Facebook and Twitter: One CIO's drive to open up to social media

Interview: Co-op Financial Services' Jim Slack discusses the benefits of social media on the brand...

Jim Slack: Social media is providing the means for the customer to drive organisational behaviour

Jim Slack: Social media is providing the means for the customer to drive organisational behaviourPhoto: Co-operative Financial Services

The finance sector is famously behind in the use of social media. Co-operative Financial Services IT chief Jim Slack aims to change that situation, as Mark Samuels reports.

Financial services firms are probably not the first type of business you would think of when it comes to the adoption of social media. In fact, they might be the last.

silicon.com recently reported the suggestion that case law from 1924 prevents finance companies from publicly identifying an individual who has an account with them, which makes responding to customer queries via social media a potential legal minefield.

Other reports regularly suggest banking CIOs have been slow to adopt social media. But Jim Slack, the business leader of IT operations and development at Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), is encouraging his organisation to take a different stance.

Finance institutions have traditionally taken a tough line on collaborative tools. CFS is no different in that respect to other firms in the sector, and Slack says social media access in the past has been restricted. But transformation is on the agenda.

"Social media is a step change," says Slack. "It's providing the means for the customer to drive organisational behaviour. The way people can react to, and interact with, your business is so powerful."

Facebook and Twitter for consumer interaction

Slack refers to the broad range of tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, that consumers can now use to communicate with an organisation. The potential impact on a brand can be significant.

As a result, Slack says his bank is increasingly all ears across multiple social channels. "One complaint on one blog can potentially reach millions of people. If you're not listening, you'll get left behind," he says.

Slack also believes the chance to listen to customers provides a wonderful opportunity for financial services organisations. Unlike some of his peers across other areas of banking and insurance, the connected CIO believes...