How CEOs are responding to social media trends, key recommendations from IBM 2012 Report


“Building talent and culture will have the most significant, longest-lasting impact on an organization-more so than any other activity a CEO can do.” John R. Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO, Prudential Financial

According to IBM report based on study of 1,700 CEOs in 64 countries there are important shift in companies strategies due to the trends in social media. One of the most important issues influencing the strategic business decision in every company is the overflow of data and information. This overflow shifts CEOs vision beyond common practice of strategic approach and forces to consider the recent advances in social media and analytics in order to reimagine connections among people, i.e. customers, employees, partners, investors etc.

This shift stipulates the major change in companys’ strategy, structure and culture encouraging for more open cultures and embracing the most disruptive forms of new innovation.

There are many external forces impacting organisations and for the first time since 2004 when the CEO Study series began, technology tops the list of external forces impacting organisations. Furthermore, over the next 3 to 5 years, technology will be the main driving force in organizational change.

“The biggest risk we face is technological. If we fail to anticipate a huge technology step, we might go out of business”.


It is obvious that organisations face the invreased influence and dependence on technology. To ‘store big data’ is the main function technology helps organisations with. However, social media tools is another part of technological trend that reveals the ways how people engage with the organization and with each other. Therefore, CEOs now see technology as an enabler of collaboration and relationships – essential connections for creativity and innovation.

As seen from the chart, technology fundamentally affects every source of organization’s sustained economic value – human resources, customer relationships and innovation. Thus, it changes organizational composition, structure and span of control.

Key Findings

 (1) CEOs have a new strategy for attracting talent: 75% of CEOs consider collaboration as a critical trait in creation of an open culture. It enables employees to connect, learn from each other and thrive in a world of rapid change.

(2) CEOs are building analytical muscle to respond with relevance and immediacy in order to engage customers as individuals: over 70% of CEOs are investing in customer insights for better understanding of customer needs. Social Media is an integral part of engaging customers, as over 50% of CEOs expect social channels to be a primary way within 5 years.

(3) Radical Innovation is required and will be achieved through extensive partnering: Organizations are partnering to meet the challenge of innovation. More successful companies, outperformers, are more likely to be moving into other industries rather than creating new products of performing more efficient operations.

Key recommendations

(1) Empowering employees through values. The special environment should be created for ideas to thrive. The risk is present as well, however, only strong sense of purpose and shared beliefs will guide decision-making within organisation. It is vital to unlock human resources potential through empowered employees to free-flowing ideas to more creativity and innovation to happier customers to better results.

(2) Engaging customers as individuals. The need of stronger analytics capabilities to uncover patterns of every customer, that never questioned before, is the new trend to gain more customer knowledge. Organizations must be ready to engage in the context of the moment as a response to an increasing mobility of the customers.

(3) Amplifying innovation with partnerships. More integrated relationships that enable collaborative environment and data share, are important in order to overcome complexity and competition. CEOs need to encourage intentionally disruptive thinking introducing unexpected partners as a response to new external catalysts.