Twitter is going through what you could call the "emergence" phase of its development, as it garners lots of attention from the mainstream media and is becoming a part of daily discourse.
In my cycling obsessed (away from the office that is) world, Twitter took on a greater emphasis this week. In the previous week I was the victim of a bicycle theft here at the CIO tower in London. Not a massive surprise as bike crime spirals in the capital.
I began the laborious process of claiming from my insurance provider instantly. As is so often the case, dealing with the insurer was not an enjoyable experience. Only a week earlier the CIO of one of the most important insurance companies in the country told me how his wife was a customer of his own organisation and received less than first class treatment from a company he is responsible for. So I suppose it's nice to know that poor customer service is across the board.
Feeling disgruntled with the service I received, I shared my anger with those who follow my personal feed on Twitter. To my surprise my venting was picked up by InsuranceLinks, a Twitter community of 600 odd followers who chart the poor service from insurance companies. It all reminded me of the Dell Hell days of 2005 when bloggers charted poor service they had received from the PC manufacturer.
Then Lance Armstrong, arguably the most famous cyclist in the world, revealed on Twitter that he would be in Scotland on Monday and up for a ride if anyone was game. Around 300 Scottish cyclists were more than game and joined the legend for a ride around Renfrewshire.
What does all of this mean to a CIO? It means Twitter has come of age in effect. Just as Facebook, MySpace and blogging before it became the communications medium of the moment, so Twitter is the medium of today.
Using their knowledge of the power and pervasiveness of technology CIOs need to be sure their organisation knows how this medium can affect them.
When a technology like this joins the national vocabulary; often management worry about lost productivity and protecting the networks. I believe CIOs should demonstrate the business, technology, youth and customer knowledge I know they have, and call on their organisation to sharpen its act. If the CIO of one of the major insurers can demonstrate how their brand is being pulled through the mud on Twitter and improve the value of the service it receives from its suppliers then everyone is a winner. Customers want to be served well from a business and a business wants revenue from a customer, not negative Twitter feedback.
Lance Armstrong demonstrated this week that with Twitter he has direct communication to those that follow his brand. So could you.
Oh, you can follow CIO UK on Twitter as well.