Brian Fanzo

Title: Digital technology evangelist (former)
Company: IO Data Centers
Size: 600 employees

ADAPT: Embracing change, seizing opportunities

Embracing change opens new worlds of opportunity.

Brian Fanzo seized opportunity and change in his first job out of college working on BAE Systems’ help desk. When a senior colleague scheduled to leave for Seoul to train US military personnel suddenly quit, Mr Fanzo quickly volunteered for the assignment, scrambled to get his first passport and flew to South Korea two days later. For eight years, he travelled the globe, including war theatres in Afghanistan and Iraq where he trained soldiers and officers to use security software to defend against enemy hackers.

Two years ago, Mr Fanzo left cybersecurity for a new opportunity at IO, a fast-growing start-up firm. Mr Fanzo became technology evangelist at the Phoenix, Arizona, “software-defined” data centre company. There, he was charged with ensuring that employees were empowered by a social platform designed to provide technology training and help employees collaborate more effectively and better serve “communities” of IO customers. (In June, Mr Fanzo left IO to become a partner and chief digital officer at Broadsuite Digital Marketing.)

Social business change has opened up an array of new opportunities for IO. About 80% of IO employees now use the company’s online collaboration platform daily to see interactions taking place across various departments. As a result, information silos have largely disappeared and the company is able “to tap the collective intelligence of all employees”, Mr Fanzo says. If people have something useful to contribute to an internal discussion about an issue, even if they do not normally interact with the colleagues involved, they simply chime in. This has created “a radical degree of transparency” across various departments, which share insights and together come up with solutions to customer challenges.

The social business initiative has benefited from high-level support. IO’s chief executive, George Slessman, uses the platform exclusively to communicate with employees, giving employees one big reason to participate. (Those not logged on would have missed a last-minute announcement of an extra half-day off ahead of Memorial Day weekend.)

With success has come new challenges. The volume of IO conversations on both the internal platform and on public social networks grew enormously. (Mr Fanzo managed 18 accounts at one point.) To cope, Mr Fanzo increased automation so that many notifications were directed to relevant colleagues, enabling them to respond directly if necessary.

Active listening on IO’s social forums provided him with near-real-time intelligence—and colleagues with new opportunities to engage with customers, potential customers and industry “influencers”. All this allowed IO to work more effectively.

“I am no longer guessing about what is going on out there [because] I now know I have a real pulse of what’s going on,” Mr Fanzo said in an interview prior to his departure from IO. “It’s not just about social media for branding or social business tools for individual contributions or even department collaborations. Now it’s about connecting the community—both internal and external—to help make more informed and strategic business decisions.”





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