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Social CIO Series: Stephen diFilipo, Cecil College

“As with any disruption or change to status quo, adoption follows the standard curve.”

“As with any disruption or change to status quo, adoption follows the standard curve.”

Name: Stephen diFilipo
Title: VP and CIO
Organization: Cecil College

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

Cecil College is a regional community college located in the north eastern section of Maryland bordering Pennsylvania and Delaware. The college provides credit courses for students attaining either an associate’s degree from Cecil College or a bachelor’s degree from universities with whom the college has articulation agreements. Additionally Cecil College offers certification in a number of skill areas in support of workforce development and personal enrichment. Within that the college has made a commitment to engage prospective students, currently enrolled students and alumni using communication techniques that are preferred by those individuals. Leveraging social media and mobile technologies the college can tailor and target messages using multi-modal technologies to reach individuals or diverse groups in a more timely manner using techniques that have a higher read/response rate based upon user preference.

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

My role providing technology leadership throughout the institution includes strategic planning, thought leadership and operational oversight. Within that larger perspective I provide insight into emerging and evolving technologies that can be leveraged to the benefit of the college, it’s divisions, staff, faculty and future, current and past students. My current focus includes innovative use of technology for teaching and learning, mobile access, social media and BYOD efforts.

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

Contemporary research and common wisdom clearly indicates the preference among traditional college age students toward mobile friendly and social media for engagement. The college community had made a commitment to providing mobile access and mobile learning opportunities for students. Social media became a natural extension of that strategy.

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

The college had already established a ‘culture of mobile’. That prevailing culture addressed the value of social media, particularly the preference among traditional age college students.

Opportunities to inform and educate staff and faculty were a step-off point. A consensus was reached that social interaction was advisable.

Pilot projects were defined that were small in scope. Project progress was monitored and where necessary practices and procedures were modified moving from pilot status to full scale implementation. Individual departments were encouraged to identify opportunities to leverage social for their specific strategic initiatives and operational goals.

Pivotal opportunities were leveraged to include social components, for example the college website re-design included a natural conversation around social integration and mobile access. The college adoption of a robust mobile learning application has evolved to include social components.

As with any disruption or change to status quo, adoption follows the standard curve.

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

Prospective students can complete the application to attend college while logged into Facebook. Although, recent reports indicate traditional age college students are trending away from Facebook.

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

Within the higher education vertical there is a need to become more responsive to customer expectations and demands. Students have more options to advance their education and are clearly ‘in the driver’s seat’. Recognizing and accommodating their behaviors and lifestyle preferences provides a competitive advantage.

“It has been demonstrated that the challenges of student retention and degree completion can be enhanced through the use of social media.”

Among CIOs at large I would recommend to proceed cautiously but proceed. How does social fit into strategic planning? Jack Welch is quoted as saying

“I am convinced that if the rate of change within an organization is less than the rate of change outside, the end is near.”

—Jack Welch, CareerJournal (WSJ), 6/25/2005, 114

This seems to apply to the adoption of social in any organization.

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 Cecil College

Cecil College is a comprehensive, open admission, learner-centered institution providing career, transfer and continuing education coursework and programs. Our more than 100 degree and certificate offerings anticipate and meet the dynamic intellectual, cultural and economic development challenges of Cecil County and the surrounding region. Through our support services and a technologically enriched learning environment, Cecil College strives to empower each learner with the skills, knowledge and values needed for college preparation, transfer to four-year colleges and universities, workforce entry or advancement, and personal enrichment.

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