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IBM CEO Study: Openness Through Social Media Is Key To Organizational Success

According to the IBM’s CEO study, conducted amongst more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 sectors, “Open CEOs” identify openness enabled by social media as a major influence on their organization. These organizations perform better because they are using existing collective intelligence, are more agile and are able to act quickly for higher profitability and growth.

This is key when thinking of Havard Business School professor Morten Hansen and colleague Bolko Von Oetinger  who said that in spite of organisations’ best efforts, most continue to squander their greatest assets – knowledge scattered and embedded within and outside organizations.

The research shows that today only 16 percent of CEOs use social networks to create more direct involvement with their employees, customers and partners. This will rise in the next three to five years to 57 percent. Social media are currently the least used to interact with stakeholders to engage. Within five years they become the number two “engagement” method, behind face-to-face interactions as number one.

Forbes reports the following key findings:

  • The Study Reveals That CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command and control ethos That has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.
  • Companies That outperform Their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness – Often characterized by a Greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation – as a key influence on Their organization.
  • More than half or CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to Facilitate Greater partnering and collaboration with outside Organizations, while 52 percent are shifting Their great attention to its promoting internal collaboration.
  • Championing collaborative innovation is not something to Their CEOs are delegating HR leaders. According To The Study Findings, the business executives are interested in leading by example.
  • CEOs regard interpersonal skills or collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and Flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.
  • The trend toward Greater collaboration extends beyond the corporation to external partnering relationships. Partnering is now at an all-time high. In 2008, Slightly more than half of the CEOs interviewed IBM planned to partner extensively. Now, more than two-thirds intending to do so.
  • Most CEOs are focused on gaining insights into Their customers. Seventy-three percent of CEOs are making significant investments in Their Organizations’ ability to draw meaningful customer insights from available data.


Face-to-face, physical contact, creates and maintains trust only on a small scale, but is the most effective. Social networks are cost-effective technologies that expand wider transparency and thus trust, both inside and outside the organization. They spur sharing, accountability and loyalty, and because the interviewed CEOs like to lead by example, this develops and brings forth trust.

Market-driven organization

Openness, collaboration with various stakeholder groups supports the effectuation of the market-driven organization. CEOs say that they most focus on customer insights and do significant investments in order to develop such capabilities. Social media reinforce the intangible assets, which determine a large part of the organization’s value (around 80%, especially in highly information-intensive industries). The ability to extract insights, integrate collaboration tools, but also the soft skills mentioned in the key findings all belong to the intangible capital.

Collaboration with external stakeholders is increasingly taken into account, how do you think this will affect the organizational structure and its intangible capital?