IBM’s new study of 1709 global CEOs in 64 countries and 18 industries shows top executives and brand leaders are embracing openness, transparency and employee empowerment over the traditional command-and-control ethos that has defined the corporation for the last 100 years.
While just 16% of C-suite occupants surveyed actively participate in social media, adding or replacing email and phone usage, that number is projected to increase to 57% by 2017.
“As CEOs ratchet up the level of openness within their organizations, they are developing collaborative environments where employees are encouraged to speak up, exercise personal initiative, connect with fellow collaborators, and innovate,” the study concludes.
CEOs and their C-suite colleagues set the cultural tone and key findings of the study include:
- Companies that use social media are 30% more likely to outperform their peers.
- Social media remains under-utilized in customer interaction, a distant second to face-to-face.
- Business executives are interested in leading by example rather than delegating to HR staff.
- CEOs rank collaboration (75%), communication (67%), creativity (61%) and flexibility (61%) as central to employee behavior in a more interconnected environment.
- More than half of CEOs (53%) plan to use technology to engender partnership and collaboration with outside organizations.
One example is Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, who says the days of isolated innovation are ending, replaced by strategic partnerships as a key to success.
“Innovating together with your partners is a win-win for both,” says Voser. “At Shell, we not only deal with energy, we also need to focus on challenges such as water and food as they’re all interlinked. That’s why driving innovation together, also across industries, is extremely important.”
“One of the most compelling findings is how in tune CEOs are about the implications and impact of social media,” said Bridget van Kralingen, SVP, IBM Global Business Services. “Rather than repeating the familiar lament about de-personalizing human relationships, this view leans heavily in favor of deepening them, and using dynamic social networks to harness collective intelligence to unlock new models of collaboration.”
Building a next-generation workforce requires active recruitment of employees who excel in open, team-based environments. CEOs are recognizing the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data tracked online, on mobile and on social media sites to create a more holistic understanding of customers beyond engagement with their organization.
“The IBM study shows that CEOs and the companies they manage must constantly evolve to stay competitive,” writes Forbes. “Partners, suppliers, employees and customers want CEOs to communicate with them on a personal level to build trust and to help align them to the organization’s strategy. There is a lot at stake here. And if CEOs continue to hide in their Ivory Towers under the guise of some old command and control mentality, the next chapter in their career might be written somewhere else.”
See more videos (such as the one below) about the 2012 Global CEO Study on IBM's YouTube channel.