Talking about dinosaurs

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I was following the tweets from the IT Directors Forum last week and was a bit shocked to find that there was only one person tweeting from the event. So thanks Rob Williams for posting some of the highlights of the event.

To be honest, actually, I am not all that surprised. I can imagine that maybe some other delegates would have liked to use Twitter and were put off by the mobile data charges to get web access at the P&O Aurora, but...I am sure that they were not totally disconnected. If they were, their employers have a real reason to worry.

The truth is that CIOs who are active on Twitter are still few and far between and CIOs during conferences is even more of a rare occurrence. What shocked me the most were the soundbites from colleagues that Williams tweeted during the conference:

"We're not investing in Facebook use, it'll be gone in six months"

"IT is there to protect the company, not to enable people to work how they want"

"Should more IT Directors be tweeting? I've been told we should focus on strategy, and not play with toys!"

Williams seemed to be a bit of an outsider at the ITDF when it came to social media input/understanding. CIOs told him - as they often do - that they have no time for social media. "Too busy working," they said. He also mentioned that he collected 30 business cards, none of which had Twitter contact details.

This is not a generalisation, but there are way too many CIOs out there who still dismiss social networking tools as toys - I met several of them.

The coin hasn't dropped for them yet. Needless to say, social networking tools are just core to how any business - regardless of whether it is a car manufacturer, a retailer or a consultancy - interacts with its audience. Customers want it - so dismissing these demands is the same as turning business away.

These tools are also essential in terms of helping an IT executive keep close to what's happening on the ground. If you run a team of about 300 people, how can you possibly communicate with them all, even if you maintain an "open door policy"?

And if you are so out of touch in relation to the tools that your staff and users utilise, why would they want to work for you?

If these are people who want to be seen as a "business partner" or an "internal consultant", how can they possibly provide advice that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of code and infrastructure, and use technology that everyone understands, in ways that can help boost business levels, credibility and service? May the Lord help the companies that turn to these people for advice on how to improve internal and external interaction!

If CIOs cannot see the value of social networking, they are complete dinosaurs. And as such, these IT executives will soon face total extinction.

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