Peter Voser to hear what he has to say about partnering to drive innovation.

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