Social Enterprise

Twitter: The CIO's new best friend - or chocolate teapot?

CIO Jury: The vote is in…

Twitter may have doubled its user numbers last month but CIOs are split over whether or not the microblogging service makes a useful business tool.

In the latest silicon.com CIO Jury, seven out of the 12 members said they are currently using Twitter for information, for networking or for other business-related purposes.

While some CIOs are simply using the site for personal updates - or "messing about", as one IT chief put it, many others are using Twitter to promote their companies or share information on the business.

Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Group said the van maker is using Twitter to keep its geographically dispersed workforce up to date with changes affecting the company.

For Spencer Steel, IT manager at job website Informatiq Consulting, there's no option but to use the site.

"As recruitment specialists, not being on Twitter at the moment is slightly insane. From our point of view, one of the big attractions of Twitter is the self-management of the audience. Good quality Tweets containing news or new jobs for groups of relevant candidates will ensure that the right people come to you soon enough or leave if they are unimpressed. Revenue streams have yet to be proven, but overheads and time spent Twittering are relatively low," he said.

Fellow recruiter Michael Page is also using Twitter, although to a limited degree.

Andrew Wayland, its CIO, said: "Twitter is another means of communication where already many exist. It may work for niche areas or indeed a certain type of individual, but it's not something we are currently pushing across our entire business although there is some limited use...

"Corporate use of Twitter needs some internal rules to manage risks, whilst at the same time supporting the inherent dynamic nature of the communication. In terms of recruitment, if Twitter helps your organisation cut through and appeal to the people you want to work for you, it could potentially help you hire smart and communicate your values effectively. "

Despite being a Twitter user himself, Ben Acheson, IT manager at PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery, has some reservations about the service.

"I think most organisations would be wasting their time. Nobody would really be listening to their message. I think if any organisation launched a campaign to make people interested in what they were saying on Twitter and then actually started saying some interesting, radical things, then Twitter might work for them [but] nobody really cares if Bloggs Boxes has started making a different size of cardboard box," he said.

Others questioned whether Twitter is a long term proposition.

Informatiq's Steel said: "Give it a couple of years and it will be a passé as Friends Reunited."

This CIO Jury was:

  • Ben Acheson, IT manager at PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery
  • Mark Beattie, head of information technology, London Waste
  • Graham Benson, IT Director, M and M Direct
  • Richard Hodkinson, group IT & operations director, Irwin Mitchell
  • Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Group
  • Andrew Wayland, CIO, Michael Page
  • Peter Pedersen, chief technology officer, Figleaves.com
  • David Pirie, group IT director, BCA
  • Jacques René, CIO, Ascend
  • Spencer Steel, IT manager, Informatiq Consulting
  • Richard Storey, head of IT, Guys & St Thomas Hospital
  • David Supple, head of IT and creative services, Ecotec Research and Consulting

Want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com

About Jo Best

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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