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Meet a Real Life Chief Customer Officer: Michael Idinopulos

Last week when we spoke with Michael Idinopulos about Socialtext’s partnership with Badgeville, I was curious about his title, Chief Customer Officer. As you may recall, earlier this year, we examined the evolving roles of the C-suite and the impact of social business within the enterprise. It’s not everyday that I meet a bona fide Chief Customer Officer, so naturally, I had some questions for him.

How Customers are Changing the Way We Work

If you were to choose any company who’d have a Chief Customer Officer, Socialtext would be a good guess, given their social collaboration expertise. But I wanted to know what was behind the title and how his views about the customer experience influence how Socialtext works. Let’s listen in.

CMSWire: Describe your role as the Chief Customer Officer at Socialtext.
photo_MikeIdinopulos.jpg Michael Idinopulos: I'm Chief Customer Officer and General Manager. That combination is really important. Some tech companies are run by engineers, others by sales guys and others by product guys. I'm a customer guy. That gives Socialtext a perspective that's more practical, more deeply rooted in the realities of real work. Whereas some competitors want to overthrow traditional work process, we want to make it better. We've been way in front on topics like integration into the flow of work. That's a customer-driven message.
 
CMSWire: How has the role of the customer changed within organizations and how has it affected the way companies work?
Idinopulos: Public social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have empowered customers. They now want and expect to be part of a conversation with the company — about issues, opportunities, and even strategic direction. Successful companies now engage their employees as critics, thought partners and advocates. That's very different from the traditional sell-and-support model.
 
CMSWire: In your recent TEDx Talk, you talk about social learning. Can you talk about the role that Socialtext is playing in revolutionizing the way we work?

Idinopulos: The vast majority — more than 70% according to the experts — of workplace learning happens informally. People learn by watching and talking to their colleagues. Socialtext's  major breakthrough is that we've made informal learning digital. That's important because so much of work now happens online. It also to the modern, global, distributed organization much better than the old water cooler.

CMSWire: Looking ahead, what should companies be doing to become more socially collaborative at work?
Idinopulos: Companies need to integrate social into their daily flow of work. Social tools can't be a place where you go when you feel like "doing the social software thing." They've got to be the place where work gets done. Social becomes the one-stop shop for communications, for learning, for feedback, for documentation, for meeting notes. Once that happens — bingo! — you've got a collaborative organization.

 
 
 
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