How Social Intelligence Can Guide Decisions and Improve Performance

Norman Marks, CRMA, CPA, is a vice president for SAP and has been a chief audit executive and chief risk officer at major global corporations for more than 20 years.


A report from the consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, shares valuable insights on the topic of “How ‘social intelligence’ can drive decisions."

Not only is this an interesting read, but governance, risk, and assurance professionals should recognize the risk of not being intelligent and failing to mine the information available in social media. As the authors say, “The costs of navigating without a social-intelligence map can be substantial.” They should also understand the opportunity of using these tools to manage risks to business objectives.

Key points include:

  • As social technologies mature and organizations become convinced of their power, we believe they will take on a broader role: informing competitive strategy. 

  • Social-intelligence literacy will become a critical asset for C-level executives and board members seeking the best possible basis for their decisions.

  • Social media can also provide windows into the plans of competitors, suppliers, and customers. 

  • The range of analytical techniques has exploded, and to stay ahead of the game companies must tap new areas of expertise. 

In contrast to some dry research papers, McKinsey makes excellent use of stories to illustrate and demonstrate their points. Look for discussions of:

  • Servier, a French company whose disaster could have been avoided by better social intelligence.

  • General Electric, who used social to generate thousands of ideas.

  • The Canadian company, Desjardins, who used social intelligence to inform and improve decision-making.

Where are you? Are you moving to upgrade your social intelligence? Do you understand the risk of not doing so, and the ability to improve management of business risk though social intelligence?

Posted on Feb 12, 2013 by Norman Marks

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  1.  this is very important Norman and thank you for sharing it

  1. Hullo Norman,

    I'm fascinated that you found that McKinsey paper, you're keeping up some eclectic reading habits. As an ex Internal Auditor (3 years only before moving on to CIO and related and now social media) you really grabbed my attention with your question "Do you understand the risk of not doing so, and the ability to improve management of business risk though social intelligence?"

    This is an issue which we face most days, to get executives to understand this one point. What frameworks can you recommend to be able to lay out a kind of "govenance, risk, control" or other method to tease out the details of this risk in a way which would then be more apparent to Boards and executives?

    Thanks in advance, Walter @adamson

  1.  Walter, thanks for the comment. I don't think a framework is necessary, only an imaginative and inquiring mind. We should be watchful for how new technology is changing our world, and asking our management whether they are considering all opportunities.

    i believe in internal auditors being well-read. For example, I love the magazine Fast Company, which is magic on the iPad.

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