Yet watching Bussmann in action, one does wonder where the technology ends and the CIO begins. Asked how many mobile devices he carries, he takes a moment to run the count before answering. “A lot” is the easiest honest response. An iPad device is the most visible, but it’s hardly the only one on his person. He can produce iOs, Android, Windows, and RIM devices as deftly as a stage magician can pull countless cards, coins, and scarves impossibly from pockets and sleeves.
Certainly, no CIO worth his salt will be far from the latest gadgets. But Bussmann is not a boy with toys who hopes to elicit tech envy from his peers.
Constantly citing what he calls the “consumerization of IT,” Bussmann notes that a productive business must give employees the freedom to use whatever devices they prefer in their personal lives. At SAP, the fallacy of BlackBerry for business, iPhone for play is shattered. Armed with all of the above, Bussmann is living proof that the best device is whatever device you want. The proof is all around SAP as well: the company deploys 8,000 iPhone, 17,000 BlackBerry, and 14,000 iPad devices. SAP software, by the way, can run on all of them.
With every conceivable device at the ready, Bussmann is, in a sense, a walking demo booth. He’s no stranger to giving customers and prospects a firsthand account of the power of SAP in the workplace. He is the CIO who introduced SAP Runs SAP, after all — an internal program through which SAP serves as an early adopter and user of its own software, implementing and installing SAP solutions throughout the company.
But there’s more to the story. Bussmann’s devices work well for demos, but they also serve another purpose: They keep him connected. And not just to the Global IT team — to the world around us.
“These devices aren’t for show,” he points out. “They’re tools. Social tools, in fact.”
It’s not surprising that a man with an iPad at hand, smartphones at hip, tweets frequently. Blogs as his busy schedule allows. Shares his insight and opinions with his thousands of followers. Chats with members of the media who wish to learn about his vision for blurring the lines between work devices and personal devices.
What is surprising, however, is that more CIOs have not followed in his footsteps. And those who have remain several social steps behind.
The numbers are in
harmon.ie (pronounced “harmony”), a provider of software solutions for advancing social business, recently decided to identify the most socially active group of CIOs in the Fortune 250 and Global 250. To create the list, they used a formula containing criteria such as the strength of each CIO’s LinkedIn network, retweet frequency, socialmention.com scores, blog reach, citations by other influential bloggers, and Google+ influence.
When the numbers were tallied, harmon.ie discovered that only 10% of the CIOs had “social credentials demonstrating that they understand what it takes to drive business transformation by using social tools to help flatten hierarchies, speed up business processes, and boost efficiency and agility through collaboration,” according to a harmon.ie press release about the social rankings.
Topping the list of the top 25 CIOs with social know-how? SAP’s very own CIO, Oliver Bussmann. Based on the harmon.ie formula for measuring social activity, he scored a whopping 9,824.
To illustrate the significance of that number: Benjamin Fried, Google’s CIO, came in second with 7,758. Bussmann’s domination becomes even clearer when you look at the rankings for the other 23 CIOs, whose scores ranged from 600 to 2,900 — not even close to Bussmann’s number.
And the point is…?
So Bussmann tweets and blogs more often than his colleagues. Is that cause for celebration? Yes, actually, according to Mark Fidelman, chief social strategist at harmon.ie and lead author of the analysis.
Despite the fact that businesses claim to place a high priority on social transformation, very few CIOs participate actively in social media, Fidelman notes. If CIOs don’t use social media externally, how can they possibly effect the change necessary to turn social tools into collaborative tools internally? It’s common sense: they can’t make their companies more social if they aren’t social themselves.
When social media makes the jump from home to the office, it opens a new, increasingly familiar means of communication for employees, customers, and partners. By failing to embrace social media in their own lives, CIOs fail to recognize the ways that social media can flatten hierarchies and increase productivity for their employers.
Fidelman finds this trend alarming. Writing about the study on Forbes.com, he explained: “For CIOs, managing is about understanding an organization’s people, information, and technologies. Their task is to make people capable of exceptional performance, to enable teams to collaborate and to prepare an organization to be more effective. This is what the true role of the CIO is all about, and it is the reason that she is critical to building a social business.”
Bussmann shares his own opinion on the subject: “Day-to-day work becomes easier when it reflects our personal experiences. Nowadays, we rely on social media to remain connected to one another. So it’s only natural that social media makes the transition into the workplace and becomes important to our success. Colleagues use it to stay in touch with co-workers inside and outside of the office. Our customers use it the same way. As the CIO, it’s my job to remain at the forefront and understand how social media can keep everyone in touch. That includes me using it to stay in touch and interact with my team, our customers, industry experts — everybody, really.”
If that’s the case, then how did the poster child for socially savvy CIOs react to the harmon.ie honor? By blogging and tweeting about it, of course — and thanking the Twitter followers who took the time to congratulate him for his top spot on the harmon.ie list.
“If you’re going to interact with people online, you must demonstrate your value to them by sharing your knowledge and thoughts,” he says. “But you must never forget to be polite. You don’t lose your social skills just because you’re staring at a screen instead of looking in a person’s face. That’s what social media is all about.”