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8 Ways to Bring Out the Social Side of IT

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 17, 2014

IT people are often perceived as the tech gurus who are working heads-down in the data center or server rooms. But today's business environment demands that IT staff mix and mingle with the business. And, fortunately, technology makes this collaboration possible.

IT industry maven Vala Afshar, as part of his ongoing “CXO” series of interviews, recently interviewed what he considers to be “one of the most collaborative and social CIOs in the world,” Oliver Bussmann, group CIO of UBS. Bussmann, who has almost 25 years of experience in the business of IT, responsible for managing an 8,000-employee IT organization, explained his philosophy and techniques for bringing out the social side of IT leaders.

Here are some words of advice Bussmann passed on in the discussion:

1) Develop a very strong partnership with the business. Bussmann sees himself as a catalyst to driving “a very cooperative and collaborative relationship between the business and IT, and ensure that IT is seen as a strategic business function by focusing on being compliant to the business.”

Bussmann makes it a point to take time to understand business strategies, and the role IT can play. Make IT a “trusted partner,” and find people on the business side who “are excited about one topic,” and invest resources in that area of interest.

2) Develop plans and help enable the business. UBS “has embedded digital teams in the lines of business” to ensure that as they look at digital business transformation key topics are addressed: 'Where will our business be in the future?, How will customer expectations change at that time?, How will our business model look in 10-20 years from now?'”

3) Interact with venture capital firms to gain an understanding of what's going on in the start-up community and to discover the probability of trends coming through.

4) Build a strong information technology communication framework. Understand what expectations the business has from IT.

5) Build internal social relationships. Bussmann relies on internal social media platforms to stay connected with his IT organization of 8,000 employees, “From blogging, to video chat, to coffee conversations and everything in between, Bussmann makes himself available by selecting the best communication channel to get the message across.”

6) Measure success. This means more than traditional IT metrics, says Bussmann. “To me, success is when the organization generates a lot of innovation ideas that you start to explore."

7) Be open and available for ideas and feedback. “As CIO, it's important to share your experience outside and this will also come back into your organization," says Bussmann.

8) Be active on Twitter and LinkedIn. “At the end, it's a give and take — you learn and get a lot of information from your network and you share information and your views,” Bussmann says.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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