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  • A new IBM study of more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide reveals that 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.

    The advantages of the fast-moving trend are clear. According to the IBM CEO study, 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.  Outperformers are 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.

    To forge closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs will 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. 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.

    While it appears clear that more and more CEOs are recognizing the potential for social media to change how their companies and organizations can communicate with the world, it is also interesting to understand how.

    “One of the most compelling findings [of the survey] is how in tune CEOs are about the implications and impact of social media,” stated Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, in the press release of the study. “Rather than repeating the familiar lament about de-personalizing human relationships, this view leans heavily in favor of deepening them, and using dynamic social networks to harness collective intelligence to unlock new models of collaboration.”

    Personalizing these relationships with customers is the top priority for these CEOs. Nearly three-quarters of those polled (73%) are investing significantly in ways to better gain meaningful insights from their customers. Openness and interaction — not just advertising — on social media sites just might be at the heart of this more individualized interaction.

    As one CEO interviewee put it, the idea is to use social media as a crowd-sourcing mechanism and means of collaboration:

    “We use social media less as a marketing or distribution channel and more as a knowledge platform to obtain information about customers,” said an insurance CEO from Switzerland.

    So, what does all of this mean? With a stronger presence on social media sites and more personalized interactions with customers on these channels, “control is shifting from institutions to individuals,” the report stated.

    It also appears to indicate that social media is being seen as another means of communicating and interacting with consumers (both outgoing and incoming), rather than being a direct business generator.  The belief (and hope?) is that this social interaction will lead ultimately to stronger customer relations that should increase the odds of doing more business.  Time will tell.

    Read the full IBM news release

    This change reflects an acceptance that a customer-centric approach is becoming more important since the media world is more driven by customers through social media-type platforms these days than by the companies themselves.  Understanding how this works and how this can be leveraged is critical to maintaining a sustainable business into the future.

    If you feel your company is ready for this level of sophistication in your business process, contact us now to find out how that can be accomplished…

    Neville Pokroy from the marketing company Mastermind Solutions consults in the areas of strategic marketing planning, as well as in the development and execution of marketing strategies and plans. He assists companies who require marketing expertise to plan and fully execute marketing programs.   He helps them make good choices, particularly with regard to the emerging technologies.  If you want to have more choice in marketing your business, set yourself apart, and increase the odds of generating additional revenue for your business, call (905)886-2235, email: neville@mastermindsolutions.ca or visit our website.  Please follow me on Twitter: @smaaketer