Time Warner’s CIO talks about hiring for a social enterprise

When Bill Krivoshik joined Time Warner as SVP and CIO, the media and entertainment conglomerate was looking for an IT exec that had it all-interpersonal skills, strong tech-management ability, and in-depth experience with shared services-to lead an initiative to provide IT support to all of Time Warner’s businesses, including TBS and Time.

“I’m sure if they could have found a CIO with [all of that] and media experience, they would have hired that person,” says Krivoshik, who came to the newly created position with extensive experience as a CIO at financial companies, including at Marsh and McLennan. “Ultimately, the company was looking for leadership skills and experience, and not simply driving change through a mandate.”

What is it like to go from financial services to a media company?

Both industries really value the contribution technology can make to the business. A CIO’s success depends on their ability to put in place the right people, the right tools and the right business processes. Both financial services and media companies need a real mix of talent. You need people who have deep technology skills, understand the business issues and can communicate solutions to their business partners, and you need strong managers.

Salesforce.com talks about creating the “social enterprise.” What do you see as the rewards and the risks of that?

As I understand it, the social enterprise that they envision leverages collaboration tools, mobile technologies and social media to enhance interactions with your customers. I’d like to take the liberty of extending it to both internal and external customers. I believe the rewards are potentially significant, but there are also certainly risks and costs to manage that can be just as significant.

By definition, a “social enterprise” would be one that is very good at using technology to increase brand recognition, to provide the tools for customers to do business with you more easily, and to provide some value that your competitors can’t provide.

Ultimately, we need to provide our products to end customers on more platforms. For example, Time wanted all 21 of our U.S. titles available as tablet editions by the end of 2011. And HBO GO, and later MAX GO, allowed consumers to get HBO and Cinemax content anywhere they have a connection to a broadband network.

To make these innovations happen, the CIO needs to hire smart people with the experience to know how to correctly architect solutions that keep costs in check even though the number, variety and complexity of platforms continues to grow.

Does being a social enterprise give you a hiring advantage?

It seems obvious, but with the consumerization of IT, employees want to bring in a variety of devices and connect them to company systems. They may be coming from companies that already allow this, or they may be younger hires who are used to being connected through a variety of platforms all the time.

Obviously, practicality is needed in determining which technologies to invest in, but there is also the softer requirement to make sure the workplace is more attractive to millennials and other tech-savvy talent. This is the segment of the workforce that has leading-edge platform skills.

This includes access to collaboration tools, from wikis to social media. But there has to be that balance. There must be a strong sense of practicality. That is, we don’t develop technology for technology’s sake, but invest in and support technology that addresses business needs.

Phil Schneidermeyer is a partner in the New York office of Heidrick & Struggles, where he specializes in recruiting CIOs and CTOs for all industries.

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