CIO’s and CMO’s role in Social Product Development

Tushar    October 24, 2013

3M Logo - RGB Pro Size

Customer feedback is the most precious input for Organizations that aspire to be at the leading edge of product innovation. The product life-cycles are getting  shorter and the competition is only getting tougher.

There are a number of technologies in the market and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Chief Information Officer to determine which product to use. Also, it is the Chief Marketing Officer who is beginning to make decisions. This disruption in the increased use of social technologies questions the CIO role itself !  The emerging CIO’s role is getting defined as:

  • They must work to integrate business processes, data, and ideas across business units to facilitate innovation.
  • CIOs must also find means to facilitate integration of the business with external stakeholders, for example by creating a consistent knowledge base for customers, cloud vendors, suppliers, etc.
  • Lastly, at a more strategic level, the new CIO role must be an integrator of both old and new roles including the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Data Officer, the Chief Technology Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, and many more.

Case of 3M3M applies social business to its product development. 

3M is a global company and its tag line says it all: ‘Innovative Technology for a changing world’. IBM’s social software – IBM Connections was selected for its ability to integrate social media with its product innovation engines.  IBM Connections was chosen since it is built with innovative features like the ability to include embedded applications in an activity stream, side by side with micro-blogging comments.

While this is a widely used software for corporate applications, 3M’s R&D used Socialcast as its system for microblogging-style collaboration. Sales used a free version of Yammer, which was outside of anything IT did. This improved collaboration across the sales force.

3M chose IBM Connections to connect the enterprise with customers. A searchable directory of social profiles was built in IBM Connections in order to build a complete list of experts. 3M loaded a set of expertise tags of its employees from it’s HR systems. Through integration with content management systems, 3M made patent filings easily searchable with the help of tags and an easy to use interface. Using this technology, customers have provided specific requests to 3M’s experts to meet their requirements. In addition, sales and marketing provided tips to product teams and this added to product innovation.

Social media was used for online brain-storming. 3M’s R&D achieved building 45 product prototypes in six weeks. The technology used was virtual technology conferences and the IBM Connections platform.

These kind of change and adoption of new technologies in the Social Media space have empowered Chief Marketing Officers and in a way threatens the role of a Chief Information Officer. CIO magazine reports that IT investments that used to be the domain of the CIO is now shifting towards the CMO.  Marketing is now on the top of the CIO’s to-do list. It used to be at the bottom ten years back !

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer is changing. Mckinsey, in its report, says that CMOs have to move out of their narrowly defined roles and spread their wings. The report says that critical contributors to the broadening mission of marketers include the Internet and evolving distribution models, which are profoundly changing the way consumers research and buy products. The CMOs should evolve to reflect the new customer buying behaviour and managing the new complexity.

As businesses embrace the digital space, Gartner says that the CIOs and CMOs need to collaborate in the new realm of digital marketing.

Lesson to Learn: Product development is now a process that embraces customer feedback and inputs. CIOs and CMOs now have a significant role to play in Social Product Development.

Submitted by: Tushar Goteti – SMBP student, University of Waterloo. To contact the author of this entry please email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.