May 25, 2012, 7:13 AM — IBM says a study it did of some 1,700 Chief Executive Officers worldwide found that many indeed - or should be -- grasping social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation.
According to the IBM CEO study, the companies that outperform their peers are 30% more likely to identify what IBM called "openness" as a key way to influence the growth of their organization. Openess in the IBM lexicon means embracing social media and better use of collaboration. The idea is to a certain extent to "tap into the collective intelligence of an organization to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth," IBM stated.
Some of the interesting items in the IBM CEO survey included:
• 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% of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57% 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 No. 2 organizational engagement method within the next five years.
• More than half of CEOs (53%) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52% are shifting their attention to promoting internal collaboration.
• Greater openness is not without 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 organization's values and mission. Championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study findings, the business executives are interested in leading by example.
• CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75%), communication (67%), creativity (61%) and flexibility (61%) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.
• The trend toward greater collaboration extends beyond the corporation to external partnering relationships. Partnering is now at an all-time high. In 2008, slightly more than half of the CEOs IBM interviewed planned to partner extensively. Now, more than two-thirds intend to do so, IBM said.