Six Sigma

The latest tech tool? People power.

November 9, 2009: 9:30 AM ET

How social networking can transform the CIO into a superhero

By Alan S. Cohen, vice president enterprise, Cisco

Alan Pic

Workers unite! Cohen says social networks can empower employees. Photo: Cisco

I recently spent a few days with 100 of Cisco's (CSCO)  top customers, Chief Information Officers (CIOs), representing a range of industries – private and public and geographies. These folks are often the unsung heroes of  their organizations, enabling employees to perform great technological feats while helping management wring huge cost savings from their budgets.

During our time together, the conversations focused on how work has changed: from local to global, from centralized to decentralized, and increasingly, from live to asynchronous or even virtual.

In the past 20 to 30 years, our customers' organizations have invested tens of billions of dollars in transaction systems – from ERP to email – to reduce latency and inefficiency in value chains. This considerable investment underpins the heart of the "Six Sigma," process-driven revolution that became the ultimate strategy for operational excellence. However, today we've reached the zenith of transactional gains.

So, from where is the next wave of innovation and productivity emerging? Allow me to posit a simple answer: from people. More

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