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4 min read

Social CIO Series: Mark Brewer, Seagate Technology

Social tools can help personalize an organization.

Name: Mark Brewer
Title: SVP and CIO
Organization: Seagate Technology IT Organization

1. Tell us a bit about your organization and what it is trying to accomplish.

I’m responsible for IT leadership in the enterprise. This includes ownership of the IT Strategy and its alignment with the objectives and needs of the business. As a member of the leadership team, I participate and contribute to overall enterprise business technology planning, bringing a current knowledge and future vision of technology and systems to business processes, products and services for a competitive advantage. Responsible for business systems (ERP, Quality, HR, Finance, etc.) and factory information systems. Company IT infrastructure including desktops, local area networks, wide area network between sites, enterprise data warehousing, telephony services, equipment and messaging. Other responsibilities include business continuity planning, governance for IT systems and electronic security for the enterprise and championing collaborative processes and tools in the enterprise too.

2. Tell us a bit about you and how you view your role as CIO.

I’ve been the CIO for almost 16 years and I currently report to the company CEO. I get to work with a really great leadership team and a talented IT staff. We are a fast moving company with a lot of interesting things going on.

I’ve also enjoyed some interaction outside the enterprise via twitter at @brewerma and on an external IT blog at http://brewerma.wordpress.com and I’ve learned from both of these experiences and they have affected by thinking on the use of the tools internally.

3. What were the key reasons you started to drive social into your organization?

The original reason for deploying the tools was for team collaboration and documentation. As people started using the tools, we found many different use patterns and at one point, we documented dozens of different ways people were using our wiki infrastructure. Blogging started with several of the executives blogging about their areas and challenges. I started an internal blog 5 years ago this week. Teams began collaborating differently. Search became important so we worked hard for a couple of years to greatly improve our search tools and allow search into more and more domains. Several new collaboration tools were deployed three years ago and then we began deploying telepresence over a year ago. Our latest addition has been a microblogging platform which two organization are heavily using.

This enables the fast, broad sharing of information across a team, group, or the entire enterprise. The fast sharing enables everyone to be connected to business decisions and their rationale and it puts a personal touch on those communications.

“There is less need to ‘hand things down a management chain,’ when we are using these tools to share with anyone who opts-in to listen.”

It is much easier to find expertise, to solve problems, to seek out other opinions and to engage a diverse, global workforce with these tools than with some of the earlier tools like email and company portals. All of this enables an enterprise to innovate faster.

And the tools provide an excellent way to personalize the organization. Faces, names, talents, connections, interests, skills, etc. become more visible.

4. How did the arrival of social interplay with your organization's culture?

Seagate has a strong culture of teamwork and passion to get a good job done by working together to delighting our customers. Our organization is embracing social readily as an efficient and personal way to collaborate between individuals, departments, partners and ultimately, the customer. 

5. How did you mitigate the change management aspects of introducing social?

We just deployed the tools and started using them. Nothing was mandated.

6. What do you see as your biggest social "win" so far, inside your organization?

In my organization: fast transparency of ideas and decisions.

“By using the blog platform to share what is going on, I’m hopefully enabling the IT team, and anyone else who watches, to quickly hear about what, why and how we are doing what we do. And I’m engaging with them to get feedback and further ideas.”

7. What is your advice to traditional CIO's that are leery of "going social"? Any important lessons learned you would like to share?

The world is moving this direction. You need to get on board and take some steps and try it out. You’ll learn as you go. Sitting on the sideline is probably not the right answer. Yes, mistakes will be made, but you’ll be moving in the good direction, engaging your team and learning along the way.

8. What question did you want to answer that we failed to ask?

External social tools and plans are also important and need to be developed. Use of these tools in both directions needs to be thoughtfully considered and deployed. Employees want to read about company ‘wins’ internally and externally too. Plus with the external conversations the enterprise can engage with customers in amazing ways.

About Jostle’s CIO Series

At Jostle we recognize the importance of leadership in making social collaboration work inside of organizations. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we sought out some of the top social CIO’s in North America to participate in a Jostle Blog series that focuses on the challenges and successes of applying social tools. We are happy to share these success stories with you and we hope it inspires the social champion in all of you. If you know a Social CIO you feel should be included in this series, please contact us at CIO@jostle.me. There is no requirement that they be using the Jostle People Engagement® platform.

About Seagate Technology

Founded in 1979, Seagate is the leading provider of hard drives and storage solutions. From the videos, music and documents we share with friends and family on social networks, to servers that form the backbone of enterprise data centers and cloud-based computing, to desktop and notebook computers that fuel our personal productivity, Seagate products help more people store, share and protect their valuable digital content. Seagate offers the industry’s broadest portfolio of hard disk drives, solid-state drives and solid-state hybrid drives. In addition, the company offers an extensive line of retail storage products for consumers and small businesses, along with data-recovery services for any brand of hard drive and digital media type. Seagate employs more than 50,000 people around the world.

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Gabriela Herrera

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