CIO Editorial: Community groups come together over a range of topics and discover opportunities
On the 29th of July, 2018 a WhatsApp group was formed. This group was formed to fulfil a purpose, that purpose was to Enduro mountain bike ride the many passes of the Mont Blanc region of the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland. For the following seven days the WhatsApp group informed and entertained a group of six individuals from China, France, the UK and Australia, who were thrown together with one ambition in mind, to ride the hardest mountain bike descents Europe has to offer. The group and tool was invaluable for sharing information.
This WhatsApp group is just the latest reminder to me of how important this tool is becoming for organisations and communities seeking to achieve outcomes. In conversations with CIOs in government and healthcare I have heard of WhatsApp being used as a backup communications channel during major outages or as the hub for a cross functional team to deliver a major change.
For CIOs WhatsApp represents the latest phase in the development of the role from provider and policeman to what being a CIO is today: enabling broker who offers choice and guidance. Only this morning the CIO of major supply chain organisation described how a lean IT team has in one year helped an organisation understand the importance of choice and how this is increasing the pace of change in the organisation.
The CIOs who are witnessing WhatsApp grow in their organisations tell me they see the power of communities bubble up in their organisations, how ideas are flowing from bottom up (a holy grail for many organisations) and an opportunity to have new levels transparency across the business. WhatsApp groups are not the old fashioned shadow IT, although there are shades of shadow present, in the vast majority of cases I see, these are in effect user groups. All walks of life in an organisation coming together to work out a solution or keep a high tempo of communications throughout the business.
There are of course challenges, as CIO you are responsible for technology and information governance in your organisation and there are potential holes into the organisation presented by WhatsApp. But as the broker and enabler in the organisation, you will need to ensure all are aware of their responsibilities, without becoming the department that says no.
Discovering and embracing the WhatsApp communities across your organisation can reveal opportunities to deliver change more effectively, more than one CIO has told me of new low hanging fruit they had not identified brought to their attention and a window into those champions and influencers that can help with modernisation.
The Horizon CIO Podcast operates its own WhatsApp group for CIOs and it the value of the group is seen when a peer asks for advice on next generation service providers. In minutes the community swings into action and shares recommendations.
Embrace WhatsApp, broker good behaviour and feel free to join our group and discuss in full confidence how you are helping your organisation move towards a new horizon.