Social Enterprise

Twitter: Marmite for CIOs?

CIO Jury: "The human brain is incapable of understanding the career implications of electronic communications prior to the send button being pressed"...

When it comes to CIOs, could Twitter be the technology equivalent of Marmite?

CIOs have revealed some very strong feelings about Twitter. For some tech chiefs, Twitter is vacuous and frighteningly inane, with users at risk of sending messages when they are "not at the peak of their sentience".

For others, it's a good source of information and a great way of cutting out the flowery sales pitches.

When asked the question, 'Should CIOs be active on Twitter?','s CIO Jury panel of top UK IT chiefs said 'yes' by a margin of eight to four - but many of the CIOs also wanted to share their opinions about the 140-character microblogging service.

Peter Birley, director of IT and business operations at Browne Jacobson, said: "I tweet and I believe that Twitter, used as a business tool, is a great medium for information that can be useful to the CIO, including tracking suppliers, clients etc, and is also a great tool for reaching out for information. It is, of course, only one route and there is a danger of information overload but it certainly should be on the CIO's radar."

Meanwhile, Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO of Sodexo Northern Europe, said: "It depends on what works within a company. If Twitter is a medium the company uses then a CIO should embrace it to share his or her messages." Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management, believes "140 characters is a great way to get to the point without all the flowery sales pitch".

Is Twitter a waste of time?

CIO opinions on Twitter are polarised between those who view it as waste of time and those who consider it a business tool
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Graham Benson, IT director at MandMDirect, warned: "Care needs to be exercised in its use - as seen recently in the sporting and entertainment world. We need to decide what we are trying to achieve by the use of Twitter. If it is for our own colleagues, keep it casual but informative; if it is oriented as a sort of real-time generic IT blog, it needs to be less company-specific and more industry-related; and if it is used as a social tool, make it restricted viewing by invitation only, otherwise you might get into trouble."

But not all CIOs were so positive about microblogging. Steve Clarke, systems and operations director at TalkTalk Group, said: "Twitter, for the most part, is about banality and when you've got something important to say there are more appropriate mediums."

Paul Haley, director of IT at the University of Aberdeen, sounded a note of caution: "I believe there is an increasing need for circumspection with regard to the use of social-networking technologies by individuals acting within their professional roles.

"It's common knowledge that the human brain is incapable of understanding the career implications of electronic communications prior to the send button being pressed. The omnipresence of the mobile phone or PDA and the ease with which messages may be transmitted increase the likelihood of such missives being sent at a time during which the sender may not be operating at the peak of his or her sentience."

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi, said...


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of

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