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UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social

Dubbed the "Most Social" CIO, Oliver Bussmann is transforming UBS into a more collaborative and innovative organization in his new role as global CIO.

Many CIOs talk about thought leadership, but Oliver Bussmann may be the most accessible IT thought leader on the planet.

Recently donning the global CIO mantle at UBS, Bussmann made a name for himself in his previous position at SAP. There, his exceptional use of social media earned him industry recognition as the No. 1 Most Social CIO, according to Forbes.com.

With active accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, Bussmann regularly contributes to community commentary. His personal home page links to various sites for his bio, profile, presentations and news feeds. He also launched the externally facing CIO's blog at SAP.

"Communication behavior is in the middle of a sea change," Bussmann asserts. "By engaging through social media ... it makes barriers to reaching anyone, including me, very low.

"As a CIO," he continues, "embracing social media helps everyone else in the enterprise become motivated to engage [using social media tools] externally and internally. And it helps ensure IT no longer operates as a black box, which is very important."

But focusing solely on Bussmann's communication prowess misses the larger picture, for he's as shrewd with the bottom line as he is with sociability. Throughout his career at SAP and, before that, at Allianz and Deutsche Bank, Bussmann has always had his organizations operating efficiently -- frequently achieving double-digit cost-cutting goals.

He's also a master strategist. Where Bussmann once worked completely within the "IT as a cost center" paradigm, he now champions IT as a business enabler capable of driving revenues via innovation.

"A CIO can only be successful if there's a strong partnership and collaboration with the business," he says. Bussmann points to cloud computing as an example. "Cloud presents an opportunity for IT to drive innovation, but it also poses a threat because the business can partner with external sources and run applications itself," says Bussmann. "It's important for CIOs to embrace the cloud and IT's role as an integrator."

CIOs should determine how to put IT "in the driver's seat" as enterprises explore how best to utilize cloud technologies, Bussmann adds. "When IT is not in the driver's seat, its value is diminished," he says.

Valley Of Innovation

One way Bussmann ensures that his organization makes the best of innovation is by staying in contact with San Francisco Bay Area venture capitalists to monitor the latest technologies coming out of Silicon Valley.

"The challenge goes beyond understanding the megatrends and leveraging them for the business," says Bussmann. "It's also seeing how the megatrends are interconnected. Then finding the right combination, in partnership with the business, is absolutely critical for success."

In 2012, Bussmann, who was still at SAP, received a call to discuss a job at UBS, which wanted to transform its organization to be more innovative, collaborative and cost-effective. He joined UBS on June 1 of this year.

Aligning the UBS culture with his IT philosophy is a key focus for Bussmann. "Setting up a culture that brings innovation closer to the business is one of my priorities," he says.

However, as Bussmann points out, "innovation" and "disruptive technologies" can be very abstract concepts. "Therefore, in the working environment, it's important to establish hands-on ways for people to explore and learn about a given technology," he says.

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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Anne R. Gabriel
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Anne R. Gabriel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 4:17:53 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
He may have started noodling with early social media technologies at Fireman's Fund (2006-2009), but his true embrace and subsequent prolific use was at SAP.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 10:29:42 AM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Do you recall if Bussman was a social media guru while he was at Fireman's Fund, or did he start building his social media profile when he was at SAP?
IvySchmerken
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IvySchmerken,
User Rank: Author
10/4/2013 | 7:03:24 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Anne, I agree. CIOs won't be able to hide from social media for too long if they expect to recruit the next generation of talent who have grown up on Facebook and Twitter.
Anne R. Gabriel
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Anne R. Gabriel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 6:35:50 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Our (the editors) thoughts, exactly :)
Anne R. Gabriel
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Anne R. Gabriel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 6:34:43 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Very insightful, Kathy. Although we did not have time to delve into this aspect, I believe Bussmann would most definitely agree. It is very clear from talking to Bussmann that he learns the bigger lessons of each job experience and applies them going forward.
Anne R. Gabriel
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Anne R. Gabriel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 6:34:09 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
@Ivy. It's true the Bussmann approach may not work for other CIOs right now, but it I do foresee a future where every CIO will need to be at least somewhat social as @Jonathan so adeptly points out - workers weaned on social media will gain strength in the workforce and expectations will change.
Anne R. Gabriel
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Anne R. Gabriel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 6:33:25 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
@Zarna, I couldn't agree more. Traditionally, IT wasn't considered a particularly "social" career. So it will take time for the paradigm to shift. But, as Bussmann has shown and @Greg observes, using social media to start conversations can be an extremely valuable way to move an IT organization toward innovating.

@Nate, you're also dead-on. CIOs are still struggling to use social media effectively, regardless of which platform they choose.

In Bussmann's case, his SAP Twitter handle was "@SAPCIO", which enabled him to keep all of his commentary tightly focused on SAP matters. This brings up at least two related issues:

1) Does this mean CIOs need to manage multiple social media accounts so they can channel commentary appropriately? If so, when will there be robust aggregation tools so it doesn't drive them nutty keeping the accounts straight?

2) if a Twitter handle like "@SAPCIO" becomes so synonymous with a certain person, what does the company do with the handle when that person moves on? (SAP has apparently shut down that handle and is asking folks to follow individual people; bringing us back to issue #1.)
MaryS721
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MaryS721,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 5:47:34 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Yay! Ollie Bear!
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
10/4/2013 | 12:50:57 PM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
Bussman was an insurance CIO (Fireman's Fund) prior to his tenure at SAP, and I'm guessing this varied experience -- different industries, vendor side as well as "customer" side -- also factors into his embrace of new ideas and focus on employee and customer engagement. He has seen IT management & strategy from a variety of perspectives & probably has few, if any illusions about what works (or not) and the obstacles on the road to success. Very interesting profile.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 10:36:25 AM
re: UBS Taps Oliver Bussmann To Go Social
I have found the same thing. Twitter, or other social platforms, tend to get conversations started. I have seen CIOs tweet about a technology article, or make what seems like a small comment on a social media site, and then the conversation explodes -- tech specs, business cases, best practices and more.

Granted, most of the really juicy conversation will take place away from social media, but social is an easy way to get a conversation started, which will hopefully help people sort through all of the marketing and hype associated with newer technologies.
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