Social networks blur CIOs' work and outside lives

Social media gets personal for CIOs...

CIOs need to lead the debate about social media

CIOs need to lead the debate about social mediaPhoto: Shutterstock

The consumerisation of IT is pushing social media onto the business agenda and blurring links between CIOs and their external lives. Mark Samuels reports.

JLT Group CIO Ian Cohen is a social media fan who has encouraging words for IT leaders wondering how to straddle the gap between personal and business identities to make the most of online collaboration tools.

"Try it," Cohen said. "Give it a go, based on the type of things that interest you. The CIO needs to lead the debate on social media for the chief executive, so it makes sense to develop your position." Finance CIO Cohen is a prolific user of social media, tweeting about business, football and music from his @coe62 account.

He is also a fan of LinkedIn and Facebook, and has taken steps to test enterprise-ready social tools behind the JLT firewall. When it comes to the divide between business and personal life on social media, Cohen suggests the links between work and external lives are blurring at an executive level.

"I don't get the opportunity to have a separation between the two," he said. "I have a blurred life that I have to live to the best of my ability. I don't have the time to split personal and business personas; life doesn't work like that."

While other executives might choose to have different profiles for particular elements of their personal or business persona, Cohen has just one Twitter profile. He recognises that such an all-in approach will not be suitable for everyone. So he encourages CIOs to adjust the use of social tools to meet specific business aims.

Clear business benefits of social media

It is a sentiment that finds agreement with Dean Branton, director of customer operations and group CIO at telecoms specialist Kcom. Branton said he would not describe himself as a heavy user of social media but he remains a strong advocate and believes he can see clear business benefits.

At a personal level, Branton uses LinkedIn and Facebook, and also contributes to various industry forums and blog discussions. Like Cohen, Branton believes it is increasingly difficult to...

By Mark Samuels

Mark Samuels is a business journalist and editor at IT leadership organisation CIO Connect. He has written for various organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Guardian Government Computing and Times Higher Education.