Are you aware of internal audit?

This month, the IIA has been promoting May as International Internal Audit Awareness Month.

I’m conflicted, because as an internal auditor, I favour people being aware that my job exists. On the other hand, it has always seemed a little silly, or maybe crass even.

Another word that comes to mind is tone-deaf. Don’t we generally recognize awareness months for diseases or good causes or peoples’ heritages?

For instance, Wikipedia helpfully lists diseases or causes that are competing with internal audit for your awareness this month. Just a few:

  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Lyme Disease
  • Guide Dogs

In Canada, various groups are trying to raise awareness for:

  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Food Allergies

Maybe some might consider being audited akin to having a disease, but should the IIA be inviting the comparison?

There’s a hashtag, #IIAMay. On top of that, there’s a logo which proclaims to all: Proud to be an Internal Auditor. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Look, I get it. Internal audit isn’t as well known as practitioners would like. They’re building a business here, the IIA, and trying to grow demand for the services of their members, and their influence in management circles. But that’s the type of thing that’s best accomplished within organizations, by bringing your A game consistently and effectively as an auditor and a function.

Happy End of Internal Audit Awareness Month everyone!

Integrate social media efforts across marketing and customer service

Most organizations likely place social media responsibilities primarily (or solely) with marketing, but a recent interview with Cisco’s Marketing Director on WebWorkerDaily, now part of GigaOM provides some insightful tips and makes the case for spreading it throughout the company, especially to customer service:

The heads of both your marketing and customer service departments should meet regularly. Marketing plans should be shared with — and can even be enhanced by — customer service. Each side should know how to use social media to not only fulfill their own goals but to help one another to get closer to reaching overall company goals.

Ensuring the alignment with the overall strategic plan is the key point, and in many cases KPIs for both groups will be similar. Hopefully customer service is already involved in other marketing efforts, but it’s especially important in the interactive space of social media. Customer service is better positioned to turn feedback into improvements to operations where identified.

Measure results together. As expectations are high for tangible returns on social media marketing investments, bring customer service in to help measure, analyze and tell the story of how social media is effective for the company.

Mine social media for more than sentiment. Instead of just looking for the positive, negative and neutral of what customers are saying about a company’s product or service, look for clues to how the public perceives the company as a whole.

Demonstrating a return on social media investments is a challenge for many companies, but collaboration across functions will help. As well, the social media team should build relationships with others subject matter experts within the company, so that customer feedback can be informed or addressed by the people best able to do so accurately. Tech companies, such as Google with their official blog, tend to do really well with this.

Building social media competence across the organization should also have the side effect of nurturing responsible personal use, which is still a risk, although one which I believe often unnecessarily overshadows the potential for beneficial use of social media to a company.

How are social media responsibilities organized in your company?

CA ad campaign: Decisions Matter

Got an email last week about an update to the Decisions Matter ad campaign the CICA has been running for the designation:

The Decisions Matter ad campaign is aimed at shifting the traditional perception of the CA designation and promoting CAs as business leaders and key decision-makers in every organization. The campaign is very different from what we’ve done in the past. It is more assertive in establishing CAs as the leading business professionals and, in its originality, has been specifically designed to break through the media clutter.

I like the direction in which this strategy is taking us. For one, it is vocation agnostic, in that it doesn’t focus on CAs in public practice more than those in industry. And I like the attention that “decisions” are receiving, but I think that execution needs to be emphasized as well. Making the right decision is great, but acting on it is critical.

As a CA you have an important role to play in supporting this campaign. You can promote the CAs’ reputation as business leaders with a few simple steps:

  • Include your CA designation on business cards and other communications;
  • Ensure your professional network knows you are a CA. This includes the organizations you volunteer with;
  • When making presentations, discuss how your CA training has powered your achievements;
  • In interviews, introduce yourself as a CA; and
  • Talk about the Decisions Matter campaign with your family, friends and business contacts.

No mention of starting a blog and establishing your online brand in concert with the CA designation, but you can’t win ’em all I guess. If there’s one area that the CICA has thus far completely ignored it’s the social media space. Excuse me though, it’s time to ring the family and discuss this campaign with them, that’ll really promote our reputation!

My recommendation is to follow up the Decisions Matter campaign with something more focused on executing great ideas/decisions. Advising is valuable, deciding is important, but executing is key. What do you think of the campaign’s message and how it’s positioning CAs?

The power of unique names in the age of Google

The Wall Street Journal has published an article recently titled “You’re a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well” that’s been making the rounds on various popular blogs. Reminds me of what I found when I Googled myself a short while ago. I took a screen shot of it and put it on my Flickr.

In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions.

So, instead of doing it the hard way by starting a blog and building up enough inbound links to climb to the top on merit, people are resorting to assigning their kids very unique names in what is clearly black hat search engine optimization!

As for making sure people know Neil McIntyre means me, I’ve done the proactive thing and set up my identity at ClaimID and Wink. My ClaimID page also lists links to other Neil McIntyres, under the heading “Not Me”. Everyone should be setting up their own ClaimID and claiming things online that they’ve done or are about them.

ClaimID’s blog even has an entry related to the above article.

The approach that seems to be popular in identity search is a hybrid of search + claiming. Knowing that models will never fully disambiguate or find any one individual, the search engines allow individuals to claim related results, creating a dossier of sorts. Of course, this is the approach we’ve always taken in ClaimID – you know yourself, and we’re not going to try to design an algorithm that knows you better than you do.

Making a name for yourself has never been easier. At the same time, it is only going to get more difficult maintaining your name as the Web continues to grow.

Indeed, it’s such a challenge that there are blogs dedicated to the idea and art of personal branding, such as QuickSprout, which written by a fellow Neil. He blogs about branding through social networks like Facebook, provides some quick and dirty ways to brand yourself, and explains a key reason for taking control of your personal brand.

What are you doing to set yourself apart from the crowd? Will you do anything to ensure your kids are Google-able?